King County Metro has recently developed a tool called Right Size Parking. This tool provides maps of Seattle and its surrounding areas with the parking demand for each parcel. It was developed by extensively studying peak residential parking demand in areas around the region. This mapping service will be especially beneficial to planners and developers. Planners will able to use it as a guide for updating parking regulations in the zoning code. Developers will be able to better anticipate the parking needs of future developments.
Allocating the wrong amount of parking brings a number of costs to society. The over-provision of parking leads to higher VMTs, more cars and congestion, and discourages other modes of transit. Under-providing parking can harm businesses, and disadvantage the elderly and disabled who need to park close to their residences.
Hopefully other cities will follow suit and provide clear and easy to understand analysis of parking demand. The recent debate in Portland over developments without on-site parking illustrates just how contentious parking issues can be. A Portland version of Right Size Parking would have made it easier for both city officials and the public to understand the implications of developments with little or no on-site parking.
As the screen shot (below) from Right Size Parking shows, there are many areas in Seattle that demand less than half a stall per unit. At the same time, outside the central city, most areas still need at least one stall per unit. The main takeaway from this map is that parking requirements are very site specific, and blanket parking regulations are a detriment to an efficient parking market.
Edited by Darwin Moosavi.