Over the weekend, the Herald shed light on an encouraging trend beginning to take hold downtown - developers are finally building projects WITHOUT ANY ON-SITE PARKING. As we’ve been saying since practically the inception of TM, minimum parking requirements have been cancerous in virtually every part of Miami, particularly downtown. These minimum parking requirements mandate developers to spend tens-of-thousands-of-dollars per space, which serves only to reinforce Miami’s harmful, unlivable, unsustainable auto-centric culture. It induces driving demand, which clogs streets and pollutes our air. It fractures urban continuity with retched surface lots and massive, monolithic garage pedestals. It makes it very difficult to improve transit and walkability.

However, we all win when projects are built with little or no parking, especially in the urban core and near transit stations. It allows developers to save money, which translates to much more affordable housing, which is badly needed throughout Miami and South Florida. It allows for a more cohesive urban block structure, which with proper planning translates to much better pedestrian environments. It also encourages people to walk, bicycle, and take transit, which drives demand for enhancements in these sectors. And, fewer cars on the road means safer, more livable streets, less road rage, less pollution, less noise, and more attention paid to our public spaces.

According to the Herald piece, the parking-free buildings recently constructed downtown (Loft 1 and Loft 2) have been so successful, the Related Group is now planning two more (Loft 3 and Loft 4), even in a slowed condo market. Moreover, another developer, Keystone Holdings, is also planning to construct parking-free condos downtown.

“Urban housing should not have parking on-site, especially work-force housing…Every great city has shared parking. But people in Miami have to be educated that that’s the way it should be.”

- Miami Real Estate Analyst Michael Cannon

It’s true. If Miami is ever destined to become a world-class city, characterized by great public spaces and livable streets, it must amend its traditional parking philosophies. While it’s traffic congestion that always ranks at the top of concerns for planners and residents alike, it’s vehicle storage that shapes urban life as much if not more than movement through space.

The important thing here is education. Most Miamians and South Floridians have preconceived notions about parking that are totally backwards. If we ever want to move in a new direction, we must not be afraid to educate others in our community that may not understand some of the counterintuitive principles of urban parking supply.

To better understand this topic, I highly recommend reading People, Parking, and Cities, by UCLA urban planning professor and renowned parking scholar, Donald Shoup. If you still want to know more, then I recommend The High Cost of Free Parking, by Shoup.

photo courtesy of www.miamiinvest.com

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6 Responses to Planning Miami Around People and Not Cars

  1. Anonymous says:

    Current owners of lots and buildings with parking downtown should highly encourage this type of building. As it would allow them to jack up rates in the Downtown area and would increase profits exponentially in the future.
    This is also great for people who love to ride bikes and public transit.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I wish there was no private parking in downtown and just a few regulated public parking garages scattered around. Enough with the parking in downtown, we have so much, it’s disgusting!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I wish miami will get more lofts and nice tall rental apartment buildings with no parking with real mom an pop store on the bottom. do you think is posible to build modern like brownstones in miami with little cafe on the corners?that would be cool


  4. Anonymous says:

    Some parts of Washington Ave on South Beach have just that. Well the Miami Equivalent of a brownstone/townhouse/rowhouse. I’m sure if Miami Beach can have it then Miami can… but it’s unlikely in the CBD. It’s more likely in Park West, the art district, and near the Biscayne Blvd corridor north of downtown where the density is slightly less and mostly residential. CBD is very high density Res and Commercial.

    Still someone would need to purchase almost 2 or 3 whole blocks to do this the right way IMO. And there isn’t much infill in those locations. They would need to tear down parts of overtown and redo them to get this.


  5. JHop says:

    I think I like the idea of downtown residences without car parking, but to really make the city livable the buildings should include parking for bicycles. A bike is so quiet and efficient a means of getting around that builders and the city should do all possible to encourage their use.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Actually, the zoning ordinance for the Brickell Office corridor has limited the amount of parking that can be built with new buildings since Metrorail was completed in 1985.
    The impact of the ordinance has historically been diminished by the availability of surface parking on area vacant lots. Now most of that land has been developed, largely with residential towers that should be a complimentary use to the office inventory. We’ll see soon. Will the condos be filled with office workers who can walk to work or take the people mover or will they be occupied only three or four weeks per year by global jet setters?



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