“Parking minimums are disastrous for our towns and cities. They hurt small businesses, reduce walkability, are harmful to the environment, and result in parking deserts that are expensive to maintain and generate little tax revenue” says Strong Towns.
Incredibly, the zoning which decrees miminum parking requirements has led to approximately one-third of our cities being taken up by parking lots, making them perhaps the most noticeable feature of our cities. In many cases parking lots take up more space than the stores that they service. Eran Ben-Joseph, a professor of urban planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, estimates that there could be at least 500 million parking spaces in the US and maybe as many as 2 billion. That’s between 3,590 and 14,360 square miles of asphalt.
The rationale behind many of these parking minimums was to allow enough space for the busiest day of the year. But even the year’s most popular shopping day, Black Friday, has seen some parking lots hardly full, as witnessed by the #BlackFridayParking campaign organized by Strong Towns every November. You can see some of the images on instagram or twitter.
What about the other 364 days?
It’s not so difficult to change the zoning codes. Sandpoint, Idaho, did it. In 2009 they completely eliminated off-street parking in their historic downtown. It was a contentious decision at the time and not unanimous, but that one line of code was so successful in bringing investment and vibrancy to downtown that ten years later Sandpoint has expanded the de-regulated area and substantially reduced minimum requirements for the rest of the city.
Let’s change the code everywhere.
Read the full story here.