The high cost of free parking

The high cost of free parking

“And we’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building” Four months before he died in 2011, Steve
Jobs made his final public appearance pitching Apple’s new campus, which opened this year. Central to his vision was turning existing
parking lots into a green landscape. STEVE JOBS
“The overall feeling of the place is gonna be a zillion times better than it is now,
with all the asphalt. so we’d like to plant a lot of trees including
some apricot orchards…” But Jobs didn’t mention that the new parking
structure on campus would have had more floor space than the office building. That’s because it wasn’t Apple’s plan. The decision came from the city of Cupertino,
which demanded 11,000 parking spots for the campus. But Cupertino is hardly unique. It’s estimated that in America there are
8 parking spots for every car, covering up to 30% of our cities, and collectively taking
up about as much space as the state of West Virginia. The more parking we have, the more we’re
able to drive. The rules that manage our parking needs not
only influence the way we move around but also shape our urban landscapes. DONALD SHOUP: If you look at pictures of the
American cities around 1920 and 1930, all of the curbs are just completely filled with
parked cars. And they couldn’t use prices to manage demand
because the parking meter wasn’t even invented until 1935. This is Donald Shoup. An Urban planning professor at UCLA, whose
speciality is parking. As cars filled cities in the early 20th century,
two inventions came to dominate parking management throughout the United States. The first was the parking meter. DONALD SHOUP: The way the meter manufacturers
popularized parking meters was they offered them free to cities and they kept the revenue
until the meter was paid for in about 6 months – and then the city got all the revenue. They offered to install them on one side of
the street only, so people could see how it worked on one side, and how it worked on the
other. Around the same time the parking meter was
invented, cities invented the idea of off street parking requirements. Off street parking requirement, also known
as mandatory parking minimums, are the second invention. And though you may not be aware of it them,
most of the parking lots you’re used to exist because of these rules in the background. SHOUP: look at any place from the air, any
suburban place from the air – you see an awful lot of land taken up for parking. And most people don’t know why. It’s our policy that we require our cities
to be built with a lot of parking. With the suburbanization after World War II,
off-street parking requirements became popular with city governments. They forced developers to include a parking
for their new buildings, which created a huge supply of parking lots at no cost to the city. SHOUP: Off street parking requirements really
spread throughout the United States faster than really any other urban planning invention. And they arose partly because of the lack
of management of on-street parking. If you can’t manage the on street parking
properly, you need off street parking requirements or everybody will say “how did you let this
building be built when there’s not enough parking.” A typical requirement looks like this: For every 1000 square feet of new building,
there has to be a set number of parking spots which varies by land use. SHOUP: You have to have parking spaces per
something. It could be a number of spaces per bassinet
in a hospital, or per holes in a golf course, or per thousand gallons of water in a swimming
pool. One of the oddest ones is for a funeral home,
because that’s sort of – parking spaces per what? An average parking spot requires about 330
square feet, which includes car storage and empty space for the access aisles. That means If a policy requires 3 spots per
thousand feet, the parking lot needs to be the size of the building. And many parking requirements need more spots,
a restaurant may need 10 spots per thousand square feet, making the parking lot over three
times larger than the restaurant. SHOUP: Planners don’t have any training
in how to set them, and there’s really no way to say how much parking every building
needs, so there’s a pseudoscience that has grown up, like blood letting, which was a
major form of medical treatment for a couple thousand years, and that’s just like parking
requirements today. Building parking is expensive especially when
it involves a large construction project. SHOUP: We pay for the free parking that we
demand in every role that we have in life other than as a driver. As a tax payer, as a resident, as a shopper. And just because you pay nothing for parking
at the parking lot of the grocery store doesn’t mean the cost goes away. It’s still there. It’s just that the driver isn’t paying
for it. Developers who don’t comply with parking requirements
pay tens of thousands of dollars for every spot that they don’t include. A lot of times, these costs prohibit new development. SHOUP: This is the most valuable land on earth. Land is expensive for housing but its free
for parking. And you wonder why we have a problem? Parking requirements often result in more
parking space than building space, so they lower density of cities, pushing buildings
further apart from each other, making it harder to walk and encouraging more driving. Many of the dense cities that we love like
Paris, Washington DC or Amsterdam or New York wouldn’t look like this with parking requirements. These arbitrary rules continue to shape the
growth of our cities, and increase traffic congestion. But the excessive amount of land dedicated
to parking spaces is able to be repurposed. SHOUP: We have a terrific opportunity to convert
underused parking lots into housing to parking for people who want to live. The upside is that we have a lot of benefits
to reap from changing our policies. SHOUP: To boil an 800-page book into three
bullet points, I have three basic recommendations. Remove off-street parking requirements. Charge the right price for on-street parking, by which I mean the lowest price the city can charge and still have one or two open spaces on every block. So nobody can say there’s a shortage of parking. In order to reach that price you have to vary
it by location and time of day. But once you’ve done that, and make it politically
popular you can spend the revenue on public services on the metered streets. Well I’m worn out.


