The Irony of Minimum Parking Requirements

MLewyn's picture

As many people (including me) have written, minimum parking requirements encourage sprawl by requiring "islands of building surounded by seas of parking."  Generally, municipalities trying to end or modify these rules have started with downtowns and worked their way outward.

It seems to be that there is something ironic about this course of action.  The traditional justifications for minimum parking requirements are (1) to prevent people from wasting time cruising for on-street parking spaces and (2) to prevent motorists from parking in front of homes (since the people living in the homes want to park there). 

But in most American "sprawl suburbs", neither of these justifications apply.  There is no crusing in sprawl because there is no on-street parking.  And most suburbanites have garages in sprawl, so even if motorists could park in front of a suburban house they do not inconvenience the occupants.  Thus, minimum parking requirements may be even more irrational in suburbia than they are in neighborhoods closer to downtown.

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