Mountain View’s new apartments in a near-downtown location with an 85 walk score, across the street from Caltrain and light rail at 455 West Evelyn, include all of the parking spaces that the city required.
A piece by Alan Durning of Sightline Institute provides an in-depth analysis of how parking requirements raise baseline rents in new apartment buildings. Even relatively modest off-street parking requirements increases the per-unit cost for the developer by about 50 percent, Durning shows, raising required rents from about $800/month to $1,200/month. Interestingly, this is pretty much in line with what developers are saying. The comments on Durning's piece are revealing. Some react to suggestions that off-street parking requirements should be eliminated as an attack on those who drive, while others point out the spillover effects of providing no on-street parking. The latter point is valid, but there's also a good deal of denial of the externalities resulting from America's ubiquitous off-street parking requirements. In addition to the elimination of affordable housing, parking requirements also have broad negative economic impacts and contribute to global warming.
When cities invest in infrastructure, it’s often the gray stuff like roads and bridges. Or it’s hidden away like water and sewer pipes. Not to say that infrastructure isn’t interesting and vital to a city’s success, but it’s hard to get excited about.
A recent blog from Twin Cities Sidewalks highlights growing evidence that vehicle miles may have peaked. If the right policies are put in place, vehicle miles can go down even as the population and economy rises. The graph dramatically shows the historical trends of vehicle miles traveled in the US and how they have changed in recent years. Young adults, who may set the direction for generations to come, are on a steep downward trajectory. After that graph came out, the Federal Highway Administration reported that only 67 percent of 16-to-24 year olds had driver's licenses in 2011, the lowest level since statistics have been kept. For cities, where more alternative transportation options are available, the trend is potentially stronger: from 2005 to 2009, as the population of Washington, DC, grew by 15,000, car registrations in the District dropped by 15,000, according to Jeff Speck in Walkable City. This adds impetus to getting rid of policies like minimum parking requirements (why turn America into even more of a parking lot than it already is?). Let's, instead, go with the flow and spend more on walking, biking, and mass transit, and less on expanding highway capacity for cars that likely will not be there.