Dependency on cars — it’s an ongoing challenge, handcuffs on society. Yet, we continue to load the scale on one side with auto-centric standards that create excessive parking lots covering our urban landscapes. A new study released by Smart Growth America finds that, indeed, there is too much car space from parking lots being built around transit stations. Too many spaces create empty waste on valuable land that could be put to more active use.
“The land near transit stations is a valuable commodity. Hundreds or thousands of people travel to and through these places each day, and decisions about what to do with this land have implications for local economies, transit ridership, residents’ access to opportunity, and overall quality of life for everyone in a community.”
The Washington Post reviewed the study, pointing out: “None of the five transit-oriented developments studied — in Washington, Los Angeles and Oakland, and near Seattle and Denver — generated enough parking to fill even half the number that planning industry standards would have suggested.”
The story — “Cities, suburbs are requiring too much parking near transit stations, study says” — examines the inefficient use of land. In spite of the developments reviewed including fewer parking spaces than those standards recommended, vacant spaces stood out: “Even taking the size down, parking spaces remained empty — between 16 percent and 42 percent empty at peak times.”
Parking lots drive the cost of building up. Thus, parking lots exclude more affordable housing for those who could really benefit from living near transit. They’re also a clear subsidy for cars in most cases. “Requiring developers to build excess parking, particularly relatively pricey garage parking, makes living near transit more expensive and makes such projects less financially viable for developers, the study said. The demand for homes within walking distance of transit, including in suburbs, far outstrips the supply, which makes them less affordable.”
Check out the full Smart Growth America report.