Parking as a Scarce Resource

In the 2011 book The High Cost of Free Parking Professor Donald Shoup thoughfully walks the reader through the history of parking in the United States into the present situation in which we find ourselves.  Everyone wants a free parking space; but as Professor Shoup explains, there is no such thing as a 'free" parking space.  Parking is a resource which should be treated like any commodity and priced accordingly.

The concept of "dynamic" pricing (ala airline seats and hotel rooms) should be applied to street and off street parking according to Professor Shoup.  He calls this "performance" parking.  He argues that street parking should be high enough to keep one or two curb spaces open during most times.  This will prevent the circling the block syndrome and create efficiencies.  San Francisco has adopted such a model in their SF Park program.  Take a look at their website for details. 

If parking costs rise and become an efficient economic model as opposed to a subsidized one less time will be spent looking for parking and ridership of public transportation will increase, thereby creating better economic benefits for that public resource. 

Professor Shoup advocates for the removal of parking requirements in our new development zoning codes and return meter revenue to the neighborhoods which generate the same.

According to Collier's International 2012 Parking Rate Survey  (a copy of  which can be downloaded by clicking on the link) identifies Cincinnati's parking costs as relatively low as compared to other major metropolitan areas. 

A concertive effort must ne made by city governments, transportation officials and developers to reverse to expectations and effects of "free" parking.

Small Really is the New BIG !

Small fuel effiecient cars are nothing new.  In fact many of the major car manufacturers are now offering a variety of options which achieve 40+ miles per gallon.  However, what we have not seen until now is a highly fuel efficient car which is highly affordable.  Introducing the Elio to be produced in Louisiana by Elio Motors.  This 3 wheel car is expected to achieve 84 miles per gallon and cost under $7,000.  Given the price point and the convincing argument that small cars make great commuters how can the Real Estate Industry encourage the development and use of this segment of transportation ?

Both cities and private parking owners and operators need to reconsider the structures, pricing and parking options for smaller more fuel effiecient transportation vehicles.  Either lower the price for these less-impacting vehicles or raise the price of bigger heavier vehicles to park.  Just like the gasoline tax is essentially a user fee, parking rates can be structured to encourage good behavior and support of lighter, smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.  Parking operators should partner with vehicle manufacturers and municipalities to make such vehicles more common.  What a great way to cross market !!

Value of Walkability

According to walkscore.com a walkable neighborhood has:

1)  A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it's a main street or a public space.

2)  People:  Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently

3)  Mixed income, mixed use:  Affordable housing located near businesses.

4)  Parks and public space:  Plenty of public places to gather and play.

5)  Pedestrian design:  Buildings are close to the street, parking lots relegated to the back.

6)  Schools and workplaces:  Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

7)  Complete streets:  Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

As we wrote previously in our post titled "Trends We Are Watching", car dependency costs dearly and households which eliminate one car can increase their mortgage carry capacity by approximately $100,000. In order to shed a car in a typical two car family, public transportation options must be practical and convenient. Walkable neighborhoods have more density than typical suburbs and are usually closer to the urban core of a city or region. Cottage homes and neighborhoods which are built on in fill sites in mature neighborhoods can bring residents into or retain existing residents as they transition between phases of their lives. Businesses locate where their customers are located. 

 

Check out walkscore.com to see what your project's walk score.