Three Analogies about Parking

Paul Barter at Reinventing Parking talks today about assumptions re parking that may help define how we think about the subject.  He is forming his thoughts and plans to write more in the near future on the topic, but he spells his thesis this way:

1.  “Parking is an ancillary service for each building, like its restrooms”

2.  “Parking is infrastructure for its area, like local public transport facilities”

3.  “Parking is real estate”

I’ll have to think about these for a moment, but on balance they look like our parking organizations in the US. One and Three fit the NPA model, and two fits the IPI.

The first and third are free market approaches, with individual developers and entrepreneurs deciding on the amount and type of parking needed. This assumes that the local planning commission keeps its fingers out of the subject. Usually when government is involved ion setting parking requirements for buildings and developments the market is skewed and  bad things happen.

The second approach is a central planning approach, with the government deciding on the amount and type of parking needed. According to Paul, this type of approach usually results in decisions that are made to affect the policy goals of the urban area.

Its interesting that in virtually all other countries around the world, the parking associations are combined, with both on and off street, government and commercial parking interests are represented in the same organizati0ns.

I’m not sure, however, if that’s possible.

They may seem to be represented by the same organization, but are they really. In Australia, for instance, there is the Parking Association of Australia, which is a ‘blending’ of the two interests, but leans toward the private sector, and the Australian National Parking Steering Group which focuses on the needs of parking enforcement officers. Interesting that the ANPSG did not grow out of the PAA, but out of a need that was not being filled.

The IPI in the US grew out of similar need when municipalities and universities felt its needs were not being met by the NPA.

In Brazil the major national parking association, ABRAPARK, is led by the private sector. Parking is beginning to mature in the south American Country and it will be interesting to see whether or not the founding group can meet the needs of the public sector.

In the UK, the British Parking Association has a strong private bent, however it seems to lean toward the public sector, but then, the majority of parking in the UK is public owned.

I commend you to follow Paul’s ‘evolution’ of his analogies on Parking. As he says, analogies aren’t perfect but it would be better if we could frame our discussions in a more explicit manner.


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2 Responses to Three Analogies about Parking

  1. Paul Barter says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, John.

    A clarification. I am not so sure that the first analogy (1. “Parking is an ancillary service for each building, like its restrooms”) usually leads to ‘free market’ approaches. Its main result is local-government regulation: minimum parking requirements. So developers generally have little choice but to provide on-site parking mandated by this local government regulation. Sure, the parking is built by the private sector. But the supply had a floor set by governments.

    Ironically, the 2nd case (“2. “Parking is infrastructure for its area, like local public transport facilities”) which is certainly more obviously about government planning, often prompts those governments to deregulate the parking minimums. For example, Berlin in Germany tends to see parking with that perspective. They have quite a bit of government-built public parking. But the city also abolished its parking minimums around 15 years ago (and didn’t impose maximums either)! Developers in Berlin can build whatever amount of parking that they deem appropriate based on their own market knowledge.

  2. JVH says:

    If cities remove minimum parking requirements, then the developer will make a decision as to the amount of parking his project needs and how he is to deal with it. In the second case, I thought you were talking about parking that was supplied by the local government, like on street and lots owned by the municipality…JVH

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