So Much Parking It Hurts
Today on the Streetsblog Network, Austin Contrarian counts the ways that too much parking can damage a downtown:
Photo by Amber Rhea via Flickr.
- Parking raises the cost of new development, which means less of it.
This may be no big deal for a city with a built-out downtown, but it is
a big deal for Austin, which devotes so many downtown blocks to surface
parking or stand-alone garages.
- Parking not only raises the cost of new development, but it limits size and density.
An on-site garage can only be so big to be practical. A developer who
wants to provide enough on-site parking to cover peak demand must
first figure out how much parking he can build; only then will he know
how much he can build of whatever it is he wants to build.
garages and surface lots blight the streetscape, triggering a negative
feedback loop: the surface lots and garages make streets less
attractive to pedestrians, which drives the pedestrians away, which
reduces demand for pedestrian-oriented retail, which makes the
streetscape even less attractive for pedestrians, etc.
parking — i.e., parking provided below cost — distorts the market,
encouraging an inefficient mix of driving and transit use.
ever more parking downtown increases congestion. The amount of land
devoted to streets is fixed. The amount of parking is not. Increasing
the number of parking spots but not the amount of street space means
more cars per square meter of street, which in turn means more
congestion. (This very interesting paper (pdf) by Michael Manville and Donald Shoup explores this argument in depth.)
- Parking garages and surface lots are butt-ugly.
Elsewhere around the network: St. Louis Urban Workshop notes an apparent disconnect in the thinking of Sen. Christopher Dodd, chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The Overhead Wire asks why the US can’t match India’s commitment to funding new metro systems. And Human Transit wonders whether we should ride mediocre transit systems just because they need the "vote" we cast when we hop aboard.