“Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars,” Donald Shoup famously wrote. Shoup is professor of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California at Los Angeles, and is a prominent critic of parking policy, such as free parking and minimum parking requirements.
As urban populations grow, a variety of outdated rules create hurdles for cities trying to accommodate more people while maintaining and improving livability and walkability. Minimum parking requirements, or parking minimums, are a prime example. These municipal rules are simple enough: developers building a new residential or commercial project must also provide a minimum number of new parking spaces, usually based on the square footage of the building. There is typically no consideration of nearby transit options or, indeed, of the need for the new parking spaces. These spaces are nearly always free for the user, according to Shoup, because “Most cities are planned on the unstated assumption that parking should be free—no matter how high the cost.”
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