Thursday, January 3, 2008

Errant Zoning: Parking Requirements

Via Streetsblog, the NYT ran an OpEd I missed over the holidays: The High Price of Parking. It's not what you might think.
In most of New York City, a developer who puts up a new building is required to provide a minimum number of parking spaces. These requirements were first put in place in 1950, when the prevailing wisdom was that the automobile would be the transportation mode of the future. . . . .

But off-street parking requirements have themselves become an expensive problem: developers must devote money and space to parking lots and garages, or not build at all. This limits the supply of housing, retail and office space, creating higher rents for residents and businesses, and higher prices for consumer goods. . . . .

The parking requirement also creates a subsidy for cars at the expense of the economy and environment. By forcing developers to provide parking, we are making it easier to drive. In New York, the public transit capital of America, this is disgraceful. . . . . Eliminating the parking requirements will reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and it will free acres of land for new housing, stores and offices. It will allow all developers to build more affordable housing and encourage more convenient, transit-friendly retail and commercial destinations.

This rings true for me. And it brings me back to a point I read in the Union-Sackett notes from their meeting with the Clarrett Group over 340 Court Street. Is it really appropriate to require a minimum of 70 new parking spaces in this development?

I understand that parking in the neighborhood is tight as it is. But creating more parking attracts more cars, just as building more highways creates more traffic.

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