A Lot Less Parking Lots

From the Wall Street Journal: More Developers Kick Parking Lots to the Curb

Bad news for car owners: Developers in more U.S. cities are reducing the amount of parking spaces included in new projects as local authorities seek to encourage the use of mass transit and free up space for parks, housing or other uses.

In San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, architecture and development company Jonathan Segal FAIA ruffled feathers of nearby residents after it revealed plans to build an eight-story, 35-unit apartment complex with no parking spaces. Without the added costs of a garage, the studio units of around 400 square feet apiece would be more affordable, the firm said.


“It’s the future. There’s a strong demand for people who want to rent units that are efficient,” said developer Jonathan Segal, noting that digging underground parking lots for the building would drive up costs and take away space that could be used for more housing.

Each car takes up about 350 square feet of parking space, including access lanes, he said. Without these costs, he estimates rents will be $1,300 to $1,500 a month, barely half that of comparable apartments nearby. …

Researchers in Miami and Los Angeles have found the reduction of parking requirements lowered construction costs significantly and spurred development of homes in areas previously deemed unprofitable. Earlier parking requirements had compelled developers to build fewer units than the total permitted because it was too expensive to build the required parking spaces. …

Even so, developers looking to build fewer parking lots often face pushback from the incumbent residents who fear heightened competition for on-street parking when residents who own cars move in.

And in some cities, the deep-rooted habits of residents are still a big influence on parking. Developer D4 Urban LLC successfully leased mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments adjacent to a rail stop in Denver with a 1:1 ratio of parking space to unit, but noted that post-occupancy surveys show that residents still want ample parking spaces.

“While there is a menu of options for residents—Uber, light rail, bicycle—people still endeavor to own a car to get to the mountains,” said Chris Waggett, chief executive of D4 Urban, adding that future projects with bigger apartments will revert to the more-typical 1:1 parking space to bedroom ratio.

“There is an emotive connection to the car that residents have, but it’s different when you talk to commercial tenants. Commercial-property owners are far more willing to reduce their ratios,” Mr. Waggett said.

Item from Ian: Truck ban in London to protect cyclists

From The Guardian:


Tens of thousands of lorries with poor visibility will be banned from London’s roads within four years to better protect cyclists and pedestrians, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced….

Lorries are involved in more than half the cycling deaths on London’s roads, and more than a fifth of pedestrian deaths, despite making up only 4% of motor traffic.

Khan’s plans, immediately welcomed by cycling groups, will give construction trucks and other HGVs a star-based safety rating from zero to five, based on the amount of vision the driver has.

By January 2020, those with a zero rating – primarily construction trucks with a high cab and big clearance under the wheels – will be banned. By 2024, only trucks rated three stars – “good” – or above will be allowed in the city.

From the next financial year, Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority will not sign any contracts that involve the use of zero-starred trucks.

Khan’s office said there were currently around 35,000 zero-rated trucks operating in London, and that over the past three years they had been involved in about 70% of the cyclist deaths involving HGVs.

Full story here.

Operation Rudy slashes bike theft on Granville Island

From BEST, a good-news story about something you might not have heard of – Operation Rudy:

The broad-based partnership program Operation Rudy, established to cut down bicycle theft on Granville Island, has had stunning results. The multi-faceted program has reduced bike thefts on the Island by 60% over the summer months, with an astounding 80% drop in the month of August alone.

granisleDeveloped by BEST, CMHC – Granville Island, Project 529, Vancouver Police Department, and several Island businesses, Operation Rudy’s key strategies were to provide The Bicycle Valet, free and secure bicycle parking, seven days a week, free registration with Garage 529, improve cyclists’ security habits through information and loaner locks, apprehend bicycle thieves through the VPD Bait Bike program, position more racks in the open to deter thefts, and build awareness on bike theft and proper locking techniques. …

“Granville Island reported a bike theft nearly every day in August of 2015, and this August experienced only one bike theft each week,” says J. Allard of Project 529. “We are thrilled with these results and feel that this represents a real sea change for bicycle security on Granville Island.”

