Parking costs money.

But the price tag isn’t relegated to the moment you enter a garage or feed a meter. When a developer provides parking space for a condo building or retail space, those prices are manifested in the form of higher rents, steeper prices and lower wages.

San Diego’s general plan, its citywide outline for future growth, embraces this reality.

“Motorists are accustomed to ‘free’ parking at many destinations, but in reality no parking is without cost,” the general plan reads. “The real cost of parking is paid by all of us through higher rents, lower salaries, higher costs of goods and services, or taxes — regardless of how many cars we own or drive.”

Yet, even as the city acknowledges the real cost of parking, it has done little to change parking regulation policies.

The community level is where residents are left to confront the conflicts of reduced parking. That’s when translating the city’s broad goal to create a market where residents pay for the parking they use into actual policies gets tough.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Doing the Minimum

Developers have to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for each structure they build.

Those minimums are based each property’s existing zoning.

City requirements call for 1.25 spots for a small apartment, two spots for a single-family home, one for every 300 square feet of retail space, up to five spots for 1,000 square feet of office space and up to 15 spaces for every 1,000 square feet of restaurant space.

Suggested rates for sustainable development call for much less parking overall. National standards suggest building one space per residential unit in an urban area, regardless of the size of the unit, and 1.2 spaces in a suburban area. A regional study recommended 1.25 spaces per unit overall for the San Diego region. Those same national standards call for half as much parking for office buildings than the city currently requires.

Current citywide standards mean the parking requirement for a single-family home are the same whether the house is in Golden Hill or Rancho Bernardo, though residents and visitors in those neighborhoods have differing levels of car dependence.

City planners have given nods to the differences between neighborhoods with exceptions. For instance, new developments in areas well-served by public transit have fewer parking requirements.

“Carmel Valley is not North Park — (the) dynamic, mentality and lifestyle for driving is entirely different,” said Roger Lewis, an area developer who sits on the city’s parking board.

But the accessibility of public transit isn’t fixed; it’s dependent on budget decisions made by the Metropolitan Transit System, an independent public agency. So if the city says an urban neighborhood doesn’t have adequate transit options, the neighborhood’s requirements revert to requiring more parking spaces.

Also, the City Council last year approved a measure to reduce parking requirements on affordable housing projects, an attempt to further reduce the cost of those units without requiring government subsidies.

Elyse Lowe, executive director of Move San Diego, a sustainable development advocacy group, said just getting the affordable housing reduction approved took six years, and required an extensive study demonstrating a smaller demand for parking from affordable housing residents.

“We have a long way to go,” she said.

Lowe would prefer a system that imposed a parking maximum.

A recent study confirmed a common-sense notion of the effect of removing parking minimums altogether.

The study from UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies found when cities get rid of parking requirements, developers build more housing and less parking. Basically: The result of parking minimums is more parking spaces than the market demands, and less housing than developers would otherwise build.

Community Opposition

Overcoming community opposition to parking reductions isn’t as simple as pointing to an academic study saying it’s a good idea.

“Communities want high-quality transit, and want those transit options in place before they make concessions to reduce parking,” Lowe said. “So community members, and rightfully so, don’t want the conflict of reduced parking, and we often can’t afford people the opportunity to live without a car, because the rest of our land use policy doesn’t support it.”

That presents a Catch-22 for planners: Parking scarcity caused by reduced requirements increases the demand for alternative modes of transportation, but communities want those alternatives in place before agreeing to reduce parking.

But even if communities would let planners implement regulations that cut down on automobile reliance, San Diego remains a car-centric city.

Eric Naslund, a local architect and chairman of the San Diego Planning Commission, doesn’t think the gap between the actual market for parking and current requirements is too wide.

“I think in a nutshell we provide too much parking,” he said. “We’ve built a city that’s too focused on automobile transportation. The general plan imagines something much better: an integrated city that provides choices. But presently I think our access to automobiles, and the way we accommodate them, remains the preponderate view here.”

A La Carte Parking

Conversations on parking regulations are quickly turning to the idea of unbundling the price of parking from other services.

“This system of ‘bundling’ parking costs with other goods and services lowers the out-of-pocket expenses of driving and makes other types of travel seem expensive by comparison,” the general plan says.

In a study arguing for policies that would unbundle parking costs, Mike Bullock, of San Diego’s chapter of the Sierra Club, isolated the cost of different types of parking spaces.

On a surface lot zoned for mixed-use development, a single space costs $10,000. In an above-ground parking garage, one space costs between $20,000 and $40,000. The cost of a space in an underground parking garage is estimated at between $60,000 and $90,000.

Those costs are paid up front by developers, who pass the costs to home buyers, renters or tenants.

For office tenants, that means paying increased rent so employees can park. For retail tenants, it means recouping the elevated rent through higher-priced products.

Unbundling the cost of parking could take many forms: renting or selling parking spaces individually, rather than including them in the price of real estate; increasing shared parking, where multiple users take advantage of spaces at different times (say, an office building during the day, and nearby bars at night); or having employers pay non-driving workers the amount it would otherwise cost for the employee to park.

“The whole idea of unbundling parking — so you can still provide it, but people should pay extra for it — is an underutilized idea, and one that makes housing and other things more affordable without the government having to subsidize it,” Lowe said. “That’s the big deal and I think that’ll be the next strategy we see.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated specific parking restrictions were implemented through community plans. That is incorrect. Parking requirements are handled entirely through the city’s land development code.

Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.

