Friday, January 06, 2012

Pave Everything

End parking minimums.

But what does this entail? For big cities like New York it is high time to abandon outmoded zoning codes from the auto-boom days requiring specific ratios of parking spaces per housing unit, or per square foot of retail space. These rules about minimum parking spaces have driven up the costs of apartments for developers and residents, damaged the environment, diverted money that could have gone to mass transit and created a government-mandated cityscape that’s largely unused. We keep adding to the glut of parking lots. Crain’s recently reported on the largely empty garages at new buildings like Avalon Fort Greene, a 42-story luxury tower near downtown Brooklyn, and 80 DeKalb Avenue, up the block, both well occupied, both of which built hundreds of parking spaces to woo tenants. Garages near Yankee Stadium, built over the objections of Bronx neighbors appalled at losing parkland for yet more parking lots, turn out never to be more than 60 percent full, even on game days. The city has lost public space, the developers have lost a fortune.

There is potentially a role for local governments in parking policy, though massive parking minimums in extremely dense places with good mass transit access are simply bad policy. On that issue specifically, if I ran the zoo I'd let developers build parking if they wanted to, though I wouldn't allow condo units and parking spots to be bundled. Build the spots and lease or sell them as a separate transaction. With something like a stadium the issue is a bit trickier, though it's clear that they've stupidly erred on the side of way too much parking.