Fungible Parking?

I ran across an interesting pair of blog posts last week on the “Reinventing Parking” blog.

One asks whether government could tone down the idea of “parking minimums” (parking that is required to be built as part of a new development) by requiring instead that developers simply identify features of their project that could be converted to parking if the demand requires it. The requirement would be shifted from a “parking minimum” to “potential parking“.

The second idea is the converse of this, which is that when building new parking, there should be an identified plan for how it could be turned into something else.

Portland is pretty aggressive about having low parking minimums (zero if you’re close to transit) but even here as we think about how we allocate space while planning for a future forseen by our Climate Action Plan where there will be a lot less driving, I wonder if these wouldn’t be interesting tools to bake into the Portland Plan.

2 Comments

2 Responses to Fungible Parking?

  1. Manzell B
    November 24, 2010 at 9:53 am Link

    I work in parking, on the public side, in a large city.

    I feel like parking minimums are appropriate, even if they are unpopular. I know the current thought is that by removing parking minimums and maxmimums, you’re letting the free market decide what level of parking is appropriate, but I think that the reality is that this penalizes previous developments by allowing new development to cannibalize the parking provided by predecessors for free. The logical extreme is a large stadium, well served by roads and not by transit, opting not to provide any parking (regardless of if that would be a wise business decision, it’s one that a large parking generator ought not to be able to make).

    Long story short – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Developers need to pay for the externalities they impose on others, and requiring an appropriate amount of parking to be provided is an easy-to-enforce policy.

  2. Chris Rall
    November 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm Link

    @Manzell:

    Why do you assume that other developments have to provide their parking for free to users of the new development? As parking demand rises because of other development, they can actually start charging parkers and get some value out of their existing parking.

    Your example of a stadium built with “not enough” parking would provide opportunity for nearby landowners to build parking structures, rent parking spaces and make money.

    I’ve noticed in these discussions about parking, proponents of requiring more parking assume it remains free either way. So I guess it’s free-market versus free parking, eh?

    And as to developers paying for “externalities they impose,” it seems more appropriate to attribute the costs of parking impacts directly to people who are parking their cars, not on developers who pass that cost on to everyone, regardless of how they get to the baseball game.

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