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

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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