Bring a discussion out into the Sunlight

My post about “Parking, Is it really as bad as they say” Brought a number of comments that I thought were important enough to be shown the light of day.

Don Shoup:

Hi John,

I’m happy to hear that you like Paved Paradise.

I think you overlooked his chapter on minimum parking requirements, however, when you write, “Merchants and venues want to attract customers and make it convenient for them. So they build enough parking for their customers.”

If this statement is true, why do cities require developers to provide ample off-street parking for all buildings? Developers provide all the parking spaces that cities require, even if this is far more parking than they want to build.

Minimum parking requirements probably explain your comment, “PT’s offices are located in a class A building near LAX. There is abundant parking under the building. I have never, in the seven years we’ve been there, seen the parking full – even when it was opened to airport parking.”

Ample underground parking isn’t cheap, but cities requires it (or did in California until AB 2097 prohibited cities from requiring off-street parking within a half mile of major transit stops). Henry Grabar argues that market prices rather than minimum parking requirements should govern the parking supply.

Here are the links to several book reviews that you and many PT readers might enjoy reading:



JVH says:

June 10, 2023 at 12:21 pm

Hi Don: I can’t say I like or dislike the book, as I have never read it. My comments are based on an interview with Garber. I’m not surprised that there are all those reviews. People just line up to disparage parking. Best — JVH


Clyde Wilson says:

June 10, 2023 at 1:41 am

The reality is this group of people hate the POV and dream up reasons that they are unnecessary. They only see one side of the issue. You and I and almost everyone else have to live in a world where we have to evaluate both sides of any issue and make the decision where we fall. They want us to live in the middle of a vast city with millions of people living on top of each other where our home is on the 15th floor and 4 thousand people live in our building with their kids. To live that way they walk to work no matter the weather, they have to walk kids to school because it is not safe for them to walk alone. They have to walk to the grocery every day because we cannot carry enough groceries to last a week or even a few days. In the American way of life we prefer to not live in a building with thousands of other people and a city on top of close to a million people so we drive to work, school, grocery, dinner, and mall, and it is necessary to have 3 or 4 parking spaces for my one car to park. They hate cars so they think having parking spaces are bad. We don’t want to live on top of each other so we think parking is a necessity.


Paul Barter says:

June 11, 2023 at 8:01 pm

Hi John,

I really think you would find Henry Grabar’s book a great read. It is full of personal stories of people in parking. It is right up your alley. Like you, Henry is fascinated by the ins and outs of the parking world and he reveals them in an entertaining way.

But I get the feeling that you think Grabar’s book and people like Don Shoup, me and the Parking Reform Network are a threat to the parking industry?

In fact, both this book and parking reform are almost certainly a GOOD THING for (most of) the parking industry!

Parking reform expand demand for parking management. The core of the parking reform agenda is to stop promoting oversupply (it is not necessary anyway) and to manage the existing parking much better (or start managing it at all). If the parking reform movement sees much more success, it would cause a big increase in the need for parking management, both on-street and off-street. Transit-oriented areas will need less parking, so some downtown garages (for example) will close. That may sound bad but at the same time managed parking will expand into new areas. Areas where most parking is currently unmanaged. A large proportion of the parking industry segments advertising in Parking Today would stand to benefit from such trends, no?

In fact, I think enlightened parking industry leaders should think about following the lead of Parkade and Studio Davis in sponsoring parking reform organizations like PRN (see https://parkingreform.org/sponsors/).

You seem to think parking reform is anti-car? Sure, you can easily find some radical rhetoric from some parking reformers, even leading ones. We have a range of views. And many are moderate. Don Shoup never indulges in rhetoric that could be portrayed as “anti-car”. My approach is anti car-dependence and pro expanding choice and mobility options. I don’t think of it as anti-car (but maybe you would?). Anyway, parking reform is a big tent and the core agenda that everyone agrees on is not aggressively anti-car. It is only anti-car if you expect parking to be free-of-charge and ultra-plentiful.

The parking management (and allied) industries and the parking reform movement are actually natural allies.



JVH says:

June 12, 2023 at 8:52 am

Hello Paul — I think the list of reviews in Don’s reply proves my point. That is, readers want to read about negatives concerning parking, whether it is fun, well written, or whatever. As for you or Tony at PRN being a threat to the industry, I truly believe you are more a threat to the automobile industry. My guess is that if, for whatever reason, the entire world outlawed parking requirements, you would look to other goals to reduce private vehicle use.
Frankly, Paul, what needs to happen to make that a part of our lives, is to change people’s attitude about freedom. That is, gain acceptance of a group of elites that control where one lives, how one lives, and move everyone into 900 square foot apartments in a central city. No car needed then, as you can walk to everything you need.
I’m just not ‘with it’ when it means that I have to go to the grocery store every day since i have to carry the groceries home. Sure, some people love to live cheek by jowl in the city, and more power to them. But others have elected to live in the ‘burbs’ and have a little plot of land they can call their own. More power to them, too.
All the best


Paul Barter says:

June 12, 2023 at 6:33 pm

Wow. I think you have been forming your views about the transportation agendas of people like me from people who misrepresent them. Never mind. Let’s agree to disagree?