    This article relates to: Land Use, Mayoral Election Issues 2014, Neighborhood Growth, News, Share, Streets and Sidewalks

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

    69 comments
    EamonJohnston
    EamonJohnston

    @andy_keatts thanks for sharing that. I like that unbundling idea! Similarly, what about paid parking in the public lots near Belmont Park?

    EamonJohnston
    EamonJohnston

    @andy_keatts that area could use some beautification. And I can't imagine a modest fee would keep people from going to Mission Beach

    paul jamason
    paul jamason

    Jim Jones commented: "this quasi-religous rhetoric that biking and public transportation can make a dent in car use". As a devout follower of this religion, I say hallelujah to the headline below. And before you say "well, that's just in Vancouver", Portland has seen similar results after improving cycling infrastructure.Vancouver: Driving Drops ... again - http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/vancouver-driving-drops-again/While the news coverage concentrated on the issues related to the Adanac Bikeway at Union Street (as usual, framed as cars versus bikes), the City of Vancouver's May 30th staff report on Active Transportation contained a piece of remarkable data: Fro...

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Actually Paul, if you read the report, car trips increased by over 11K, what the report does is take the larger 19k increase in bike trips and use that to make it seem like car trips decreased, which is spin and deception rather than reality. Even more damning to idea that these expensive bike lanes have cut into car use is in the reports purpose of trips. Work related trips and shopping trips decreased, but trips by car still increased. There was a large increase in leisure trips, so expensive bike lanes mean more people ride bikes as a hobby, but as the report shows, it has no reduction in car travel, in fact it causes an increase if you want to make the illogical leap of cause and effect here. So thanks fior showing I am once again correct, and that bikers are seeing Jesus in toast with their quasi religious spin here.

    John Stechschulte
    John Stechschulte

    Sorry, Jim, you're wrong. http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/extraordinary-facts-2010-downtown-traffic-volumes-1965/ Overall transportation increased from 2008 to 2011 simply because of the recovering economy--more people have jobs, so more people are commuting. The first study's assessment of increasing bicycle mode share and decreasing automobile mode share is accurate. This second study clearly demonstrates that fewer cars enter and leave downtown Vancouver now than have at any time since ~1965.Extraordinary Fact: 2010 downtown traffic volumes = 1965http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/extraordinary-facts-2010-downtown-traffic-volumes-1965/City transportation engineer Steve Brown found a graph from a 1976 report that shows the number of vehicles entering and leaving downtown for 1960 and 1976. When I plot our current volumes on this, it is slightly higher than 1960 and lower than 1976.

    paul jamason
    paul jamason subscribermember

    Jim Jones commented: "this quasi-religous rhetoric that biking and public transportation can make a dent in car use". As a devout follower of this religion, I say hallelujah to the headline below. And before you say "well, that's just in Vancouver", Portland has seen similar results after improving cycling infrastructure.Vancouver: Driving Drops ... again - http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/vancouver-driving-drops-again/While the news coverage concentrated on the issues related to the Adanac Bikeway at Union Street (as usual, framed as cars versus bikes), the City of Vancouver's May 30th staff report on Active Transportation contained a piece of remarkable data: Fro...

    John Stechschulte
    John Stechschulte subscriber

    Sorry, Jim, you're wrong. http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/extraordinary-facts-2010-downtown-traffic-volumes-1965/ Overall transportation increased from 2008 to 2011 simply because of the recovering economy--more people have jobs, so more people are commuting. The first study's assessment of increasing bicycle mode share and decreasing automobile mode share is accurate. This second study clearly demonstrates that fewer cars enter and leave downtown Vancouver now than have at any time since ~1965.Extraordinary Fact: 2010 downtown traffic volumes = 1965http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/extraordinary-facts-2010-downtown-traffic-volumes-1965/City transportation engineer Steve Brown found a graph from a 1976 report that shows the number of vehicles entering and leaving downtown for 1960 and 1976. When I plot our current volumes on this, it is slightly higher than 1960 and lower than 1976.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Actually Paul, if you read the report, car trips increased by over 11K, what the report does is take the larger 19k increase in bike trips and use that to make it seem like car trips decreased, which is spin and deception rather than reality. Even more damning to idea that these expensive bike lanes have cut into car use is in the reports purpose of trips. Work related trips and shopping trips decreased, but trips by car still increased. There was a large increase in leisure trips, so expensive bike lanes mean more people ride bikes as a hobby, but as the report shows, it has no reduction in car travel, in fact it causes an increase if you want to make the illogical leap of cause and effect here. So thanks fior showing I am once again correct, and that bikers are seeing Jesus in toast with their quasi religious spin here.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Jeff, you may be on to something there. There are ways that the parking lot could be used more effectively, perhaps as a daily Farmer's Market. And it has a trolley stop, so it doesn't "need" so many parking spaces in the first place.

    Jeff Brazel
    Jeff Brazel

    Interesting thread going here, but I would suggest that one size parking requirements does not fit all, parking is situational. If the focus is on urbanized areas where alternatives to cars are available and relatively convenient, then parking maximums make lots of sense. But in suburban areas without such transportation alternatives the max makes no sense. The alternative to cars has to come first, and that means more than just regional serving rail. The outlying communities of the Bay Area include mixed-use projects clustered in high density around BART stations providing excellent access to the entire region via light rail, plus neighborhood serving shops and services for residents of these communities. We are going to see more of this all over Southern California modeled after the successes up north and in other parts of the world. But attempting to force more or less parking through one size fits all land use regulations does not work, it is situational. Employers with a high concentration of workers in a building wants more parking than required if he can't be located where car alternatives are not convenient. Employers with highly skilled workers wants the best possible options so that there are no limitations for his employees and in one respect that means parking. It is not just housing, business is coupled to the parking equation too. Also residents in urbanized areas often complain when new housing and retail is proposed with low parking rates because they worry that cars parked offsite will clog their neighborhoods. So lots of factors at play.

