Donald Shoup: Planners Are Versed in Parking Politics, Not Policy

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Un-Shoupian parking policy on display on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue

The Toronto Star gave parking policy maven Donald Shoup some major play earlier this week, running a profile of the UCLA professor excerpted from journalist Tim Falconer’s new book, "Drive." In the piece, we learn why Shoup believes planners are apt to make bad judgments when it comes to the optimum supply of off-street parking:

…planning departments always insist that developers include a
minimum number of parking spots. Shoup doesn’t have much respect for
the ability of urban planners to determine how many spots are
necessary. Since planners don’t learn anything about parking in school,
they learn it on the job, but because parking is so political — NIMBY
neighbours constantly squawk at the thought of anyone parking on their
street — what they really learn is the politics of parking.

Hardly surprising, perhaps, but certainly applicable to New York, where parking minimums have facilitated pedestrian-hostile development, as on Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue. It also raises the question: Even if the city were to muster the political will to adopt Shoupian pricing for on-street parking (following the lead of San Francisco and Washington), would it have the fortitude to address another big part of the equation by reforming zoning regs that require parking in certain residential buildings?

A story in today’s Times about the suspension of alternate-side parking rules in Park Slope shows the warped sense of entitlement such measures would run up against:

“Parking is such a joke in this neighborhood that no matter what they
do, it won’t make a difference,” said Buddy Ferriola, from the deli
Pollio on Fifth Avenue. “You got 20,000 cars and 2,000 parking spaces.”