Everything you need to know about parking policy

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 2/1/18 11:02 AM

The world of parking policy can be a little overwhelming. Plus, you’re TDM-minded and would rather not encourage people to keep driving to and from your property.

If you’ve read your Donald Shoup, then you know there’s no such thing as free parking. (If you haven’t, then we recommend you get started here.) Real estate developers and urban planners are likely familiar with this problem: Because free parking isn’t being paid for by the person driving the car, it has to be accounted for somewhere else.

Minimum parking requirements are partially to blame here. Though they initially were meant to ensure new developments would be able to compete with existing ones, the shift to more transit-oriented developments has rendered this unnecessary in many instances.

Cars in parking lot with empty spaces What many parking lots in new, TOD-centered areas end up looking like: empty. (Photo courtesy:  Mental Floss)

Many cities have begun to get rid of minimum parking requirements, or at least reduce them; you can find a pretty thorough analysis of which cities are doing what over at Strong Towns. When looking through it, you may notice a pattern — most of the cities eliminating them are on the top of any “smart cities” list you’ll find online.

But if your city hasn’t made those changes yet, what can you do? We’ve got some suggestions:

Charge for parking by the day, not by the month.

Seattle has been making headlines for its very slight increase in car commuters while adding tens of thousands of new residents. One of the secrets? Charging for parking by the day, not by the month, according to the Seattle Times.

If you charge for parking by the month, people will continue to drive to work because they already paid a substantial fee to do so. If you charge by the day, on the other hand, each day spent driving to work and parking adds to the amount they’re spending. It may seem small, but it makes a huge difference.

Set prices higher for parking than they would be for a transit pass

This one’s pretty clear — if you set the price for daily parking higher than two transit passes, or monthly parking to the equivalent of monthly transit usage, people are more likely to take transit than they are to pay for parking.

Alternatively, if they do end up paying for parking anyway, then you’re making back some of the exorbitant cost of the parking facilities in the first place. (You can read more about this suggestion here!)

Focus on expanding TDM measures to encourage alternative transportation

There are a lot of ways you can help push people toward more sustainable methods of transportation, even if there’s parking available at your property. One of them is simply to give people information about what’s around them; awareness is a powerful tool in beginning to change behavior.

Whether it’s including a real-time display of mobility options (ahem) or something as simple as sending out emails to building tenants about the new bikeshare station installed across the street, everything makes a difference.

Topics: TDM, Mobility