The Parking Disaster

Minimum parking requirements, argues Michael Manville, raise the cost of construction and eat up valuable urban real estate.

1 minute read

May 23, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


San Francisco Parking

Moreno Novello / Shutterstock

In a piece for The Atlantic, Michael Manville, associate Urban Planning professor at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, argues that minimum parking requirements "have been a disaster" for cities. Manville quotes Lewis Mumford, who in the 1960s decried the urban focus on parking as "the right to destroy the city." According to Manville, parking requirements have caused "needless damage," over decades, "with few people even noticing."

Cars, Manville writes, consume space—even when the car is not in motion or even present. "Cities designed for cars must set aside space: space to wait for cars, and space to hold them while they wait for their drivers to come back." Parking minimums take the cost of parking "and push it onto developers, hiding it in the cost of building." In Los Angeles, one parking spot can add as much as $50,000 to the cost of a building.

"Because parking requirements make driving less expensive and development more so, cities get more driving, less housing, and less of everything that makes urbanity worthwhile." Fulfilling local leaders' visions of "walkable downtowns and affordable units" requires eliminating the long-standing parking requirements that undermine them. "America’s disastrous experiment with parking requirements," writes Manville, "should end."

Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in The Atlantic

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