A recent NY Times article highlights examples of condos being built without associated parking spaces. Although this practice goes against the codes in many communities, planners are realizing that “free parking” might be a reason why housing has become so unaffordable to middle-income families.
The article quotes Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of The High Cost of Free Parking, “In the United States, housing is expensive and parking is cheap. We’ve got it the wrong way around.”
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.