Strong Towns recently published a piece briefly explaining the origins of parking — it started with the British military, apparently — and suggesting that cities need to adopt new practices, particularly when it comes to parking minimums.
Among the most important points author Jon Commers makes is that developers are still willing to include parking in projects, but that younger Americans don’t want to pay for parking as part of their housing costs:
- Younger Americans continue to pursue a driver’s license at falling rates, represent a shrinking share of the car-buying market, and want the affordability of a home without parking bundled into it; but
- Despite all of that, most office and residential lessees or buyers still demand some level of off-street parking, and it’s built. Of course, there are notable exceptions to this, too.
Commers goes on to relate how he worked on a plan in St. Paul to eliminate parking minimums in “traditional neighborhood” zones near a transit stop. The lack of minimums didn’t result in a complete absence of parking, but it did allow people to use land more efficiently. Developers also added less parking, according to market demands.
There’s no reason a similar approach wouldn’t work in Provo, particularly in downtown. I’m obviously biased — I’ve been harping on the ills of parking minimums since I started this blog — but there really is a mountain of evidence that parking minimums are detrimental to cities, despite fears to the contrary. Commers’ post provides an actual example of city improvement after parking minimums are removed. It also points out that demographic shifts require a smarter approach to parking:
The demographic pressure to change attitudes about parking only seems to be intensifying, as younger Americans’ economic influence continues to build. Developers and property owners are seeking to maximize value on urban sites. […] The extent to which car parking – that much-maligned urban feature – diminishes is a function of what choices we make as households in the context of this shift.