The intersection of "how dare government mandate that I buy health insurance" conservatives and "how dare government *fail* to mandate the exact amount of parking on everyone else's private property" conservatives is fascinating. At least until you realize that the whole parking minimums are really indirect redlining that crypto-conservative old guard local politicians use in deep blue cities to win votes.

See also, SF where our local "progressives" are so pro car you'd think they are on the verge of lobbying to rebuild the Embarcadero Freeway.

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I'm currently living in a small new england college town and recently looked over its parking requirements and those of other college towns. Every one I looked at had mandatory minimums. One space per living unit. X number of spaces per table at a restaurant. Etc etc. I've been thinking about putting together a short memo for the select board suggesting removing the minimum.

Do you think it's worth while to do so? Would there be benefits in lower densisty and less transit rich places?

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I totally agree with the argument that parking minimums are harmful, but I am wary of the idea that abolishing minimums alone solves the parking issue - in particular if subsidised parking is displaced from off-street to on-street.

On-street parking is really bad! It decreases urban mobility, makes it harder for cyclists in particular to get around, encourages people to get much bigger cars that are more dangerous and polluting than they actually need, and is a huge implicit subsidy by the Government to motorists at the expense of everyone else.

The solution to this is to copy Japan and ban overnight on-street parking, and require everyone who buys a car to demonstrate that they have private land to park their car on when they buy it. This would mean people who don't own cars can use their garage for something else, but motorists are encouraged to get small, cheap cars that use very little of their private land, which means travel across the city improves. Visitors and rentals can use little commercial parking lots for overnight stays.

Parking minimums should be abolished, but their abolition can't do all the heavy lifting in policy terms here. We need to mix it with some other tools to reduce demand for car parking as well as reducing the supply of land for car parking.

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Re: Uber/Lyft I really wish urban progressives would lean into surge pricing. I generally bike or take transit anywhere I go in Chicago, save the occasional Costco trip. But my sister-in-law was visiting a couple of weeks ago and just defaults to ride share wherever she is. We were eating somewhere downtown that is a couple of blocks from a train station that would get us a couple of blocks from where we live, but we were planning to defer to my SIL who wanted to order an Uber. Turns out, it was a Saturday night in a busy part of town, and the Uber ride would have cost like 8x the cost of transit, so we took the train instead.

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Slightly off-topic, but is where there so much graffiti there? That bothered me for than anything in Matt's post.

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Public parking brings up a lot of economic concepts and theories into sharp focus. It all starts with a problem of the commons and the use and regulation of public spaces. There have been a lot of crazy schemes to marketize parking. For a brief while there was an app where you could "sell" your parking space. Many meters now expire after a vehicle has left it, which exploits people who either overestimate the time of their stay or unexpectedly have to leave early.

In many older cities sniping a snow-cleared street parking space is a social sin meriting the death penalty. Determining how parking spaces are assigned (or not) is an important factor in denser communities where the installed common parking is less than the need, particularly has families age and have more drivers in their household.

It's a practical issue which is fraught with philosophical and theoretical economic ramifications.

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Cars are f-ing awesome. It allows me not only to get wherever I want in the city I live in, but to get anywhere in a 10 hour drive radius to do whatever I want for a weekend for the price of 2-3 tanks of gas and a vacation day (or 2).

I’ve always been perplexed at the urbanites who I have worked with for my entire life that speak endlessly about their need to travel the world... yet now own a bike and no car and demand a working arrangement, that forever mandates never leaving their house.

Screw that. You’ll be seeing me burning down highways listening to npr and pulling the “I only smoke on vacation” at every coffee shop and bar in the nation. Til I die. I’ll need a place to park for that.

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I am not too happy with the CA legislature when it comes to YIMBY legislation. AB50 was killed and the Governor didn't get behind it. There's a good article from Vox-Matt about the proposed legislation.



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In the 5th paragraph of ":Mandates hobble innovation and change" there is a somewhat hilarious typo that suggests that innovation makes people careless instead of carless.

"But if an e-bike or an electric scooter expands your range of carelessness"

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A useful fact is that one parking space in a multifamily building takes up 350 square feet. So two parking spaces are the same size as a small apartment—and in some jurisdictions, that 700 sq ft apartment has to have the two parking spaces. I prefer homes for people to homes for cars.

