Urbanists Calling For Reduced Parking in D.C.

Minimum parking requirements are coming under increasing fire in Washington D.C. This column argues that reducing parking will make the city a better and smarter place.
October 4, 2008, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Now D.C. planners and a growing number of urbanists are proposing to scrap those minimum parking requirements on the theory that big urban parking garages are a destructive and unnecessary public subsidy for car owners. The argument is that building garages in densely populated urban neighborhoods undermines public transit, wastes space that could be used for affordable housing and more attractive retail, and pushes up the cost of housing, guaranteeing lower-quality development."

"Tregoning argues that the city has diminished its own ability to foster a car-free environment by forcing developers to build enormous numbers of parking spaces that then sit unused. Cases in point: The new DC USA shopping mall in Columbia Heights (Target, Marshalls, etc.) has a huge indoor lot that remains mainly empty, as most customers arrive by Metro or on foot. In Adams Morgan, the new Harris Teeter supermarket similarly has far more parking than it needs."

"Don't build the parking, and residents will be more likely to buy into a transit- and walking-based urban life. That pretty well sums up my experience living in neighborhoods that had very difficult parking vs. those where parking is plentiful. If you know you're going to have to spend an hour roaming around searching for a space, you are dramatically less likely to take the car out on the next shopping or leisure venture."

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Published on Friday, October 3, 2008 in The Washington Post
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