By Dom Nozzi
March 28, 2003
During my tenure as a town planner for a Florida city, my city proposed to increase the amount of parking required for new developments within the city. This is an extremely common tactic for reducing parking problems.
It is also a horrendously bad idea.
Here are some of the consequences of a city increasing the amount of parking required for developments within the city:
Increased suburban sprawl, increased stormwater pollution, increased flooding, increased “heat island effect,” increased auto dependency, increased per capita car use, less walkable neighborhoods and commercial areas, increased political demand for bigger roads, increased pressure to build and enlarge Big Box retail in the area, increased number of injuries and deaths due to increased car use, increased gasoline consumption in the city, increased household transportation costs, increased loss of natural features paved over by asphalt, reduced transportation choice, reduced neighborhood quality of life, decreased agglomeration economies, reduced neighborhood compatibility with nearby commercial, reduced property values, reduced residential densities within the city, increased air pollution, reduced bus ridership, reduced walking, reduced bicycling, increased single-occupancy vehicle travel, increased cost to agencies, increased cost to businesses (who must provide an increased amount of parking), increased number of instances in which a business cannot be created (or renovated, or expanded, due to inability to increase parking), increased per capita consumption of land, reduced amount of market demand for mixed-use development.
Nearly all of these consequences of increasing the amount of parking that new development must provide are in direct contradiction to an enormous number of goals, objectives and policies of the long-range plan of the city I worked for. Makes one wonder if this “plan” is worth the paper it is written on. Or if the plan is utterly, systematically ignored.
If there is one change in the Land Development Code of the city I worked for that more overwhelmingly and comprehensively subverts the long-range plan than increased parking requirements, I am not aware of it.
What are the benefits that would outweigh the above harms when my city went ahead and increased its already excessive parking requirements?
I know of none.
Does it mean anything that ALL of the planning literature over the past 15 years strongly argues AGAINST increasing parking requirements — parking requirements that are ALREADY excessive in my city?
What ever happened to the efforts of my city to be “business friendly” (requiring more parking will substantially increase burdens to business — particularly small, local business).
Is city planning a waste of time?