Charting the number of cars per renter household in five Southern California cities. Image provided by Mott Smith [PDF]
Yesterday Transit Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Move L.A., and the Shared Use Mobility Center, joined forces with two dozen other organizations and businesses to host Live Ride Share
. The conference was billed as the “first to focus on shared mobility in Southern California [and] highlighted the profound changes occurring in transportation around the world and the economic, political and lifestyle ramifications of these developments in SoCal.”
The main focus was on shared-use transportation, ranging from car share, bike share, carpooling, taxis, to ride-hailing companies (Uber, Lyft), and how these interact with the rest of Southern California’s transportation and livability landscape. Speakers included experts from as far as Helsinki and London, to as near as Boyle Heights and Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Next and Streetsblog L.A. were there. We’re not going to try to re-cap in any comprehensive way, but here are some of the noteworthy things we heard:
Sharing Can Reduce Housing Costs, If We Right-Size Parking
Shared-use mobility, like care share and bike share, could dramatically lower rents in new housing by reducing the amount of expensive parking required in new developments. That’s the message Stuart Cohen with TransForm conveyed on Live Ride Share’s panel on integrating shared mobility into land use and housing. He showed the audience comparisons of a theoretical project first with no parking, then with three different parking configurations — podium parking, surface parking, and underground parking — and the impact each of those had on rents. The rents, based on a seven percent return for the developer, went from $800 a month for a one-bedroom to $1,350 a month (Note: an earlier version of this article misstated the rent figures. It has been updated). Dedicated car share services in new developments could mean that, instead of paying for parking to stow private vehicles that sit idle for most of the day, residents could share a pool of cars when they need it.
Unfortunately the city of Los Angeles currently operates under the opposite strategy. In L.A., current zoning requires about 60 percent of renters pay for parking spaces they don’t use. Civic Enterprise co-founder Mott Smith, reiterating points from ULI’s FutureBuild conference last month, pointed out that 19 percent of renters in Los Angeles own no cars and about 48 percent own one car, yet zoning requirements mandate we build almost exclusively for two-car households. The cost of parking construction, of course, gets folded into the rents of even those people who own no cars. Why aren’t we building apartments for those people? Why aren’t 19 percent of new units built with zero parking to reflect the percentage of households who don’t own cars? Why are we making one-car households pay for two parking spaces? With working families forced to flee Los Angeles and California because of skyrocketing rents, it seems misguided that we are expecting them to take on the burden of paying for parking they don’t use.
Over-parking our homes and workplaces comes at more than a financial cost. Executive director of Urban Land Institute Los Angeles Gail Goldberg was on the same panel with Smith and Cohen. She put things in perspective, using San Diego as an example. She said if that city keeps building parking based on current requirements, an increase of 1 million people (and the population will grow, she said) would require 37 square miles of new parking. That’s bigger than some of San Diego County’s smaller northern cities, like Encinitas.
Changes Can Happen Relatively Quickly, But Equity Remains Elusive
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin made two great points that elicited sustained applause from the audience. Bonin, a gay man married to his husband, analogized changes in societal attitudes toward transportation to be similar to those toward gay marriage. Bonin recalled that it was difficult to envision legal gay marriage only a decade ago, but that, building on decades of activism, a younger generation has led dramatic changes in acceptance, leading to widespread legalization. Bonin sees similar rapid change coming to transportation. Read more…