Cincinnati May Scrap Parking Minimums Downtown

A blog about business and economics.
April 18 2012 11:24 AM

Cincinnati May Scrap Parking Minimums Downtown

1334762693806
Cincinnati, as seen from Northern Kentucky

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Cincinnati City Councilor Roxanne Qualls is leading the charge to abolish parking minimums for developers building homes in the downtown and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods.

I'm particularly excited to learn of this development for personal reasons. Qualls was mayor of Cincinnati in the late-1990s and after leaving office did a stint at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government as an Institute of Politics Fellow. While there, she led an undergraduate study group about urban planning that I participated in. So, in a meaningful way, my present obsession with parking regulations and anti-density rules all goes back to Qualls, and now she's taking the lead on an important reform initiative.

Advertisement

The current rule is that each residence in those neighborhoods must have a parking space. This does a few things. One is that it increases the per unit cost of housing. As a consequence, there's less housing in those neighborhoods than there otherwise would be. And as a consequence of that reduced density there's less walkability than would otherwise exist. Then, on the flipside, it's hardly as if in a nonregulated environment developers wouldn't be building any parking. It's just that the regulatory mandate means that parking is available to car owners at below-market rates. That subsidized parking leads to somewhat more cars-per-household being owned (as always, the one car/two car margin may be more important here than the one car/zero cars margin) which leads to less business development that caters to nonautomotivity. So the below-market pricing of parking spaces actually increases the real market demand for cars and parking. Absent the regulation, you'll start out with a marginally lower level of cars per adult. But that will lead to more businesses oriented toward transit, walking, biking, or delivery. And that will increase the viability of getting by with fewer than one car per adult. And specifically on the auto front, once you have a substantial population getting by with fewer cars than people you have more of a market for things like ZipCar and taxis that are specifically designed to help people engage in sporadic car use without necessarily being twice-a-day car commuters.

Correction April 18, 2012: Originally, the headline of this post mistakenly said Cleveland, rather than Cincinnati, was considering changing its parking regulations. It also misspelled the name of Roxanne Qualls.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nicolas Sarkozy, Thrice Married, Says Gay Marriage Humiliates the Family

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 5:33 PM The Politics of Stigma Why are lighter-skinned Latinos and Asians more likely to vote Republican?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 5:45 PM The University of California Corrects “Injustice” by Making Its Rich Chancellors Even Richer
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.