Donald Shoup hits it out of the park

The author of The High Cost of Free Parking has an article in Access magazine today called “Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements” and everyone needs to read it.

“We are poisoning our cities with too much parking,” Shoup wrote.

According to his research parking requirements for Los Angeles’s shopping centers increase the cost of building them by 67 percent for an above ground structure and 93 percent for underground parking. The result is that “People who are too poor to own a car pay more for their groceries to ensure that richer people can park for free when they drive to the store.”

If that isn’t bad enough, Shoup puts the parking issue in stark perspective with two charts. One shows the cost of building parking in major cities in per square foot and per space for both underground and above ground spaces. The other shows the median net worth of white, Black and Hispanic households.

The upshot is that the average cost of building a surface parking spot is nearly four times the median net worth of Black households. That’s not to say there’s a zero-sum relationship and that minorities are poor because money was spent on parking, but transportation and urban policy is definitely one of the systemic issues plaguing Black communities — and it is Black and Hispanic people more like to feel the squeeze from higher grocery prices, higher housing costs and the 60 years of disinvestment in public transportation.

As we are learning from Strong Towns, those parking lots are not only expensive to the developer (and sit mostly empty even on Black Friday), but is actually a drag on the local economy.

Shoup writes that among planners, parking requirements are an established religion. He adds that if so, he’s a protestant and the religion needs a reformation. On the contrary, parking requirements are idols that need to be smashed.

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