Off-street parking requirements [imposed by a city for new developments] and cars…present a symbiotic relationship: the requirements lead to free parking, the free parking leads to more cars and more cars then lead to even higher parking requirements. When 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet [of new building] no longer satisfy the peak demand for free parking, a stronger dose of 4 spaces per 1,000 square feet can alleviate the problem, but not for long because cars increase in numbers to fill the new parking spaces. Every jab of the parking needle relieves the local symptoms, but ultimately worsens the real disease — too much land and capital devoted to parking and cars. Parking requirements are good for motorists in the short run but bad for cities in the long run.
- Donald Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking
Though the bonus only is allowable for up to 20 ft. of building height, it is still terrible, terrible policy to be incentivizing developers to build more parking in the CBD — a place that already has such an incredible oversupply of parking it is disgusting. If this isn’t bad enough, here’s the real nail-in-the-coffin of bad parking policy: the ordinance requires that the new spaces be free to the public during business hours, and offered at market rates during off-peak periods. This is absolutely as backward as it gets.
Too bad that the people’s opinions that matter don’t think so. City Manager (and apparently urban planner wannabe) Pete Hernandez calls this ridiculous new ordinance, “good, sound policy.”
Bayview Market’s developer, Garcia Du-Quesne, also seems to have missed the boat (though he can at least claim bias):
“We strongly feel that it (the ordinance) has a tremendous foresight and reflects good planning…(it) is made for every present or future retail developer.”
Yikes. But this is what we’ve come to expect in Miami/Miami-Dade. People who have no formal urban planning education are making critical errors in policy and project approvals based on hunches, pet theories, and overly simplistic economic policy that will forever damage our quality of life and urban potential.
I’m forwarding a copy of UCLA Urban Planner and world-renowned parking policy scholar Donald Shoup’s People, Parking, and Cities (or click here for the abbreviated version) to the City Manager and all of Miami and Miami-Dade’s commissioners. If you’re reading at home and really want to become an expert of parking policy, I highly recommend Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking.
Both of these pieces will change your opinion about parking forever.
Photo: Google Earth
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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