Parking spaces

In some US cities, there are more than ten times as many parking spaces as households

If you’ve ever attended a city council meeting, you know people love to complain about the lack of parking. People want to be able to park their cars as close to the front door of the place they are trying to visit as possible. Such complaints create an artificial impression that parking is scarce.

But according to a new report by the Research Institute for Housing America, a branch of the Mortgage Bankers Association, cities actually have a parking glut. They are also very bad at estimating their real parking space needs. Worse still, all the land dedicated to cars contributes to skyrocketing home values, which excludes low-income renters and buyers from the market.

The study, “Quantified Parking: Comprehensive Parking Inventories for Five US Cities,” counted parking spaces in five cities: New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Iowa’s capital, Des Moines, and Jackson, Wyoming. The Earl is the first of its kind; according to the report, “comprehensive parking inventories have never existed for U.S. cities.”

The study found that parking in the United States represents billions of dollars of public and private investment. In New York alone, parking is worth $20.6 billion and is controlled by a handful of companies.

The city of Jackson, Wyoming (population 10,000) has a 27:1 ratio of parking spaces to households, according to the report, and yet a decade ago it spent $17 million on a parking structure. parking lot that offers exclusively free parking.

“When a preconception of too few parking spaces infects policy makers, more parking spaces tend to be built and provided for free to everyone,” wrote Eric Scharnhorst, senior data scientist at the startup. Parking and the author of the study.

Read more: Parking lots are an incredible waste of space. Here’s how to end it

American drivers spend on average 17 hours per year looking for the perfect parking spot, and most cars in the US are parked 95% of the time.

But scooping up valuable land for car storage has the effect of driving up the cost of land for housing, according to experts in the world: it is more lucrative to operate a car park than a home. This is ideal for property owners looking to make a return on their investments, but it makes real estate markets inhospitable to new buyers and tenants.

As the report notes (and as real estate websites confirm), the median selling price of a home in Jackson hovers around $1 million. According to a local real estate company, 2017 marked the city’s lowest real estate inventory in 30 years.

This dynamic was evident in most of the cities studied in the report. Seattle has more than twice as many parking spaces as it really needs, while Philly has nearly four parking spaces for every house. Des Moines has 83,141 homes, 217,000 people and 1.6 million parking spaces, or 19 spaces per household.

Of all the cities featured in the report, only New York, the most densely populated city in the United States, had a reasonable ratio of parking spaces per household. “There are an average of 16.2 households per acre and 10.1 parking spaces per acre in New York City,” Scharnhorst wrote.

In crowded cities where rents are rising, cities will increasingly be faced with a dilemma: parking or housing? Just this week in Silicon Valley, the city of Palo Alto – which, as the headquarters of Google, Tesla and many other technology companies, has one of the largest concentrations of wealth in the world – voted to allow people living in motorhomes to park on city property. During this time, a bill in San Francisco that would allow its transit operator to build housing over station properties is currently before the California legislature. (Don’t get too excited. California also recently shot down a bill this would have allowed for more residential construction near public transportation.)

However, these are only palliative measures. As the report suggests, cities should conduct regular parking audits to diagnose current car storage supplies and prescribe a more sensible solution to a looming housing crisis.

What a lot of cities really need is to become more affordable, and that’s done in part by maximizing the zoning of land for housing, as well as promoting public transit.

Solve Motherboard’s weekly internet-themed crossword: Solve Internet.

Tags : city councilparking lotsparking spacesreal estate
Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins