Too much parking in U.S. cities proving costly

As car ownership rates drop, excess parking seems more wasteful.

August 08, 2018 |

A new study that looks at parking in five U.S. cities—New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Des Moines, and Jackson, Wyoming—quantifies the amount of parking capacity and estimates the cost to communities.

Parking density per acre ranges from about 10 spots in New York to 53.8 in Jackson. The two smaller communities, Des Moines and Jackson, have a lot more parking spots per household—19 and 27 respectively—than the larger, more densely populated cities. By comparison, New York has 0.6 spots per household.

To get a handle on the cost of all that parking, the study includes the cost to replace existing capacity. This cost, when calculated by household, ranges from $6,570 per spot in New York to a whopping $192,138 in Jackson.

“America devotes far too many of its precious resources to parking,” writes Richard Florida in a post at City Lab. He points out that driving seems to be in decline. The share of Seattle households with a car is falling for the first time in at least 40 years, and the percentage of U.S. high school seniors with a driver’s license is down from 85.3% in 1996 to 71.5% in 2015. What’s more, ride-sharing is gaining popularity. Florida argues that some of the space devoted to parking would be better utilized for housing and other uses.

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