    Jeff Brazel
    Jeff Brazel subscribermember

    Interesting thread going here, but I would suggest that one size parking requirements does not fit all, parking is situational. If the focus is on urbanized areas where alternatives to cars are available and relatively convenient, then parking maximums make lots of sense. But in suburban areas without such transportation alternatives the max makes no sense. The alternative to cars has to come first, and that means more than just regional serving rail. The outlying communities of the Bay Area include mixed-use projects clustered in high density around BART stations providing excellent access to the entire region via light rail, plus neighborhood serving shops and services for residents of these communities. We are going to see more of this all over Southern California modeled after the successes up north and in other parts of the world. But attempting to force more or less parking through one size fits all land use regulations does not work, it is situational. Employers with a high concentration of workers in a building wants more parking than required if he can't be located where car alternatives are not convenient. Employers with highly skilled workers wants the best possible options so that there are no limitations for his employees and in one respect that means parking. It is not just housing, business is coupled to the parking equation too. Also residents in urbanized areas often complain when new housing and retail is proposed with low parking rates because they worry that cars parked offsite will clog their neighborhoods. So lots of factors at play.

    Andrew Poat
    Andrew Poat

    Living in "density" now (by choice) - and having done so for many years in several cities, I must note that the key issue here is NOT parking ratios - it is the land use around housing. I live at the Uptown in Hillcrest - it would actually take MORE time to DRIVE to the grocery store than it takes me to WALK. That is true for several of my favorite restaurants, coffee shops, gym, dry cleaner, etc. I am sorry to see these discussions become indictments and defenses of developers. That is not the issue. What we really need are good neighborhood land use plans that coordinate density and walkable communities for those of use who want to live that way - and traditional California "suburbs" for those that prefer that model. For the 75% of San Diego households that have no children in them, I think density can be a very attractive model if we build communities - not just housing.

    Andrew Poat
    Andrew Poat subscriber

    Living in "density" now (by choice) - and having done so for many years in several cities, I must note that the key issue here is NOT parking ratios - it is the land use around housing. I live at the Uptown in Hillcrest - it would actually take MORE time to DRIVE to the grocery store than it takes me to WALK. That is true for several of my favorite restaurants, coffee shops, gym, dry cleaner, etc. I am sorry to see these discussions become indictments and defenses of developers. That is not the issue. What we really need are good neighborhood land use plans that coordinate density and walkable communities for those of use who want to live that way - and traditional California "suburbs" for those that prefer that model. For the 75% of San Diego households that have no children in them, I think density can be a very attractive model if we build communities - not just housing.

    Jeff Toister
    Jeff Toister subscriber

    I think Eli Gilbert might be on to something. If we apply Derek Hofmann's argument to Qualcomm Stadium, it appears that their parking lot only needs about 300 spaces instead of the 18,000+ it actually has. When I look at the lot on Google Maps it appears to be nearly empty. http://goo.gl/maps/kPH2W

    Richard Gorin
    Richard Gorin

    Residential parking requirements make sense because the value of a parking space to the tenant is a function of how close the parking space is to her residence. If garage space is unbundled, a free market might settle on a price range within a neighborhood, but if the nearest available space at the time is three blocks away, it will be worth a lot less than a space within the apartment building. To the extent that garage space is not a commodity, a free market will not produce the efficiencies of allocation that Adam Smith promised.

    Richard Gorin
    Richard Gorin subscriber

    Residential parking requirements make sense because the value of a parking space to the tenant is a function of how close the parking space is to her residence. If garage space is unbundled, a free market might settle on a price range within a neighborhood, but if the nearest available space at the time is three blocks away, it will be worth a lot less than a space within the apartment building. To the extent that garage space is not a commodity, a free market will not produce the efficiencies of allocation that Adam Smith promised.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Eli, I've provided 8 undoctored satellite photos that show that the lot is usually mostly empty during daylight hours, at least during the times the photos were taken. The only way to get better, more representative data is to conduct hourly audits of the parking lot for an entire week. In any case, even a single photo showing the parking lot only partially utilized is proof that it has spare capacity.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    It's true, free parking induces driving. (See the Streetsblog link I've provided below.) And if free parking induces driving, then free parking at bars induces the bar's customers (who usually drink, after all, it's a bar) to drive. Bing Maps provides four more data points: 10%, 75%, 15%, 10%. This brings the average utilization down to 35%. And I'm not even counting the spaces behind the theater that face the freeway. That would bring average utilization down to around 25%. Maybe you, like most people, tend to visit during the most popular time periods. It's understandable that the "selection bias" (see below) would lead you to believe that the parking lot is full most of the time. Or maybe you always try to park right next to the theater in the highest-demand parking spaces and ignore the spaces closer to Westview Parkway and the ones in back of the theater. Perhaps a more rigorous audit is in order, but I still think you'd still find that average utilization is well below 50% during the hours of 8am and 10pm.Streetsblog New York City - http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/10/15/study-city-residential-parking-requirements-lead-to-more-driving/The New York City Department of City Planning is encouraging people to drive to work. Maybe not officially, but the agency's minimum residential parking requirements are a big inducement to car commute.Selection bias - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_biasSelection bias is a statistical bias in which there is an error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in a scientific study. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect. The phrase "selection bias" most often refers to the distor...

