Pave paradise? No, ditch the parking lot

Author: PHILIP LANGDON
Issue: April/May 2005
Issue Date: Fri, 2005-04-01
Page Number: 1

 

Planning expert Donald Shoup offers a novel solution to places damaged by too much parking. For years urbanists have tried a wide assortment of tactics to reduce the damage that parking inflicts on communities. Now comes UCLA urban planning professor Donald C. Shoup with a radical, yet carefully argued prescription: Governments should stop requiring off-street parking. In The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup systematically attacks ingrained ideas that have prevented urbanists from asking the most basic question of all: Why should governments require parking other than on the streets? “Few people now recognize parking requirements as a disaster because the costs are hidden and the harm is diffused,” Shoup says in the 734-page, $59.95 hardcover from APA Planners Press. He contends that “parking requirements cause great harm: they subsidize cars, distort transportation choices, warp urban form, increase housing costs, burden low-income households, debase urban design, damage the economy, and degrade the environment.” His verdict: “Off-street parking requirements have all the hallmarks of a great planning disaster.” A Yale-trained economist and former director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA, Shoup says the longstanding municipal practice of assigning parking requirements is nonsense. “Urban planners set minimum parking requirements for every land