Unbundling Parking Costs to Keep Families in Cities

Cities tend to attract Millennials, but as the saying goes, when they get older and start families, off they go to the suburbs! Seattle developer and author A-P Hurd promotes parking unbundling as a key strategy enabling families to remain in cities.

August 11, 2014, 5:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


A-P Hurd, also a Runstad Fellow in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, understands the importance of parking in urban living. In this piece, she writes how it affects housing affordability, but not just any housing - family housing.

Families need at least two bedrooms (and preferably more) to be comfortable. Ideally they would have separate (or semi-private) rooms for teenagers of different genders, or for relatives who come to visit. They want yards and access to safe places for their children to play. Many cities want to encourage the production of family-sized apartment units, but few two and three-bedroom apartment units are being built

"So how can cities meet these needs and encourage the private sector to build affordable urban housing for families? Well, they can start by changing their parking policies, " she writes.

Urban affordability and parking policy are closely connected. In urban apartment and condo projects, parking is almost always required, and because of the high price of urban land, typically that parking is provided underground.

Turns out that a key reason for bundling parking with living space, according to Hurd, has nothing to do with the residents' mobility needs but concerns of the neighbors, who are guarded about giving up street parking, referencing a piece she wrote in 2012 (and posted here).

"If cities are really committed to affordable housing, they need to look harder at their land use and building code requirements—such as bundling parking with living space—that structurally raise the cost of urban life," she writes.

Hurd recommends residential parking permits and properly priced street parking as better ways to manage street parking, particularly if scarce, rather than ensuring that new housing have the parking costs bundled with housing costs.

Thursday, August 7, 2014 in CityLab

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