    Jim Abbott
    Jim Abbott subscribermember

    We will know that the City of San Diego is serious about parking when they install meters in La Jolla. Until then, not so much.

    Jim Abbott
    Jim Abbott

    We will know that the City of San Diego is serious about parking when they install meters in La Jolla. Until then, not so much.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    Most of the parking lots in the city are way overbuilt. Take for example the parking lot at the Edwards Mira Mesa. If you zoom in on Google Maps enough to get the 45 degree view, you'll be presented with four different photos (rotate the compass ring to see them all). In the first photo, the parking lot is about 75% full. In the second photo, 0%. In the third photo, 75%. In the fourth photo, about 20%. Based on this unofficial audit, the daily occupancy rate is only about 40-45%. A good rule of thumb is that a parking lot should stay about 85% full all the time, so this parking lot is about twice as large as it needs to be in order to serve all its daily customers. There are times when this particular parking lot gets completely full, causing traffic problems, but the city's solution of forcing the developer to build the parking lot so massive that it never gets completely full is exactly the kind of heavy-handed authoritarianism that Americans normally despise. And the worst thing is, the city sends a mixed message about drinking and driving by forcing alcohol-oriented establishments to overbuild their parking lots to make it as easy as possible for their customers to drive there, drink, and drive home. There's a solution to parking shortages that doesn't require adding supply. Recall from Economics 101 that a shortage occurs when demand for something at a specific price exceeds supply of that something at that price. As a demand curve will show you, you can achieve an equilibrium between supply and demand by raising and lowering the price. A few people would object to paying 25 cents an hour for parking during the busy periods (lunch and dinner and on the weekends), so this would effectively flatten demand for the parking lot at rush hour, provide an incentive to visit during quieter periods, provide a revenue source for beautification or other projects, and reduce the strip mall's burden on surrounding streets. As UCLA's Professor Donald Shoup argues, we have our priorities completely backwards when we think people should pay market rates to live in a neighborhood but the car should live rent-free.Demand curve - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_curveIn economics, the demand curve is the graph depicting the relationship between the price of a certain commodity and the amount of it that consumers are willing and able to purchase at that given price. It is a graphic representation of a demand sched...Dr. Shoup: Parking Guru! - http://www.streetfilms.org/dr-shoup-parking-guru/World-regarded as an expert on parking policy, UCLA Urban Planning Professor Dr. Donald Shoup is the author of The High Cost of Free Parking, a publication so popular among scholars and devotees that he attracts groupies known as Shoupistas at book s...

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis

    So just to be clear, you WANT the government to impose this regulation?

    tarfu7
    tarfu7

    Jim, you didn't really answer Scott's question. But what you've written certainly implies that you DO support minimum parking requirements, even though they are government regulation that stifle and distort free-market forces. So - do you support parking minimums or not? And if so, how do you reconcile this stance with the very ardent free-market positions that you consistently take on other issues?

    Jeff Toister
    Jeff Toister

    I think Eli Gilbert might be on to something. If we apply Derek Hofmann's argument to Qualcomm Stadium, it appears that their parking lot only needs about 300 spaces instead of the 18,000+ it actually has. When I look at the lot on Google Maps it appears to be nearly empty. http://goo.gl/maps/kPH2W

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Really? I would say that private developers simply pass the cost on to consumers who are the end customer and they are the ones being tread upon, especially when the system acts as a barrier to competition, but whatever floats your boat Andrew.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts

    Private developers are being tread all over by the social engineering of government bureaucrats, Jim!

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    What question of Scotts did I not answer? As far as parking requirements, I already said I don't care about them. In a free market only an idiotic builder would build housing with no parking. They would be devaluing their product. The idea that housing development is largely a free market except for parking requirements is sort of funny though.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Again, I don't care about government imposed parking spot counts. I can't answer it any plainer than that. Andrew, the idea that these regulations "stifle and distort free-market forces" certainly implies that if they are removed the free market forces will then be un-stifled and undistorted, which is silly to say the least. Am I for free market principals? I think we all know I am. Do I think these parking space regulations are important and impactful enough to be a major issue? Figure that one out for yourself, you're a bright guy.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts

    Who has suggested housing development is a free market except for parking requirements?

    tarfu7
    tarfu7

    Scott's question was about parking minimums: "So just to be clear, you WANT the government to impose this regulation?" Your answer to me just now was: "I don't care about them. In a free market only an idiotic builder would build housing with no parking." So... that means you are AGAINST minimum parking requirements? It's a pretty direct question, but you keep avoiding a direct answer.

    Eli Gilbert
    Eli Gilbert

    Derek, I cant reply directly to your post so I will right here. I appreciate your posting links to Wikipedia to explain what you believe are intellectual concepts most people will not grasp. Truth is however, I, and many of the VOSD readers know what selection bias is. I have been a longtime visitor to this parking lot at ALL times of the day since 2000. From breakfast, to pre-lunchtime, to lunchtime rush, to afternoon, to early evening and even late evening for dining and at all times on the weekend. Face it, your google view research is absolutely silly and not at all representative of true usage statistics of this lot. Question is, do YOU understand selection bias or unrepresentative set? And to correlate a study on one of the most urbanized locations in America (New York City) of all places to the suburbanized and expansive San Diego is utter nonsense. Cars are a requirement for all but a small percentage of San Diegans due to the location of housing, workplaces, retail, and other amenities. Tell me, do you drive a car and if so, where do you park?

