Minimum parking to blame for LA’s commercial inefficiency

Thanks to Paul Barter’s Reinventing Parking blog, we came across an article this week that explored how the minimum parking requirements in Los Angeles have had a negative impact on street life and force property owners to use their blocks of land highly inefficiently.

For us the clearest representation of how the minimum parking requirements affect the businesses property were a number of diagrams to designed illustrate this. From Mott Smith’s original article:

A typical parcel of commercial land will be around 50 feet wide (15.24m) by 150 long (45.72m), or 7,500 square feet (just under 700m2) and is traditionally the perfect size for a small businessperson to build a shop and maybe even housing or office space above. Building right up to the front and side property lines would maximise land-use efficiency and pedestrian-friendliness is encouraged.

But onsite parking rules have made this sort of development nearly impossible. In Los Angeles, minimum parking requirements mandate four parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of retail space. Using our example above, the largest store you could build on a typical property would be 3,000 square feet – less than half of what was possible before the parking requirements came into play.

For restaurants, the requirements are often even more stringent. In a city that requires 10 spaces per 1,000 square feet of restaurant, the largest building you could construct on a typical property would be 1,600 square feet – less than 25 percent of the potential build-out area before parking-requirements.

It’s a simple and easy to understand demonstration of why the minimum parking requirements in this instance are highly ineffective in stimulating demand. Paul Barter concludes his summation by answering his own question:

Is this relevant to your country? Yes! Don’t let foolish parking policies destroy your older commercial districts like the United States did!

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