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The Parking Predicament

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When you've got 800 million parking spaces in this country and people still bitch about supply, something's off. Obviously, most of these spaces are not in center cities, and that's where the conflicts occur. As the single biggest land use in the nation, parking drives sprawl more than anything else. Routinely overbuilt for the sake of convenience, it's a scourge that people have just learned to live with. It's near impossible to combat parking in the 'burbs but how about in, say, downtown Chicago, where minimum parking ratios attached to developments distort actual demand? For instance, only 40% of parking spots in the Lakeshore East mega-development are being leased (55% was the expectation). A developer can only apply to build above the maximum (typically 1.1 to 1.5 spaces per unit), not below the minimum. And parking has enormous hidden costs that negatively impact wages, consumer goods, and housing and environmental costs. The message, from the Metropolitan Planning Council's Parking Blog Series, is simple: amend the zoning. [MPC]