August 24, 2010

Parking, Parking Everywhere

A team of economists from the University of Munich recently released a study examining the effects of mandatory parking minimums on development in urban and suburban Los Angeles. The team found that parking minimums "significantly increase" the amount of land devoted to parking, to the detriment of water quality, pedestrian safety and non-automotive modes of transportation.

One byproduct of minimum parking reqs is the amusing personification of "underperforming asphalt." That parking minimums lead to an oversupply seems like a no-duh situation, but quantitative results are, as they should be, the gold standard.  


Circling for parking accounts for approximately 30% of driving in San Francisco.

Very interested to see how this plays out. Definitely a story I will be following.


About two years ago, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley sold off the rights to 75 years of his city’s public parking meters for $1.15 billion to a partnership of private companies led by Morgan Stanley. ... Bloomberg News, however, revealed last week that the private partnership that bought up the spaces expects to generate at least $11.6 billion in revenues over the course of the contract — producing a potential profit of $9.58 billion.

Daley wanted to implement market based pricing--like SFpark, above--but expected it to be politically impossible. In 2008, yes. In 2010, less so. 2015? Who knows, but hindsight is always 20/20.

But damn, what if cities accurately priced the real estate and construction costs of parking? Billions and billions more for the business districts and neighborhoods abutting the parking spaces, billions more for road maintenance, for transit, for ADA compliance, for bike lanes and ped paths. Reduced incentives to drive. Cleaner air. And how terrible to think that such needed revenue for reinvestment in public infrastructure might go (will go, in Chicago's case) to things like Morgan Stanley's bottom line. Yuck. But here's hoping the program, and SF's program, showcase how effective market pricing can be in reducing circling time and vehicle miles traveled while generating revenue.


If certain employers offer free parking (a subsidy to drivers), they are required to pay an equivalent amount to employees who do not drive. A parking cash out.

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