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I live in Warsaw, which while dense compared to American cities is quite sprawly for Europe due to being built mostly post-war, and there doesn't seem to be any problem with parking. I live carless in the dead centre and a parking spot in my building is terribly expensive – people definitely sell them all the time. Some people live in more open (though I think ghastly) suburban areas where there's plenty of on street parking. Some pay for garages...my grandad even rents a garage a block from his house, in a sort of garage development. Some people live what I jokingly call the Polish dream – an American style house with a garage built 10m over the city line for tax purposes.

I don't know the exact laws around parking, but it seems to work just fine and the policy debate is largely on how to reduce the number of vehicles coming into the city centre. It's a pretty car-oriented culture, too, with the car and the house remaining status symbols. We have giant suburban big box stores with vast sprawling parking lots. I can't imagine a deregulated America would want for parking.

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I live in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which (as far as I can tell) doesn't have any parking minimums. It also had essentially zero cars until very recently. That's starting to change as the middle class emerges. I am pro everything Matt talks about but living here I can also see the appeal of parking minimums.

I don't really know *why* but people with cars seem to have an extreme amounts of entitlement when it comes to stopping and parking their cars. I live in an alley that is technically wide enough (barely) for two cars to pass side-by-side. It is described as a "two-car alley". Yet both sides of the street have cars parked from employees of local businesses. (Vietnam also lacks zoning, so businesses and residential mix.) The result is that street is (barely) wide enough for a single car.

It is common to see cars simply stopped in a lane of traffic because the owner is waiting for someone inside a local business. Cars will also park in front of people's houses and businesses nearly blocking them in. There was a fairly well-known incident a few months back where someone parked a car in front of a business and left a sign saying "please call me and I'll come move my car". The business owner instead spray painted the car and the ensuing online fight was about whether the business owner was justified or not. (Many wondered why the onus was on the business owner to call the car owner, instead of the car owner preemptively calling the business owner and asking permission.)

On the one hand you could say: All of this just means illegal parking needs to be enforced. Which is one of those things that is true but not very useful. Even in America parking enforcement has long been one of the most hated things there is. Movies have been complaining about it for 40+ years. And it isn't just America: parking enforcement is despised in nearly every country.

So I guess what I'm saying is: I see parking minimums as a legislative run-around dealing with this reality. If a local government *actually* rigidly enforced parking laws they'd almost inevitably deal with tremendous amounts of backlash. Sure, eventually, after many years, the strict enforcement might engender a new cultural norm. But all the politicians and bureaucrats would have been fired, condemned, picketed, recalled, etc.

Or....you can pass laws mandating parking minimums and fix 80% of the problem of illegal parking and get effectively zero pushback for over half a century except for Donald Shoup.

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"Mandates hobble innovation and change"

It warms my heart to see a progressive admit that.

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I have had a lengthy conversation with a transportation engineer who argued that the most realistic solution to create significant change in urban land use is driverless cars. She persuaded me that the technical challenges are much much more likely to be overcome in the near future than the mix of existing regulatory challenges.

Once we get to the point where you can have driverless cars that can drop you off and then park themselves some distance away, then many of these land-use issues associated with parking will become a lot more manageable.

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These state bills are good where you can get them passed. As a supplement, I think local YIMBY city council-folk should consider getting a multi-level parking garage built in certain residential neighborhoods as a sweetener for eliminating parking mandates. There are lots of urban neighborhoods where SFHs aren't required to have parking but big apartment and condo buildings are. Opposition to the latter inevitably come from owners of the former. If you could guarantee incumbent no-garage-SFH-owners a cheap parking spot not too far from their houses, you could drastically lower opposition. You could perhaps offer a deeply discounted rate to those SFH-owners, but charge a much higher market rate to anyone who buys a SFH in the future. It isn't the kind of thing that purist YIMBY theory would approve of, but as a realpolitik measure it might get the job done.

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Highly recommend the "The High Cost of Free Parking" by urban planner Donald Shoup.

He presents empirical data about the percentage of traffic in various urban

neighborhoods which is at any given moment just "cruising" around looking for street parking. The numbers are horrifying. Like, up to a third of all drivers in some places at some times, IIRC.

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