But we SHOULD have common ground on parking reform itself, even if we disagree on that wider transportation agenda.

It’s not just that parking reform is not a threat to the parking industry (as you mention in your reply).

It’s that it is actually a huge OPPORTUNITY. The parking industry would likely grow in volume and value as PRN-style parking reform gathers momentum.

The key trend would be towards less of a glut of parking and towards more need to manage the remaining parking so that car users still get a good experience (even if we have to pay more often). That seems like a huge opportunity for the Parking Today readership and advertising community.

In more detail, parking reform success would mean more need for parking information, more need for convenient parking payments, more need for skillful and effective enforcement, more unbundled residential parking needing management, more workplace parking plans, more valet parking, more commercial district parking validation deals, more need for innovation in residential and other permits, skillful management of access to EV charging in some contexts, more need to share existing parking, more decisions by parking owners to open to the public rather than keep their parking private or reserved or customers-only, and so on and so on.

None of that is anti-car, is it? And a bigger and better parking industry doing all those things would make BOTH of us happy, wouldn’t it?

All the best,


JVH says:

June 14, 2023 at 9:37 am

Let me be as clear as I can be. I don’t see you, Tony, or Don as a threat to the parking industry, I see you as a threat to the AUTOMOTIVE industry. I concur that the parking industry could do a much better job in managing existing parking and more tools could be developed to help them do so. As for where I got my ideas about your transportation agenda, I think they came from the three of you. I have met many times with Don Shoup and discussed not only parking but urban planning, I have debated the subject with Tony Jordan and discussed it in detail in my office, and I believe you and I have discussed the topic in person as well as on line. In virtually every case, the conversation morphs into transportation planning and into urban design.
An example might be how you are not only a parking planner, but also a transportation planner — isn’t your other website Reinventing Transport.
My problem is the difficulty of ‘fixing’ ancient cities like Cairo, London, Paris, New York and the like. Those cities built on roads that took goods from farm to market. The solution seems to be the Chinese approach of building a city, then forcing people to move in.
From my point of view, the issue is one of personal choice, convenience, and freedom. The soccer mom who drives an SUV to pick up and deliver her child’s team has the ability to do so on her schedule, and her team’s schedule. not the schedule of the local bus or metro line. While her son or daughter is practicing, she can drive to the local supermarket and pick up a weeks worth or groceries, drop off her dry cleaning, and then get back to pick up the kids and return them safely home.
Convenience is another issue — I attempted to take the bus from my home to work. This is a 10 minute drive. The trip on the bus took an hour and a quarter and two changes. Don tells me with a smile that I should move closer to work. Right.
The nearest metro station is two miles away. A nice hike.
The key, from my seat, is the freedom to choose. If you want to bike, drive, use public transport, or walk, by all means do so. What I resent is being forced into one mode or another.
All the best


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3 Responses to Bring a discussion out into the Sunlight

  1. Kenneth Mills says:

    I enjoy hearing the banter between you and the others. It generates thoughts for reviewing how we operate and to make sure that we are doing everything as efficiently as when can as the information and technology in our industry advances so quickly.

    I think there is a good panel discussion or evening cocktail lounge roundtable at a future PIE summit in the works here. Quite educational for the rest of us to experience.

  2. Clyde says:

    I will make this short. I have read news articles you have written in city newspapers, I have read everything I can on your website. In the Houston paper you wrote about surveys that residents agreed that Houston is not a walkable city without defining what you mean by walkable. I know what you mean. You were clear that removing parking would remove those terrible cars and make Houston a more walkable city and would provide land to build residential space. On your website you talk extensively about removing parking even in one article it is mentioned there was a large park and ride lot that should be removed to build living space. In one article you talked about high-rise commercial office buildings where parking was hiding underneath. No where in your articles and in your online presence do you mention and discuss managing parking. Does parking need to be managed better to assist in the transportation infrastructure, yes, parking and transportation management is the side John and I are on. Your publications are clearly on the side of removing parking in order to remove a place for those terrible POV’s.

  3. I read the book. Grabar interviewed me and even devoted 5 pages to my story (pages 107 to 112), generally favorable, but not without its twists, turns, inaccuracies, and omissions. Officials will never achieve legislating people out of their cars and would never give up the outrageous tax dollars they suck out of our industry. Yes, there are too many parking stalls. Who created them? The officials who dictate how many stalls are required for each particular use of real estate at peak without consideration of sharing them and are afraid to charge market rates for street parking in fear of complaints from their constituents. Fortunately, as recognized in the book there seems to be a movement to eliminate or reduce parking requirements in projects (thank you, Donald Shoup). Also, the tenant brokers advise their clients to ask for an excessive amount of parking spaces to support their leases and the developers are wimps and cave in to the demands. and build garages which sit half empty even in good times. My advice to developers has always to build less and charge more. Seems to work. I do agree with JVH that the parking reformers have a highly simplistic and idealized view of the world and their impact has been to been to clog streets and worsen traffic conditions.

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