  1. Sounds great until they start taking parking lots for buildings but parking demand increases and now instead of $16/day to park it's $52/day to park. And none of those businesses have to provide parking to their employees or contribute to creating public transportation — but you better be to work on time or else.

  2. How about you plant solar cells onto them and use the energy you get for green electricity-based public transportation? Just an idea

  3. Make it more miserable to drive so that all us bicycle users can have it our way. Basically every modern solution to traffic.

  4. It doesn't actually cost anything it only costs something to occupy a small piece of land when somebody comes and tells you that it's worth something

  5. You make a video to show how it costs to have free parking, yet fail to see how much it will cost to have “free” healthcare, etc

  6. This makes sense. Forcing companies to build more parking takes a lot of land, which hurts consumers on two fronts.

    By making land more scarce, it drives to cost of property up, which drives up your rent.

    It also put a lot of costs in businesses, which makes them pass the cost onto you.

    Together, it greatly expands the cost of living.

  7. It’s immoral to charge anybody to park a car! Every single person who gets out of a car is about to patronize a business or create one. The economy relies upon us getting to each other and it is a predatory practice to charge people to get out of their cars!

  8. His recommendation is to charge more for on street parking based on market and availability and make homes on existing parking lots? Won't this bring more people with more cars on already crouded streets? Oh wait. He said charge accordingly so it's cheapest cost to keep at least 2 spots open. The only thing leaving the spots open is the market price which will be in the hundreds to park for a day. On paper it solves the availability of spots but not practical

  9. Soooo, if you're going to replace parking lots with housing apartments, where are those people going to park? 😂

  10. I wonder if you can encourage a change to underground parking, paid for with tax subsidies, then turn parking lots over to business, housing, or just parks.

  11. Nice one sided story. Sounds to me like businesses trying to get out of paying for something. As usual.

  12. The whole idea of having nowhere near enough parking for the new building you're producing isn't theoretical – it's a massive problem in old cities and these laws are being introduced in places that haven't had them historically because of it. I've been in places where there's lots of apartment buildings but exactly 0 of them have underground parking or parking lots beside them and the end result is practically a mad max battle for people to get the tiny amount of road parking that you have to pay for, it's a nightmare. Public transit needs to improve for sure but it's not a silver bullet that solves these problems in the foreseeable future

  13. First world problems.must be so chaotic for first world countries to handle.hope you solve this problem my prayers are with you and your children 😀

  14. In india, we don't even have roads and proper drainage in our metro cities, these 1st world folks are debating about parking spaces😂

  15. Be grateful you can find plenty of parking lot bcs of that, try to come here in Indonesia, and you will know what gonna happen when there is no rules for constructor to build parking lot

  16. Brick & Mortar shopping is dying fast. Soon thousands of parking lots will become available for residential development.

  17. how can someone look into how a developer built buildings without parking.. like around 405 main st… nyc… ny 10044 all 8 buildings.. have no parking around…

  18. Why are government goons making these plans instead of professional scholars and researchers like Professor Shoup?
    Can someone from the US please answer me

  19. Government can't fill a pot hole or maintain the public roads with public funds . They sure become evil geniuses when it comes to parking meters and other ways to create revenue . If they charge you for using your vehicle . Just fight it and use Washington D.C. Law open as a matter public vehicular travel . The police get jurisdiction from Washington D.C. and the only way for them to charge you is by jurisdiction . So basically they have to use color of law . They need jrisdiction to charge you , but if they get jurisdiction they can't charge you according to the law's in Washington . Just like marijuana .

  20. The act of cities waking up and abolishing the antiquated 1950s era parking requirement is NOT the same as banning new parking infrastructure development. No longer forcing someone to do something isn't the same thing as banning it–it's giving them flexibility.

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