Point/Counterpoint: Parking Reform Now or Later (or Never)?
What better time than Park(ing) Day (or should I say "Parrrrking Day") to break out a fascinating piece from the magazine known as Parking Today, "the leading publication serving the diverse needs of today's parking industry." The trade pub recently ran a debate between parking planner Don Norte and performance parking guru Donald Shoup. Norte contends that cities shouldn't adopt reforms like off-street parking maximums until they have reached a certain level of density and transit service:
Once a city or region has achieved transportation efficiency by accommodating the number of trips generated by the appropriate mode of travel, then the option of reducing minimum parking requirements across the board can truly become a positive and cost-effective solution for our policymakers.But holding off on parking reform will only interfere with cities' attempts to become more walkable and transit-oriented, responds Shoup:
Every developer knows that cities' minimum parking requirements are often the real limit to urban density. Minimum parking requirements often force developers to provide more parking than they would voluntarily provide, or smaller buildings than the zoning allows. Off-street parking requirements do not promote a walkable and sustainable city. Instead, off-street parking requirements promote a drivable and unsustainable city. If West Hollywood or any other city waits until there is excellent public transit before it reduces its off-street parking requirements, most people will continue to drive everywhere, even if Santa Claus miraculously builds the transit system. If planners insist that cities must have good public transit before they can reduce their off-street parking requirements for every land use, cities will never get good public transit. The smartest step cities can take is to convert all their minimum parking requirements into maximum parking limits, without changing any of the numbers.More from Shoup, including plenty of observations that apply to parking reform in New York, after the jump.
City planners have no professional expertise or training to set parking requirements. They don't know how much parking spaces cost at any site, and they don't know how the parking requirements affect development or the transportation system. City planners also know little about the effects of parking requirements, but they are expected to know exactly how many parking spaces are required for every land use. In trying to foretell the demand for parking, urban planners resemble the Wizard of Oz, deceived by his own tricks. No one should blame planners for dispensing the elixir of ample free parking, however, because everyone wants to park free. Nevertheless, planners can be faulted for their pretension to special skills in dealing with parking. Planners cannot predict parking demand any better than the Wizard of Oz could give the Scarecrow brains or send Dorothy back to Kansas.