(NOTE TO READERS: An expanded, footnote-filled version of this article is online at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1632935 ) Externalities are costs (or benefits) imposed on third parties by another individual’s voluntary action. Government regulations exist at least partially to protect us from externalities created by others.
(NOTE TO READERS: An expanded, footnote-filled version of this article is online at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1632935 )
(or benefits) imposed on third parties by another individual's voluntary
action. Government regulations exist at least partially to protect us from externalities created by others.
But government regulation may create its own externalities, leading to costs that may even outweigh the benefits (or "positive externalities") created by regulation.
externality-creating regulation is government-imposed minimum parking
requirements. For example, Jacksonville, Florida
requires apartment complexes to provide 1.75 parking spaces per
apartment - despite the fact that 16% of Jacksonville's
renter households don't even own one
car. The purpose of such regulation is
to prevent externalities- for example, to prevent drivers from creating congestion and pollution while they cruise the streets searching for parking spaces.
in fact, this
sort of regulation creates a variety of negative externalities.
First, minimum parking requirements, by
artificially increasing the supply of parking, reduce the cost of
thus force landowners not only to build parking lots, but to give
motorists for free (or, in downtown areas, at lower rates than would be the case in the absence of regulation). But landowners still
have to pay to build parking lots and
garages; so landowners will pass the costs of parking lot construction on to their tenants and
the form of higher rents and prices. So as a practical matter, society as a whole is forced to subsidize driving; parking regulation makes driving cheaper by making parking free, and makes nondrivers pay more for goods and services to support this subsidy.
Second, minimum parking requirements reduce the total
amount of housing and commerce, because land that is used for parking
used for housing or commerce. And by reducing the housing supply, minimum parking requirements reducce density- and residents of lower-density areas tend to be
dependent on automobiles for most daily tasks, because they are less
live within walking distance of public transit and other amenities. So in this respect as well, minimum parking
requirements increase driving and its negative side effects.
parking requirements indirectly discourage walking, by encouraging
to surround their buildings with parking.
Where shops and offices are surrounded by a sea of parking, they
unpleasant places for pedestrians, because pedestrians must waste time
through parking lots and risk their lives dodging automobiles. When walking is unpleasant, people drive more
and walk less.
Thus, minimum parking requirements make driving more attractive and walking less so. It logically follows that municipal parking
regulation may actually increase, rather than decreasing, congestion and pollution. And by increasing the number of parking lots,
minimum parking requirements may increase pollution from stormwater
runoff. Rainstorms cause stormwater to
fall on parking lots, collect metal, oil and other pollutants lying on
ground, and then to run off into nearby waters, thus making those waters
dirtier and more dangerous.
could be argued that the costs of minimum parking requirements are
because in the absence of such requirements most landowners would build
as much parking as they do now in order to get financing.
But this argument cuts both ways: if
landowners would build parking lots in the absence of regulation, then
abolition of regulation is unlikely to create negative externalities significant enough to justify regulation.
Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023
The world is changing, and planning with it.
Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side
The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.
More Affordable Housing for People, Less for Cars
Most jurisdictions have off-street parking requirements that increase motorists’ convenience but reduce housing affordability. It’s time to reform these policies for the sake of efficiency and fairness.
Seattle Council Rejects Transportation Impact Fee
Councilmembers who opposed the proposal say the fee would have slowed housing development and raised housing costs.
FHWA Issues Emissions Tracking Rule
The agency will require states to monitor transportation emissions and create plans to address air pollution.
FTA Proposes Measures to Prevent Transit Operator Fatigue
Public transit is the only type of transportation not already subject to ‘hours of service’ and fatigue risk management regulations.
University of New Mexico - School of Architecture & Planning
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Chaddick Institute at DePaul University
Arizona State University, Ten Across
Park City Municipal Corporation
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Santa Fe, New Mexico
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.