Parking Becomes a Liability in Urban Planning
Fascinating article in the New York Times about changing zoning trends regarding parking in urban cores, and especially near transit stations.
Although condominiums without parking are common in Manhattan and the downtowns of a few other East Coast cities, they are the exception to the rule in most of the country. In fact, almost all local governments require developers to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for each unit — and to fold the cost of the space into the housing price.
The exact regulations, which are intended to prevent clogged streets and provide sufficient parking, vary by city. Houston’s code requires a minimum of 1.33 parking spaces for a one-bedroom and 2 spaces for a three-bedroom. Downtown Los Angeles mandates 2.25 parking spaces per unit, regardless of size.
Today, city planners around the country are trying to change or eliminate these standards, opting to promote mass transit and find a way to lower housing costs.
As a New York city native who used to draw my proposed extensions to the subway system in my spare time, I've always been a strong advocate of public transit (and of bicycle commuting), and one of my only regrets about moving to our wonderful house in the country is that a car is essential to get anywhere. Neither mass transit nor bike is a realistic commuting option with the steep hills, narrow shoulders, and high vehicle speeds along our road, though in special circumstances I do bike to get someplace once in a while. And of course, I work from home but I still have to drive my son to school. And my wife and I ill sometimes go through many hoops in order to coordinate our schedules so we only need to take one car to get places.
Many cities are well set up for public transit. Even in car-crazy L.A., I've found it easy to get around on buses and trains. And in New York, Boston, or Washington, I've usually found it actually easier to get around on transit than by car--although Washington's case is peculiar, where extending the Metro resulted in an ugly pattern of car-centered retail development, and accompanying gridlock, along the suburban rail corridors. In most of Europe, of course, transit is the expectation and private car commuting is an option exercised by only a small fraction. Even very small cities, such as Rostock, Germany, have a well-developed and much-used public transit network.