Parking. Everyone seems to have an opinion on parking. Some people think we need more, some think we need less. Some are adamant about parking requirements for new developments and some say parking requirements prevent development from happening in the first place. Donald Shoup believes the latter. His article “Free Parking or Free Markets” makes a strong case that the cost of parking is usually hidden and placed on non-drivers. His study on parking requirements and the effects of parking policy makes a strong case for reducing requirements in order to spur infill development and promote the reuse of older buildings.
Continuing Mr. Shoup’s hard work on the investigation of cities and their parking requirements, Seth Goodman, an architect who lives in Bogota, Columbia created three infographs to demonstrate the unnecessary amount of parking required in cities around the nation. He investigates office building, dining space and residential apartment parking requirements. Mr. Goodman’s graphs do a spectacular job at demonstrating which cities have high requirements for certain developments and not others. One of the more interesting points in Mr. Goodman’s infographs concerns the sheer amount of space parking consumes. On average, a 2-bedroom apartment requires 1.5 parking spaces. Those 1.5 spaces account for more than half the square footage of the apartment itself.
Portland City Council recently passed a law that would force a minimum parking requirement for large apartment buildings in areas that used to have no minimum at all. The law would require parking spaces on a sliding scale per total units. The highest requirement would be for apartments with more than 50 units, requiring 1 space per 3 units. The most controversial part about the new Portland law is that these requirements have been placed for areas around transit hubs, both with frequent service and proximity to light rail. As Mr. Shoup mentions in his article, this type of parking force feeds developers to have to make space and spend money for parking even if it isn’t wanted by citizens. Creating dense and vibrant pedestrian-centric communities around transit will continue to be difficult if cities do not stop requiring auto-centric development. Hopefully Portland realizes all this before its too late.
Special Thanks to Sravya for editing my post.