(A letter from Donald Shoup on AB 904 to the American Planning Association can be found after the jump. – DN)
“Donald Shoup is an academic authority on parking and its effects on transportation, land use, cities, the economy, and the environment,” said the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2004 when it inducted Professor Shoup as a Fellow, the highest honor of the American Planning Association (APA). In 2005, The APA published Shoup’s tome, The High Cost of Free Parking, and calls it one of its “most popular and influential titles.”
However it seems the APA’s California Chapter did not consult with Professor Shoup before it sent an email to members urging them to oppose AB 904, an effort to cap parking developers are required to provide at transit oriented developments.
Parking policy requires a delicate balance between the goals of the state and region (reduced vehicle use, increased transit use) and the goals of the municipality (providing convenient parking with new development to mitigate competition for on-street parking spaces). UCLA Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup’s solution has been to charge a sufficient price for publicly-owned on-street parking spaces so as to ensure that one or two spaces will typically be available on each block.
New development, which Shoup says should be free to decide how much off-street parking it will provide, increases the area’s parking demand, which in turn increases the price of both public on-street parking and existing off-street private lots. As the price increases, alternatives to driving such as transit, biking and walking become relatively more attractive. The “invisible hand” of the parking market plays a regulating function that makes non-auto modes more attractive in denser environments, where such modes can be more effective.
Nearly all local governments have taken a different approach, in which they specify the minimum number of off-street parking spaces each new development must provide. Such a policy is designed to reduce or eliminate competition for on-street parking, which can placate existing residents and businesses. However, in many denser built environments parkers prefer a convenient but scarce on-street space to a less-convenient but abundant off-street spaces, and the minimum parking requirements fail to protect incumbent parkers from increased competition.
In many areas the minimum parking requirements far exceed typical demand, leading to areas where parking supply exceeds demand. Though the resulting parking price is zero, the cost of providing parking and the additional automobile travel is borne by everyone: shoppers paying a higher cost of groceries at the store with free parking, children with asthma playing next to roadways suffering from increased automobile travel, and the type-2 diabetes sufferer who’s substituted convenient parking for walking and biking.
Professor Shoup’s sees AB 904 as a “parking disarmament policy” which will let cities allow parking prices near transit to rise without worrying that other cities with free or cheaper parking will steal their visitors. In this letter to Kevin J. Keller, president of the APA’s California Chapter, Shoup discusses his reasoning for supporting the bill and displeasure that the Cal APA would oppose the bill without consulting its membership: