Parking Minimums in DC and Elsewhere — What is the motive?
In his testimony before the Washington DC Zoning board, Matt Malinowski ended with the following:
Rather than perpetuating the current set of arbitrary requirements based on unknowable ratios of drivers to occupants, please focus on what we do know: land in DC is expensive and driving is unsustainable and causes congestion. Eliminating or minimizing parking requirements allows for the market to provide parking to those who truly need it, while making it clear that free parking is not a right, and that DC values its residents and natural environment over its cars.
He had just finished discussing how a local business could reduce its parking facilities and replace them with bike racks to wit:
Staff are expected to ride bikes, so there are 20 bike parking spots instead, and the Metro is a 10-minute walk away.
I guess I’m just grumpy. Sure parking minimums are absurd and without them many abandoned buildings could be opened for other uses but maybe I don’t want to ride a bike or the metro. Maybe I’m willing to pay for parking. Shouldn’t that be a decision left up to the landowner, the developer, and dare I say it, the customer.
I guess that consultants and planners have a right to their opinions, just as do I, however it seems to me that the market would solve all these problems if it was just allowed to work. Its also important to remember that if you take away a person’s ability to drive, then there needs to be an alternative — like say transit, or maybe planners want to have us living like Europeans, in 500 square foot apartments stacked a quarter of a million to the square mile, living, eating, working, loving — all within walking distance.