Lower Parking Ratios—Trend or Tragic

We all know the frustration of not being able to find parking when we need it most. Driving around for what seems an eternity after a long day at work or when you venture downtown for a special event. 

If some city officials have their way with proposed regulations, your hunt to park your vehicle may become even more difficult. Or even worse – there won’t be a spot when you need it.

Historically, parking regulations mandated an abundance of parking spaces in shopping centers, office buildings and even living spaces, such as condos and apartments – a required number of spaces per square footage of a store or 2 spots per residence. 

If there were no places to park, businesses would obviously suffer. Where would condo and apartment dwellers park their vehicles if they didn’t have dedicated spaces? 

As city centers have become more congested and space has become even more valuable, that philosophy has changed.

But … is change always for the better?

With the cost of space coupled with the current trend for rideshare services, such as Uber, Lyft and car2go – especially popular with ‘millennials’ – it seems that less parking may be what people want more of. 

But as all trends go, the next is usually a reaction to the previous. This generation’s avoidance of owning a car could be the next generation’s return to everyone owning their own car – or maybe two. Especially if alternative power sources make operating a car cheaper and better for the environment. 

What if the lower ratio of dwelling spaces to parking spaces of today doesn’t match the needs of the next generation? Living spaces and central business districts won’t be able to create new spaces to park if – more like ‘when’ – the trend reverses. Adding parking structures into densely populated areas as an afterthought is not feasible. 

I recently read an interesting article concerning parking mandates by Matthew Yglesias, noted political and economics commentator. You may agree with him, you may not. But you’ll be enlightened to the fact that parking mandates, ratios and requirements are a hot topic … and will continue to be in the future.

Two points of this article that I found the most thought provoking and cause for discussion:

  1. ‘That reducing the ratio down to .75 spaces per resident isn’t enough, but the number of required spaces should be zero.’
  2.  ‘That parking spaces are a building amenity such as granite countertops or spacious bathtubs or a fitness center or roof deck.’

As a leader in the parking industry for more than two decades, I disagree with both points. People will always need to park their transportation someplace. No matter when it was a horse and buggy or flying cars of the future, there will always be a need for some type of parking. And parking is not an amenity, it’s a necessity. It’s as vital as electricity, water or internet service. Those are not perks – they’re requirements.

And meeting the needs of a current trend, without regard for the future, is shortsighted logic and poor leadership.

After you read ‘Out, Damned Spot – Mandates on parking spares are strangling America’s Cities’, please share your thoughts on these two points … or any other points you found interesting or controversial. 

For more details on how the Reliant Parking system works, call 1-888-977-6880.

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