The argument against minimum parking requirements is not new. Donald Shoup was talking about it in 1999.
Urban planners typically set the minimum parking requirements for every land use to satisfy the peakdemand for free parking. As a result, parking is free for 99% of automobile trips in the United States. Minimum parking requirements increase the supply and reduce the price — but not the cost — of parking. They bundle the cost of parking spaces into the cost of development, and thereby increase the prices of all the goods and services sold at the sites that offer free parking. Cars have many external costs, but the external cost of parking in cities may be greater than all the other external costs combined. To prevent spillover, cities could price on-street parking rather than require off-street parking. Compared with minimum parking requirements, market prices can allocate parking spaces fairly and efficiently.
Strong Towns takes a strong stance on the matter.
It’s time to put an end to parking minimum laws and allow our cities to become productive places again.
What’s wrong with parking minimums?
Strong Towns allow new businesses to flourish and treat their land as a valuable resource. Minimum parking requirements hinder the potential of Strong Towns by creating barriers for new local business start ups, and filling our cities with unproductive, empty parking spaces that don’t add value to our places.
Join us each November for our annual #BlackFridayParking event, which takes a bold stand against parking minimums with an interactive, nationwide campaign.
Want to see an end to parking minimums across America? Join the movement that’s working to accomplish that.
There’s a resource page with links to numerous articles about the usefulness of removing parking minimums. Here’s one:
What makes surface parking so destructive is that it consumes a finite resource (land) with virtually no direct financial benefit. Our pre-occupation at Urban Three is local finance. From that perspective, parking — in particular the vast kind that adorns strip malls and box stores — is dead weight. Local governments, be they in cities, towns, or counties, are all constrained by the land they can develop. What they do with that resource is thus, paramount to how well they can pay their bills. Tax revenue is but one of many resources squandered by each acre of land devoted to deactivated cars.
Parking minimums are the strange, out-dated, and totally unscientific law that’s probably languishing in your city’s zoning code. They sound dull (and they are) but they’re incredibly important because they have dramatically shaped our cities in a detrimental manner.
Today, I’m explaining exactly why these laws are harmful and what you can do about them.
1. They rob us of financial productivity and prosperity.
2. They hinder small business owners, homeowners, developers and renters.
3. They fill our cities with empty, useless space.
Now I’m just piling on:
One Line of Your Zoning Code Can Make a World of Difference, by Aaron Qualls
Aaron Qualls is the Director of Planning & Community Development for the city of Sandpoint, Idaho. He shared this essay with us about the benefits Sandpoint has seen in the ten years since it removed all minimum parking requirements in its downtown, and we’re pleased to share it with you.
In 2009, as buildings were being bulldozed for surface parking to meet minimum standards in Historic Downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, city leadership took bold action. Downtown area off-street parking requirements were completely eliminated. The decision was preceded by heated debate and was not unanimous. Now, ten years later, what was the result?
Since that contentious decision by the Sandpoint City Council, millions have been invested downtown—projects that would not have been feasible, but for the elimination of parking requirements. Several jobs, building renovations, and expansions by local businesses were essentially made possible by adding a single line of code.
Arguably, no city ordinance is more underestimated for its long term impacts than off-street parking requirements. Many cities are now starting to recognize the negative effects parking minimums can have on housing affordability, historic preservation, the environment, small businesses, walkability and municipal budgets …
The city of New Albany’s staffers have been working for perhaps two years with an outfit called 11th Street to rewrite our code of ordinances. I took a glance at a draft copy from last year and found this, which comes at the end of 5-10 pages of explanation about newly revised … minimum parking requirements.
I’ve written to several appointed and elected officials in New Albany seeking clarification as to why in an era of disappearing minimum parking requirements, we seem to be doubling down — BUT I’m the first to admit the planning/zoning muck-speak is such that I may be completely misinterpreting this section.
If any of them reply, I’ll let you know.