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Parking Strategies to Reduce Environmental Impacts and Improve Place

Problem Statement
One of the most powerful factors reinforcing auto-dependent development and precluding alternative transportation modes is the prevailing assumption that all new suburban developments will be served by free parking. Furthermore, local governments’ zoning codes generally require more than five parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of commercial development. Although these requirements can be justified on the basis that they protect surrounding neighborhoods from "spillover" parking, they may lead to excessive investment in parking. It is estimated that in urban areas, every vehicle will require between 5 and 10 parking spaces. Parking lots not only consume ever-increasing amounts of urban land that could be used for productive land uses, but they result in nonpoint source pollution that degrades water quality.
There are other costs associated with “free” parking. The "opportunity cost" of parking at an unmanaged lot, which the owner assumes has no land value, is estimated to cost $2 per parking space per day or approximately $500 per parking space per year. Structured parking will have substantially higher costs, but will still be given away for free. The availability of “free” parking may also bias the mode choice towards driving instead of using transit and other lternative modes of transportation.
Shoup and Willson have completed studies on parking pricing. Advocates of New Urbanism and other urban designers along with developers of mixed-projects have proposed designs that mask the impact of parking on the urban environment. Beyond these efforts, little research has been completed on the topic. Free parking is so widely accepted that little consideration has been given to changing public policies that could have a dramatic affect on urban form and transportation. Proposed Research
This project will explore alternative strategies for addressing parking needs to reduce the intrusion of impervious surfaces on the landscape and its visual impacts and degradation of urban design. The research should address the following issues in parking policy, design, supply, configuration, and management: • Reduce environmental impacts. A study of successful efforts to reduce the parking space requirements and associate impacts of runoff will be conducted. Case studies will be prepared of the various approaches, such as alternative parking configurations, smaller stall sizes, shared parking, reductions in total supply, and the development of structured parking. • Create more attractive and walkable places. A survey of best practices in the design and management of parking will be conducted to show how to create more vibrant urban places with a pedestrian orientation, and how to develop policy instruments and improved planning practices for estimating parking demand and induced demand as a function of the price of parking. A combination of recognized municipal leaders, parking consultants, and parking authorities will be polled to obtain leading edge examples where parking supply is used for multiple purposes, distributed throughout the development, and/or priced to encourage efficient use.
• Estimate the true cost of parking. The direct costs and indirect effects of parking will be developed. Direct costs include cost of building, maintaining parking lots, mitigation, and the associated cost of land. Indirect affects will include runoff and the associated water pollution and the impact on urban design and urban form.
Cost: $300,000
Duration: 18 months

Sponsoring Committee:AMS50, Economic Development and Land Use
Date Posted:08/08/2007
Date Modified:08/09/2007
Index Terms:Land use planning, City planning, Parking facilities, Parking fees, Parking garages, Mixed use development, Parking policy, Shared parking,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Planning and Forecasting
Terminals and Facilities

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