Monday, August 16, 2010

The $31,000 Parking Space?

In the NY Times, Tyler Cowen takes on the high cost of subsidized parking.  Money quote:

The subsidies are largely invisible to drivers who park their cars — and thus free or cheap parking spaces feel like natural outcomes of the market, or perhaps even an entitlement. Yet the law is allocating this land rather than letting market prices adjudicate whether we need more parking, and whether that parking should be free. We end up overusing land for cars — and overusing cars too. You don’t have to hate sprawl, or automobiles, to want to stop subsidizing that way of life.

Steve Clowney

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Steve, thanks for pointing out an interesting article. That's a book I'd really like to read.

One thing I would add to the article (not yet having read the book), is that developers do not generally provide the minimum number of parking spaces required by code because (a) they make no money off parking spaces and want to maximize their leaseable square footage; and (b) most retail tenants require more than code.

For example, the prevailing requirement from big box and junior box retailers was 5 parking spaces per 1,000 sf of space. Restaurants require even more. Nowadays, retailers are dropping their minimum to 4/1,000, but many old leases out there require the higher number. My point is simply that even if the law changes, unless the law caps the number of parking spaces that a developer may provide (in other words, the complete opposite of the current codes) then tenants will also have to get on board.

A second observation -- parking fields are cheap to build, but structured parking is very expensive. A lack of public incentives to pay for structured parking lends itself to lower density and suburban sprawl.

Posted by: Tanya Marsh | Aug 16, 2010 1:47:32 PM

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