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    Jeff, you may be on to something there. There are ways that the parking lot could be used more effectively, perhaps as a daily Farmer's Market. And it has a trolley stop, so it doesn't "need" so many parking spaces in the first place.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    Eli, I've provided 8 undoctored satellite photos that show that the lot is usually mostly empty during daylight hours, at least during the times the photos were taken. The only way to get better, more representative data is to conduct hourly audits of the parking lot for an entire week. In any case, even a single photo showing the parking lot only partially utilized is proof that it has spare capacity.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts

    Are you not at all swayed by empirical evidence that when parking requirements are removed, developers build less parking? Said another way: if "builders build what sells," then what concern would you have with a decision to remove government requirements? If the market demands auto travel, and if walking, biking and transit-based options are desired only by the ideologically inclined, then what's the problem?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Andrew, the only problem was what I addressed, this quasi-religous rhetoric that biking and public transportation can make a dent in car use, and that parking is some massive subsidized drain. We aren't Hong Kong. The idea that inadequate parking is going to result in a boom in public transportation is not well founded, it will result in efforts to manage and increase parking down the road is all. I don't care if developers build adequate parking up front or not, successful people buy houses with garages or lofts with parking space, and a loft or house with no parking gets the city less in property tax than one that has parking. It fixes itself.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    No Scott, I'm just making the point that cars add a lot to the economy and generally pay far more than they return when all the factors are taken into account. The demand for public transportation that removing parking brings is insignificant, the offload to bikes is insignificant. These are more religion than solid logistics. We live in a car based society, and for good reason, the automobile has brought massive economic growth, freedom of mobility, and improvements to quality of life unprecedented in human history. Of course some want to return us to small villages and smaller lives based on their own fears or religion, but really all these people are is an inconvenience, a few half empty buses, a bunch of 3/4 empty bike lanes are a waste of resources, but a minor one. Builders build what sells. Lack of parking doesn't sell, all it does is create an incentive for the builder to turn some other structure into a parking lot later on. It really doesn't matter how you slice that pie, the people driving to work everyday will see it done, and the government needs those people because they are paying the taxes that subsidize the bike and bus riders. In the end it doesn't matter, it's noise and a distraction, taxes are already close to max and cars are not going anywhere.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis

    This is a story about requiring parking spots for building projects. As Keatts said, when the parking requirement is removed, developers build less parking.

    Sam Ollinger
    Sam Ollinger

    We live in a car-based society because specific policies and funding have made it so - it was a specific "market intervention". "Free market" economics do not exist in a vaccum, policies and politics make things seem like it is the basis of a free market. Former Caltrans head honcho Jake Dekema decreed that we would have a freeway network that has been mostly built out (using public dollars without the sort of public engagement process that SANDAG is attempting to do with their Regional Plan today). Auto transportation wasn't built using a demand model, it was implemented largely on the basis of a supply model (complete with advocacy, lobbying efforts, subsidization, etc). At this stage of the game, transportation models for any mode besides the car now have to be justified using a demand model instead of a critical evaluation on what is best for our society given limited dollars. Truth of the matter is, San Diego is losing out big time with other cities that are enabling transportation options for their citizens now (not in some far flung future) [http://www.streetfilms.org/meet-mayor-greg-ballard-making-bicycling-a-priority-in-indianapolis/]. Unless the city leaders start acting now and putting their critical eye to evaluate exactly how wasteful we are being with our land (not just with wide roads, but building and charging far-below-market-rates for parking in valuable parcels around the city like by the water front) - we're setting ourselves up for another financial catastrophe. We have million dollar properties by the ocean and around our bays, but the parking spots that are alongside these properties are not evaluated like we do commercial and residential property - why is that? If city officials aren't licking their lips and having their eyes light up with dollar signs with the prospect of developing the parking lots around the airport, the bay, or even by the zoo - then something is seriously wrong with them.GOP Mayor Greg Ballard: Making Bicycling a Priority in Indianapolis - http://www.streetfilms.org/meet-mayor-greg-ballard-making-bicycling-a-priority-in-indianapolis/Across the nation, many big-city mayors of both political parties are embracing bikes and livable streets. As you'll see, Indianapolis' Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, believes that making city cycling safer and more enjoyable will attract young pe...

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    Because of diminishing returns, each additional car adds less to the economy than the previous car, and therefore it's not at all clear that cars are a net benefit to the economy.Diminishing returns - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminishing_returnsIn economics, diminishing returns (also called diminishing marginal returns) is the decrease in the marginal (per-unit) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is increased, while the amounts of all other factors...

    Sam Ollinger
    Sam Ollinger

    In South Dakota, "the state legislature changed its DUI statute, specifically exempting cyclists (and equestrians) from the state’s DUI laws." . I find it incredibly appalling that every bar in this entire city has a parking lot attached to it and yet we simultaneously promotes these half hearted little PSAs (with occasional crackdowns on DUI) to not drink and drive. If the easiest way to get to a bar and back is by car, people will drive. No amount of finger wagging is going to get most people to change their behavior. Policy and good governance should be based on how society can function (with all its quirks) while causing the least amount of harm. People respond to their environment and San Diego's environment has been built to be extremely conducive to driving. I'm just curious on whether the anti-transit/walk/bike people have an answer to the question, how much is enough? How many more parking lots, garages, highways, road widening projects will solve the congestion, lack of parking, dui, collision rate? Is there a limit? Is BUI like DUI? - http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2012/11/30/Is-BUI-like-DUIShould bicycling under the influence (dubbed " BUI" by Bob Mionske) be legal? Should it be illegal? And if it is illegal, what is the proper penalty? These are questions that many jurisdictions have attempted to address. A few days ago, we received a...

