Minimum parking requirements for housing and businesses are a city-killer for all kinds of reasons, not least because they make housing more expensive. It’s basically a tax on people who don’t drive that subsidizes parking for people who do.
So it’s very annoying to see Philly Councilmen Bobby Henon and Bill Green trying to strip out a very sensible provision of the pending zoning ordinance that basically just says the city should avoid wasting too much land on parking:
The bill also removes references to limits on the amount of parking that development projects may provide. Councilman Green explained that the parking provision was intended to require a minimum amount of parking to offset the impact of certain developments, but that it didn’t make sense to limit the amount of parking area developers could provide. Specifically, the bill deletes the following provision from the “Purpose” section of the new code’s chapter on parking: “Encourage the efficient use of land by avoiding excessive amounts of land being devoted to parking and thus unavailable for other productive uses.”
As I noted yesterday, Philly’s most valuable asset is its expensive land. The more of this land that’s used for productive purposes, the better off the city’s economy will be.
Parking is not a productive use of expensive land. It produces literally nothing. It’s just empty cars wasting space that could be used instead for activities that create actual economic value. So the goal of city land use policy should be to minimize the amount of expensive land that’s wasted on storing idle vehicles.
The best way to do this would be to eliminate minimum parking requirements and maximum parking requirements, and simply let developers build as much or as little parking as people are willing to pay for.
The city certainly shouldn’t be requiring developers to build more parking than they want to. That makes housing more expensive, and ultimately makes the city poorer by wasting valuable land on a value-subtracting use. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what Bill Green and Bobby Henon want to do.
(Thanks: Jared Brey)