This recent post discussed minimum parking requirements in the context of AC’s draft Unitary Plan and highlighted Generation Zero’s campaign to “Bin the Mins”. The campaign encourages Auckland Council to remove minimum parking requirements from the Unitary Plan altogether.
Our previous post on this topic generated a lot of attention and 184 (occasionally heated) comments.
In light of that interest, I thought it was worth following up on the debate by discussion this talk by Michael Manville, who is a professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, NY. This video shows Professor Manville speaking to the Planning and Economic Development Committee of Ithaca City Council, NY, which has a population of 100,000 at an average density of 2,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (source). By way of comparison, Auckland is approximately 30% more dense (source).
While Professor Manville makes many good points throughout his talk, I thought his opening statement was particularly noteworthy:
“… I have studied parking policy, and minimum parking requirements in particular, for almost ten years and I fully support any effort by the City of Ithaca to abolish them. I think that minimum parking requirements are probably the greatest and longest-standing mistake in American zoning. They are a way to subsidise driving at the expense of new development. Minimum parking requirements have been extensively studied, they are consistently associated with lower population densities, lower housing densities, higher vehicle ownership, and in most cases more congestion. They make it very difficult to re-develop dense areas and are harmful to downtowns. They essentially increase the cost of housing, while reducing the price of driving, which is essentially the opposite of what most local governments would like to do.”
Professor Manville goes on to discuss the distributional/temporal impacts of minimum parking requirements. He notes that applying minimum parking requirements to new developments is intended to help existing drivers (primarily residents) to find a car-park with relative ease. In doing so, however, Professor Manville argues minimum parking requirements reduce the viability (and hence the supply) of new residential/commercial developments, which will tend to disadvantage future residents.
Therein lies the democratic conundrum that we’ve touched on before. That is, how should Auckland Council balance the demands of existing versus future residents? If one is to believe Professor Manville, then you’d have to conclude that the needs of Auckland’s future generations would be better served by abolishing minimum parking requirements.