    Kelly Abbott
    Kelly Abbott

    If we compare our MTS to other cities it's not such a bad deal. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/02/san-diego-trolley-turns-30-amid-praise-and-higher-/ San Diego Trolley Turns 30 Amid Praise And Higher Expectations - http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/02/san-diego-trolley-turns-30-amid-praise-and-higher-/Audio Aired 9/2/11 Most people believe the San Diego trolley has been a success in serving San Diego. But some say it needs to do better to justify the investment in new lines. - Commuters and San Diego State students are among the people heading wes...

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Let's be clear what this is, a attempt by the minority of public transportation users to take even more money from the car drivers to fund their lifestyle even more than it already is. Cars pay, they pay for themselves, they pay for bike lanes, and they pay for the heavily subsidized money pit that is public transportation. If anything we need to take money out of public transportation and return it to the majority who drive.

    Elyse Lowe
    Elyse Lowe

    Nobody is trying to take away anyone's car, or right to drive. the questions is, where do we go from here? How best to accommodate future growth, and give people more choices in our existing urban areas. Many of us drive cars regularly because we have to. This is about making transportation choices more accessible to those who wish to get around in other methods that have fewer environmental impacts, improve quality of life and contribute to economic prosperity - all things for everyone's benefit. All of the pieces of the transportation system are valuable, and removing false incentives to support solo driving is at the core solutions to expanding mobility alternatives. As far as ROI, MoveSD did a study that shows the less you drive, the more discretionary money you have to return to the LOCAL economy. There is an economic return associated with people who don't have to drive all the time. And their discretionary dollars stay here, at shops, restaurants, etc- not spent on expenses to out of state insurers and oil companies that don't have local impact. http://www.movesandiego.org/users/myteam32019/Media63.pdf

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    It's easy to come to the conclusion that cars pay for themselves when you ignore the TransNet sales tax that's needed from non-drivers to pay for freeways, and when you ignore the negative externality of air pollution that costs up to $1,600 per person annually (see the dirty air study at the link I've provided below). The fact is, forcing property owners to overbuild their parking lots is an assault on freedom, on property rights. Private ownership coupled with public control of the means of production is just a step away from Socialism. Justifying the loss of freedom by saying it's necessary to prevent traffic problems, ignores the free-market solution of allowing prices to rise and fall freely in response to supply and demand. If you believe freedom is a good thing, then you must be in favor of removing the minimum parking requirements from our zoning laws and allowing the free market to solve the Economic Problem.Study: Dirty Air Kills More in Calif. Than Car Crashes - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,451207,00.htmlLowering air pollution in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley would save more lives annually than ending all motor vehicle fatalities in the two regions, according to a new study.Economic problem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_problemThe economic problem, sometimes called the basic, central or fundamental economic problem, is one of the fundamental economic theories in the operation of any economy. It asserts that there is scarcity, or that the finite resources available are insu...

    Eli Gilbert
    Eli Gilbert

    Encouraging drinking and driving because a bar has a parking lot. WOW that is a stretch. And I hardly think the '4-pictures-from-google-earth' research methodology you employed to weigh in on the Edwards Mira Mesa complex's parking use is terribly rigorous. To the contrary, that lot is nearly always FULL every single time I have been there over the last ~15 years at nearly all times of the day (which is also not very rigorous but slightly more so than looking at satellite fly-overs). I would contend it's one of the highest utilized parking lots, along with other mall lots, in the County.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    It's true, free parking induces driving. (See the Streetsblog link I've provided below.) And if free parking induces driving, then free parking at bars induces the bar's customers (who usually drink, after all, it's a bar) to drive. Bing Maps provides four more data points: 10%, 75%, 15%, 10%. This brings the average utilization down to 35%. And I'm not even counting the spaces behind the theater that face the freeway. That would bring average utilization down to around 25%. Maybe you, like most people, tend to visit during the most popular time periods. It's understandable that the "selection bias" (see below) would lead you to believe that the parking lot is full most of the time. Or maybe you always try to park right next to the theater in the highest-demand parking spaces and ignore the spaces closer to Westview Parkway and the ones in back of the theater. Perhaps a more rigorous audit is in order, but I still think you'd still find that average utilization is well below 50% during the hours of 8am and 10pm.Streetsblog New York City - http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/10/15/study-city-residential-parking-requirements-lead-to-more-driving/The New York City Department of City Planning is encouraging people to drive to work. Maybe not officially, but the agency's minimum residential parking requirements are a big inducement to car commute.Selection bias - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_biasSelection bias is a statistical bias in which there is an error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in a scientific study. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect. The phrase "selection bias" most often refers to the distor...

