There is a lot of development that happens in the USA, nearly a trillion dollars were spent in 2018 on new private construction and, unfortunately, we can assume most of that development adds more parking supply to our communities.
I was on a panel at the APA National Conference last week debating parking maximums with a few great folks who were representing the “developer perspective.” The argument against restricting new parking development is that if an area doesn’t have good transit or density, then disallowing new parking supply will kill the project.
Maybe that’s good.
Every new structured parking space is a 30 year commitment to undermine climate action goals.
We’ve got a dozen years to turn the tide on climate change. This isn’t a drill. Every new structured parking space is a 30 year commitment to undermine climate action goals. The cost of parking is much higher than the $30-50,000 a stall it might cost to construct and maintain.
The bank, or the NIMBYs, or the local transportation bureaucracy will say: “This part of town doesn’t have sufficient transit to support a building with no parking.” But if we build enough parking to support more people in a transit-desert, we are guaranteeing the transit will never be sufficient.
If the project is a new development in on a multi-acre suburban greenfield, it’s an even bigger problem. “This isn’t the city,” they will say, “this project won’t get built unless we build hundreds of parking spaces.” It’s probably better for everyone if it isn’t built, except for the investors who were hoping to squeeze a few more percentage points of return out of car culture.
I support market rate development and I think markets are a good way to gauge parking demand, but I don’t think the cost of climate change is priced into these decisions. If a site is too risky to develop because there’s no way to get there without driving, then don’t develop it. Most cities have plenty of (often wealthy) neighborhoods with good transit access to upzone, let’s do that instead.
I’m told that I’ll never win over enough people by being so radical and I’m not so sure, I think there’s not enough people telling the truth. In either event, I think I’d rather lose after trying to win than lose by default through bad compromise.
Michael Andersen says
Seems like the worst scenario would be to set parking maximums below the natural market rate, but only in a few relatively transit-rich (but still car-dependent) cities. This would block new housing there, pushing it to the less transit-rich burbs instead.
Outcome: more total VMT. More voters living in transit-poor places. That way after we miss our 2020 “everything stays sorta ok” deadline we’ll cruise right on past “everything sucks” and into “everybody dies” without mch trouble.
Tony Jordan says
You’re thinking too small, Michael. These maximums should be regional or even statewide. Perhaps in the form of a very, very high impact fee for any parking above an amount needed for loading, handicapped, and other special uses.
Michael Andersen says
I’m not thinking too small! I’m saying anybody who were to support jurisdiction-level parking maximums would be.