From Peak Car to Peak Parking?

Fewer cars on the road, less driving, why not fewer parking spots? Cities like D.C., L.A., Denver, Philadelphia are responding by reducing or eliminating parking minimums, while Portland, which had already eliminated them, are bringing them back.

2 minute read

July 10, 2013, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Calling it "a profound shift" across the U.S., Kris Hudson writes primarily of the proposed zoning change in the District of Columbia [also described here] that would waive "requirements that new buildings near its 40 rail-transit stops include parking spaces, joining a growing list of cities that are responding to shrinking car ownership by residents of dense neighborhoods."

In 2010, Denver reduced its parking requirements near light-rail stops. Last year, Philadelphia did the same for residential projects downtown. Los Angeles last month waived parking minimums around certain transit stops. New York City in May reduced its maximum allotments of parking for residential projects in downtown Brooklyn.

Portland was way ahead of the pack, perhaps too ahead. It waived "some minimum-parking requirements in the 1980s," but after a study "last year found that 70% of residents in eight big apartment complexes near various Portland rail stops owned at least one car, (it) reintroduced minimum parking requirements for new residential buildings of 30 units or more near rail stops".

The parking reform effort in D.C. is made possible by the success of the 37-year-old heavy rail system, Metro, that has enabled 39% of the city's residents in 2011 to be carless. That compares with 25% in 1960. Only New York City has a higher percentage - 56%.  

Harriet Tregoning, director of the city's Office of Planning, said that scaling back requirements near Metro stops is overdue.

While Hudson writes, "Nationally, car ownership has risen in recent decades. According to census data, 9.3% of U.S. households had no car in 2011, down from 10.3% in 2000 and 13% in 1990", it was reported here on June 20 that "total auto ownership peaked in 2008 according to a new report by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute".

For one suggestion for how to appease opponents of parking reform, see Matthew Yglesias's recent post on the topic for Slate.

Note from Wall Street Journal: "Subscriber-only content will be available to non-subscribers for up to seven days after (July 09)".

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal

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