You Still Have to Pay for the Transit Part

San Diego is joining a long list of cities changing the way they are looking at parking requirements. Check out the article on parknews.biz.

I think cities need to be careful. First of all, removing parking requirements (two spaces per apartment, etc) is a fantastic idea. It drives up the cost of housing and limits the number of units built due to the increased cost of building parking. However requiring developers to limit parking is a step too far.

This is a decision that should be left to the developer, not city bureaucrats. If the city begins to require developers to limit spaces, or unbundle parking and the cost of the apartment, or require car sharing or bike sharing as a part of the development, it seems to me that some of the same factors that limit construction may come into play.

Banks look to a development as it relates to its long term success. If they feel that limiting parking or how it is paid will change the possibility of the projects success, they may be more picky as to the loans they fund, or perhaps will fund at a higher interest rate because of the risk involved.

The goal of the city is to reduce the number of vehicles in its sphere and become less auto centric. It wants higher density of people living per square mile and wants them to use public transportation, bikes, Uber, or walk. Fair enough. But it has to be prepared to supply that transportation in a fashion that is convenient and easy to use.

For high density compact central cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, or downtown Chicago, DC, or yes even San Diego the concept may be workable. However placing such requirements on developments in remote areas like Kearney Mesa in San Diego, the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, or even outlying areas of New York or Boston without first having transportation in place seems a bit over the top.

A friend asked me how cities were going to pay for transit systems at cost upwards of a billion dollars a mile. Where is the money coming from? Its nice to say and plan for transit oriented development, but you still have to have the transit part.


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