Parking Requirements Are Horrible

A blog about business and economics.
March 21 2013 4:22 PM

When You Require Less Parking, People Build More Houses and Less Parking

Birds fly across the sky at daybreak over the downtown Los Angeles skyline on December 14, 2011.

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Via Alex Block, your obvious-but-important research finding of the day is that when you liberalize parking requirements people build more dwellings and fewer parking spaces. That's Michael Manville "Parking Requirements as a Barrier to Housing Development: Regulation and Reform in Los Angeles":

Abstract: Using a partial deregulation of residential parking in downtown Los Angeles, I examine the impact of minimum parking requirements on housing development. I find that when parking requirements are removed, developers provide more housing and less parking, and also that developers provide different types of housing: housing in older buildings, in previously disinvested areas, and housing marketed toward non-drivers. This latter category of housing tends to sell for less than housing with parking spaces. The research also highlights the importance of removing not just quantity mandates but locational mandates as well. Developers in dense inner cities are often willing to provide parking, but ordinances that require parking to be on the same site as housing can be prohibitively expensive.

Something to note here is that it's not that developers didn't provide any parking. It just wasn't always as plentiful or as directly proximate as it otherwise would have been. The inflexibility of proximity rules is a fascinating issue in its own right as seen in the sad case of the would-be Anacostia Playhouse. The idea was to repurpose an old warehouse in a largely blighted area as a theater, and have some parking spaces in a lot across the alley. But the zoning code as written requires the parking to be on the very same lot as the theater, which can't be done in this case since there's already a building on it. DC normally tries to handle this kind of unreasonableness through a time-consuming variance application process that gives sundry NIMBYs and extortionists different opportunities to hold people up.

Common sense says that the theater operator is well-aware that many patrons will want to drive to his theater and is capable of coming up with a reasonable solution that accounts for the local geography on his own. Who cares that the parking facility on the other side of the alley isn't technically on the same lot? It's irrelevant in practice, but it makes all the difference in the world to the zoning code.

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



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 6:22 PM Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
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.