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Most of the parking lots in the city are way overbuilt. Take for example the parking lot at the Edwards Mira Mesa. If you zoom in on Google Maps enough to get the 45 degree view, you'll be presented with four different photos (rotate the compass ring to see them all). In the first photo, the parking lot is about 75% full. In the second photo, 0%. In the third photo, 75%. In the fourth photo, about 20%. Based on this unofficial audit, the daily occupancy rate is only about 40-45%. A good rule of thumb is that a parking lot should stay about 85% full all the time, so this parking lot is about twice as large as it needs to be in order to serve all its daily customers. There are times when this particular parking lot gets completely full, causing traffic problems, but the city's solution of forcing the developer to build the parking lot so massive that it never gets completely full is exactly the kind of heavy-handed authoritarianism that Americans normally despise. And the worst thing is, the city sends a mixed message about drinking and driving by forcing alcohol-oriented establishments to overbuild their parking lots to make it as easy as possible for their customers to drive there, drink, and drive home. There's a solution to parking shortages that doesn't require adding supply. Recall from Economics 101 that a shortage occurs when demand for something at a specific price exceeds supply of that something at that price. As a demand curve will show you, you can achieve an equilibrium between supply and demand by raising and lowering the price. A few people would object to paying 25 cents an hour for parking during the busy periods (lunch and dinner and on the weekends), so this would effectively flatten demand for the parking lot at rush hour, provide an incentive to visit during quieter periods, provide a revenue source for beautification or other projects, and reduce the strip mall's burden on surrounding streets. As UCLA's Professor Donald Shoup argues, we have our priorities completely backwards when we think people should pay market rates to live in a neighborhood but the car should live rent-free.Demand curve - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_curveIn economics, the demand curve is the graph depicting the relationship between the price of a certain commodity and the amount of it that consumers are willing and able to purchase at that given price. It is a graphic representation of a demand sched...Dr. Shoup: Parking Guru! - http://www.streetfilms.org/dr-shoup-parking-guru/World-regarded as an expert on parking policy, UCLA Urban Planning Professor Dr. Donald Shoup is the author of The High Cost of Free Parking, a publication so popular among scholars and devotees that he attracts groupies known as Shoupistas at book s...

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis administrator

    This is a story about requiring parking spots for building projects. As Keatts said, when the parking requirement is removed, developers build less parking.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts author

    Private developers are being tread all over by the social engineering of government bureaucrats, Jim!

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis administrator

    So just to be clear, you WANT the government to impose this regulation?

    tarfu7
    tarfu7 subscribermember

    Jim, you didn't really answer Scott's question. But what you've written certainly implies that you DO support minimum parking requirements, even though they are government regulation that stifle and distort free-market forces. So - do you support parking minimums or not? And if so, how do you reconcile this stance with the very ardent free-market positions that you consistently take on other issues?

    tarfu7
    tarfu7 subscribermember

    Scott's question was about parking minimums: "So just to be clear, you WANT the government to impose this regulation?" Your answer to me just now was: "I don't care about them. In a free market only an idiotic builder would build housing with no parking." So... that means you are AGAINST minimum parking requirements? It's a pretty direct question, but you keep avoiding a direct answer.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Really? I would say that private developers simply pass the cost on to consumers who are the end customer and they are the ones being tread upon, especially when the system acts as a barrier to competition, but whatever floats your boat Andrew.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    What question of Scotts did I not answer? As far as parking requirements, I already said I don't care about them. In a free market only an idiotic builder would build housing with no parking. They would be devaluing their product. The idea that housing development is largely a free market except for parking requirements is sort of funny though.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Again, I don't care about government imposed parking spot counts. I can't answer it any plainer than that. Andrew, the idea that these regulations "stifle and distort free-market forces" certainly implies that if they are removed the free market forces will then be un-stifled and undistorted, which is silly to say the least. Am I for free market principals? I think we all know I am. Do I think these parking space regulations are important and impactful enough to be a major issue? Figure that one out for yourself, you're a bright guy.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts author

    Who has suggested housing development is a free market except for parking requirements?

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts author

    Are you not at all swayed by empirical evidence that when parking requirements are removed, developers build less parking? Said another way: if "builders build what sells," then what concern would you have with a decision to remove government requirements? If the market demands auto travel, and if walking, biking and transit-based options are desired only by the ideologically inclined, then what's the problem?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Andrew, the only problem was what I addressed, this quasi-religous rhetoric that biking and public transportation can make a dent in car use, and that parking is some massive subsidized drain. We aren't Hong Kong. The idea that inadequate parking is going to result in a boom in public transportation is not well founded, it will result in efforts to manage and increase parking down the road is all. I don't care if developers build adequate parking up front or not, successful people buy houses with garages or lofts with parking space, and a loft or house with no parking gets the city less in property tax than one that has parking. It fixes itself.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    No Scott, I'm just making the point that cars add a lot to the economy and generally pay far more than they return when all the factors are taken into account. The demand for public transportation that removing parking brings is insignificant, the offload to bikes is insignificant. These are more religion than solid logistics. We live in a car based society, and for good reason, the automobile has brought massive economic growth, freedom of mobility, and improvements to quality of life unprecedented in human history. Of course some want to return us to small villages and smaller lives based on their own fears or religion, but really all these people are is an inconvenience, a few half empty buses, a bunch of 3/4 empty bike lanes are a waste of resources, but a minor one. Builders build what sells. Lack of parking doesn't sell, all it does is create an incentive for the builder to turn some other structure into a parking lot later on. It really doesn't matter how you slice that pie, the people driving to work everyday will see it done, and the government needs those people because they are paying the taxes that subsidize the bike and bus riders. In the end it doesn't matter, it's noise and a distraction, taxes are already close to max and cars are not going anywhere.

