When does a Prius have the same environmental impact as a Hummer? The 95 percent of the time it’s parked.

Most people don’t spend time thinking about parking spaces unless they’re looking for one. But these 9′ by 18′ rectangles of urban real estate have a vast impact on North American communities. They affect the economy, land use patterns, the design of cities and even individual lifestyles.

A small group of urban planners, economists, and community advocates are committed to changing the way Americans think about and plan for parking. Their claim is bold and powerful: minimum parking requirements should be considered one of the foremost contributors to suburban sprawl and the hollowing out of urban cores in the United States (in addition to the usual culprits of white flight, FHA mortgage redlining, and the interstate highway system).

Urban economist Donald Shoup argues that parking requirements are one of the costliest hidden subsidies in US cities today. Shoup, who teaches urban planning at UCLA and authored the recent book, The High Cost of Free Parking, is one of the leaders in the flight to reclaim cities for people, not parking.


By Seth Zeren, read full article here.