‘All Parking is Political’: Link on Parking Policy and Urbanism

There really is nothing I can add to the quotations below except to urge readers to click on the link and see the full story, and to note that the trivial sounding topic of parking must make an enormous difference to the physical structure and life of a city.   How many cars can be parked in a city, where and at what price, makes the strongest differences to residential, business, and travel choices, changing everything about the city.

Donald Shoup, ‘Free Parking of Free Markets’, CatoUnbound

Some people assume that America has a freely chosen love affair with the car. I think it was really an arranged marriage. By recommending minimum parking requirements in zoning ordinances, the planning profession was both a matchmaker and a leading member of the wedding party.

All parking is political, and the prospects for parking reform depend on what the political context allows. Diverse interests from across the political spectrum can for different reasons support a shift from minimum parking requirements to performance parking prices. Liberals will see that it increases public spending. Conservatives will see that it reduces government regulation. Environmentalists will see that it reduces energy consumption, air pollution, and carbon emissions. Businesses will see that it unburdens enterprise. New urbanists will see that it enables people to live at high density without being overrun by cars. Libertarians will see that it increases the opportunities for individual choice. Developers will see that it reduces building costs. Neighborhood activists will see that it devolves public decisions to the local level. Local elected officials will see that it reduces traffic congestion, encourages infill redevelopment, and pays for local public services without raising taxes. The current system of planning for parking does such widespread harm that the right reforms can benefit almost everyone.


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