"Boston’s parking solution is not more parking"

Posted by Ryan Croft on 5/2/14 10:40 AM

Paul McMorrowan associate editor at CommonWealth magazine, recently wrote a column for the Boston Globe titled "Boston’s parking solution is not more parking." Politicians and neighborhood officials in South Boston have recently been blaming residential real estate developers for bringing in more residents, which in turn has been causing more gridlock. But the issue isn't that there are too many people moving into the area. The real issue, McMorrow states, is "zoning around Boston routinely requires developers to build more parking than residents actually use. Ducking a fight over development and parking now means over-building parking."

The younger generation, the Millennials, the generation that is moving into urban areas at the highest rate in decades, would prefer to live in cities with good public transit. In a recent study from The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, 66% mentioned high quality transportation as one of the major factors in deciding where to live (courtesy of USA Today). They prefer to be multimodal, to live in smart cities that supports efficient urban mobility. So what can Boston officials do to combat the issue of increased gridlock and parking problem, in wake of the continuing influx of younger residents?

Cars lined up at parking spots in Boston

Here are a few excerpts from Paul McMorrow's column:

"If parking is a problem, the answer is to build apartments that have no parking at all."

"There are 50,000 fewer cars registered in Boston today than there were in 2008, but the politics hasn’t caught up. Even in South Boston, where neighborhood politicians are pushing a one-home, one-space requirement, one in four households doesn’t own a car; in the western half of the neighborhood, where the new development is concentrated, that figure is one in three."

"Northeastern University professor Stephanie Pollack has studied gentrification around transit stops across the country, and she’s found that one of the biggest mistakes municipalities make is requiring too much parking. Pollack’s data show that, given the choice, residents will self-select: Heavy drivers choose to live in homes that provide parking, and residents who don’t own cars will choose transit-oriented, low-parking homes. This is especially true for renters. So the answer to an urban parking crunch isn’t adding supply. It’s recognizing that parking demand isn’t monolithic. Urban parking is a choice, and if Boston really does have too many cars already, the answer isn’t to build room for more."

Read the full story in the Boston Globe

Topics: Smart Cities