Parking to Affect Social Change

Every so often this topic raises its head and I feel a need to slap it down. The concept is that if we limit the number of parking spaces, either on street or off street, in the central city or in apartment/condo projects, we will by definition limit the number of cars and entice (read that force) people on to public transportation or sidewalks. This will increase the density in the central cities and meet the goals of environmentalists and urban planners.

My position is that these are choices that should be left to individuals and those who are building the projects where the parking spaces would be located. If as we heard at the last NPA show young office workers want to live where they work and be able to walk to entertainment, shopping, and employment from their homes, so be it. It doesn’t sound like we need to legislate this phenomena.  We can simply let it happen.

Employers will move their offices to central cities, away from suburban office parks, and meet the needs of their employees. Developers will either build high rises to accommodate these businesses, or develop office parks with housing, shopping, entertainment and office space co-located so they can attract employees who want that type of environment.

Limiting the number of parking spaces by fiat is, it seems to me, overreaching the planner’s mandate. Its a similar issue to requiring a certain number of spaces for a particular type of business. Shouldn’t the business owner be making that decision, not a faceless bureaucracy?

Parking is a resource, but its also a business. And businesses owners, including cities, universities, and airports, need to be able to make their own decisions.

An apartment owner can break out the cost of parking spaces and then charge for parking and reduce the rent for people who elect not to own cars. After all, parking is another expense to car ownership, like gas, oil, and insurance.

Perhaps charging for parking where it is now ‘free’ would have a greater affect on car ownership than mandating that if you own a car you will have no place to park it. Then the individual can make the decision, not have it thrust upon them.


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One Response to Parking to Affect Social Change

  1. Donald Shoup says:

    Despite their ambivalence on whether to require or restrict parking, city planners always seem to regulate it. This behavior recalls a Soviet maxim: “What is not required must be prohibited.”

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