Opinion: Why Anchorage Should Eliminate Parking Minimums

With an average of eight parking spots per one car, U.S. cities have a glut of parking. How can valuable urban space be used more effectively?

2 minute read

September 22, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Anchorage Alaska

akphotoc / Shutterstock

In an opinion piece for the Anchorage Daily News, Kevin Cross, Amanda Moser, Eric Visser, Daniel Volland and Emily Weiser argue that, like many other U.S. cities, Anchorage has a parking problem. That is, there is too much of it.

According to the authors, “Excessive parking obstructs housing development, impedes adaptive reuse of buildings and hinders the creation of vibrant spaces that allow our community to flourish and feel connected.” They attribute this in part to the parking minimums included in the city’s municipal code, which call for unnecessarily high numbers of parking spots for many uses.

Parking overbuilt to a level far exceeding normal usage creates vast swaths of empty space. Less land is available for development that adds value to our city. It is, therefore, worth exploring whether we should require minimums at all.

The article argues that eliminating parking minimums won’t affect existing parking, will still allow developers to include as much parking as is appropriate for their projects, and will have only small, incremental effects on on-street parking. Pointing to an example from Portland, Oregon, the authors write that “Parking minimums raise the cost of housing when Anchorage has a critical need for affordable and middle market-rate housing. They make multi-family housing developments more expensive and often impossible to build.”

To cement their case against minimum parking requirements, the authors note that the requirements put a disproportionate burden on small entrepreneurs who want to rehabilitate old buildings, decrease walkability, and slow housing construction. “In the absence of parking minimums, we’ll still have parking— but we’ll be free to decide how much it’s worth to us and weigh its value against the other things we could do with the same finite, precious land.”

Monday, September 19, 2022 in Anchorage Daily News

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