    Sam Ollinger
    Sam Ollinger subscriber

    We live in a car-based society because specific policies and funding have made it so - it was a specific "market intervention". "Free market" economics do not exist in a vaccum, policies and politics make things seem like it is the basis of a free market. Former Caltrans head honcho Jake Dekema decreed that we would have a freeway network that has been mostly built out (using public dollars without the sort of public engagement process that SANDAG is attempting to do with their Regional Plan today). Auto transportation wasn't built using a demand model, it was implemented largely on the basis of a supply model (complete with advocacy, lobbying efforts, subsidization, etc). At this stage of the game, transportation models for any mode besides the car now have to be justified using a demand model instead of a critical evaluation on what is best for our society given limited dollars. Truth of the matter is, San Diego is losing out big time with other cities that are enabling transportation options for their citizens now (not in some far flung future) [http://www.streetfilms.org/meet-mayor-greg-ballard-making-bicycling-a-priority-in-indianapolis/]. Unless the city leaders start acting now and putting their critical eye to evaluate exactly how wasteful we are being with our land (not just with wide roads, but building and charging far-below-market-rates for parking in valuable parcels around the city like by the water front) - we're setting ourselves up for another financial catastrophe. We have million dollar properties by the ocean and around our bays, but the parking spots that are alongside these properties are not evaluated like we do commercial and residential property - why is that? If city officials aren't licking their lips and having their eyes light up with dollar signs with the prospect of developing the parking lots around the airport, the bay, or even by the zoo - then something is seriously wrong with them.GOP Mayor Greg Ballard: Making Bicycling a Priority in Indianapolis - http://www.streetfilms.org/meet-mayor-greg-ballard-making-bicycling-a-priority-in-indianapolis/Across the nation, many big-city mayors of both political parties are embracing bikes and livable streets. As you'll see, Indianapolis' Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, believes that making city cycling safer and more enjoyable will attract young pe...

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Because of diminishing returns, each additional car adds less to the economy than the previous car, and therefore it's not at all clear that cars are a net benefit to the economy.Diminishing returns - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminishing_returnsIn economics, diminishing returns (also called diminishing marginal returns) is the decrease in the marginal (per-unit) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is increased, while the amounts of all other factors...

    Sam Ollinger
    Sam Ollinger subscriber

    In South Dakota, "the state legislature changed its DUI statute, specifically exempting cyclists (and equestrians) from the state’s DUI laws." . I find it incredibly appalling that every bar in this entire city has a parking lot attached to it and yet we simultaneously promotes these half hearted little PSAs (with occasional crackdowns on DUI) to not drink and drive. If the easiest way to get to a bar and back is by car, people will drive. No amount of finger wagging is going to get most people to change their behavior. Policy and good governance should be based on how society can function (with all its quirks) while causing the least amount of harm. People respond to their environment and San Diego's environment has been built to be extremely conducive to driving. I'm just curious on whether the anti-transit/walk/bike people have an answer to the question, how much is enough? How many more parking lots, garages, highways, road widening projects will solve the congestion, lack of parking, dui, collision rate? Is there a limit? Is BUI like DUI? - http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2012/11/30/Is-BUI-like-DUIShould bicycling under the influence (dubbed " BUI" by Bob Mionske) be legal? Should it be illegal? And if it is illegal, what is the proper penalty? These are questions that many jurisdictions have attempted to address. A few days ago, we received a...

    Kelly Abbott
    Kelly Abbott contributormember

    If we compare our MTS to other cities it's not such a bad deal. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/02/san-diego-trolley-turns-30-amid-praise-and-higher-/ San Diego Trolley Turns 30 Amid Praise And Higher Expectations - http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/02/san-diego-trolley-turns-30-amid-praise-and-higher-/Audio Aired 9/2/11 Most people believe the San Diego trolley has been a success in serving San Diego. But some say it needs to do better to justify the investment in new lines. - Commuters and San Diego State students are among the people heading wes...

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Let's be clear what this is, a attempt by the minority of public transportation users to take even more money from the car drivers to fund their lifestyle even more than it already is. Cars pay, they pay for themselves, they pay for bike lanes, and they pay for the heavily subsidized money pit that is public transportation. If anything we need to take money out of public transportation and return it to the majority who drive.

    Elyse Lowe
    Elyse Lowe subscribermember

    Nobody is trying to take away anyone's car, or right to drive. the questions is, where do we go from here? How best to accommodate future growth, and give people more choices in our existing urban areas. Many of us drive cars regularly because we have to. This is about making transportation choices more accessible to those who wish to get around in other methods that have fewer environmental impacts, improve quality of life and contribute to economic prosperity - all things for everyone's benefit. All of the pieces of the transportation system are valuable, and removing false incentives to support solo driving is at the core solutions to expanding mobility alternatives. As far as ROI, MoveSD did a study that shows the less you drive, the more discretionary money you have to return to the LOCAL economy. There is an economic return associated with people who don't have to drive all the time. And their discretionary dollars stay here, at shops, restaurants, etc- not spent on expenses to out of state insurers and oil companies that don't have local impact. http://www.movesandiego.org/users/myteam32019/Media63.pdf

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    It's easy to come to the conclusion that cars pay for themselves when you ignore the TransNet sales tax that's needed from non-drivers to pay for freeways, and when you ignore the negative externality of air pollution that costs up to $1,600 per person annually (see the dirty air study at the link I've provided below). The fact is, forcing property owners to overbuild their parking lots is an assault on freedom, on property rights. Private ownership coupled with public control of the means of production is just a step away from Socialism. Justifying the loss of freedom by saying it's necessary to prevent traffic problems, ignores the free-market solution of allowing prices to rise and fall freely in response to supply and demand. If you believe freedom is a good thing, then you must be in favor of removing the minimum parking requirements from our zoning laws and allowing the free market to solve the Economic Problem.Study: Dirty Air Kills More in Calif. Than Car Crashes - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,451207,00.htmlLowering air pollution in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley would save more lives annually than ending all motor vehicle fatalities in the two regions, according to a new study.Economic problem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_problemThe economic problem, sometimes called the basic, central or fundamental economic problem, is one of the fundamental economic theories in the operation of any economy. It asserts that there is scarcity, or that the finite resources available are insu...