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Parking Break: What Cities Gain When They Lose Parking Quotas

This is the season climax, the culmination, the big reveal.

Previously on Parking? Lots!

Cities mandate off-street parking (guided only by junk science and groupthink). They do it in fear of territorial neighbors who want “their” curb spaces left alone. Our communities suffer horribly as a result. Information technology is shaking things up, though, and cities can now charge for curb spaces more easily. They can also share the proceeds with neighborhoods. Doing that breaks the vicious political circle that perpetuates parking quotas.

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The final step -- here’s the reveal -- is so simple it’s anti-climactic. (Sorry.) Once they’ve metered the curb and bought off neighborhoods, cities can just ditch parking quotas: scratch them out and turn the page.

There’s never been a good policy reason for minimum parking requirements. Their political rationale -- preventing spillover parking -- disappears when street parking is no longer free. Then, developers can figure out for themselves how much car storage to provide, just as they decide how many dishwashers, light fixtures, and bay windows to install. The market, a spot market, emerges.

What’s not anti-climactic -- and what’s the focus of this episode -- is the encouraging degree to which cities are already taking this step. A few are reducing or outright scrapping off-street parking quotas, and many are writing exceptions to them.

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