Reclaiming the Seine

An update from Paris, via The Guardian:



Paris mayor heralds ‘reconquest of Seine’ as riverbank traffic banned

Paris city council has approved the banning of all vehicles from the major road running along the right bank of the river Seine in a bitterly contested vote.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed what she called a historic decision that meant the “end of the urban motorway in Paris and the reconquest of the Seine”.

Before it closed earlier this year for the annual Paris Plage city beach project, 43,000 cars a day passed over the stretch of road. It will eventually be replaced by gardens, parks, restaurants and cafes.


The city council insists the closure is “definitive”. However, it still needs the approval of the police authority, which has the final word on traffic matters in the capital. …

Motorist groups vehemently opposed both left and right bank road closures, accusing the city’s socialist administration of a vendetta against drivers.

Housing Solutions II (the “D” Word)


UBC Economist Tom Davidoff has some thoughts about how to deal with housing unaffordability.  His ideas involve increasing density within the vast swaths of Vancouver land that are now zoned for extremely low density.  Plus complex review of real estate taxation, CAC’s and political responsibility for control of land usage.

His ideas presage a political challenge to shift hearts and minds from the entrenched viewpoint that living in a single family home is the inalienable birthright of every person in Canada. Not to mention the simple resistance to change from the status-quo — those now comfortably housed in Vancouver’s old car suburbs.

To my thinking, it’s a better solution than pushing car suburbs onto the ALR.

Davidoff would like to see the province step in to mandate density targets. He suggested municipalities could then hold auctions in which developers could bid to build to those density targets.

Instead of developers contributing a community amenity contribution, which are set by the city and are different for each project, Davidoff proposed the affected community come up with the amount they expect to be compensated for “the economic loss if you allow townhomes, if you allow condos.”

“If we do contributions for density that way, we extract as much wealth as we can from wealthy homeowners and builders, and we give a lot of benefit to locals so they have a reason to accept density.”

Thanks to Jen St. Denis in Metro

In this 33:48 video Prof. Davidoff discusses his ideas in much more breadth and detail. With PowerPoint slides too!!  At 24:30, things get interesting with recommendations on a market-based approach to densification.

Friday Funny: the New Photography


Or, narcissism on the rise.


Thanks to Barbara Kinney, Hillary for America

And thanks to Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer, for the original post, and where one of his commenters said this about the photo:

“This is an excellent example of how photos can be deceptive even without any sort of manipulation. The important context that’s missing from most of the (predictable) discussion about the image is that the picture was taken immediately after HRC said ‘everyone take a selfie,’ after one audience member asked her if it would be OK.”

SFU Urban Studies Fall Speakers Series


SFU Urban Studies Fall 2016 lecture series. All events are FREE, but reservations are required.

October 4, 7 pm: Animals and the City

Room 4800, SFU Vancouver (Segal Building), 500 Granville St.

Speaker: Alexandru Balescu (and respondents)

Why is that so many people are much more likely to accept a radical other in a form of a pet, while rejecting or marginalizing a fellow human being only because she/he may look or act/perform slightly different? What is the parallel between the discourses on stray dogs, matters out of place, and social categories that are deemed marginal or undesirable? Why, to many among us, are stray dogs not acceptable while homelessness is?

Reserve seats


October 21, 7 pm: Book launch for What a City is for: Remaking the Politics of Displacement
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Vancouver (Woodward’s), 149 W. Hastings St.

Speakers: Author Matt Hern (and respondents)

Displacement and dispossessions are convulsing cities across the globe, becoming the dominant urban narratives of our time. In What a City Is For, Hern uses the case of Albina— the one major Black neighbourhood in Portland – as well as similar instances in New Orleans and Vancouver, to investigate gentrification in the twenty-first century. Hern questions the notions of development, private property, and ownership, arguing that home ownership drives inequality. How can we reimagine the city as a post-ownership, post-sovereign space?

Note: This event is full, but there may be a waiting list.

Reserve seats


October 27, 7 pm: Utopianism Panel
Room 7000, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre), 515 W. Hastings St.
Speakers: Frank Cunningham, Meg Holden, Trevor Boddy

A utopian/anti-utopian opposition persists today in virtually all domains of urban theory and practice with nuances and a variety of attempts to supersede it. The Urban Studies Program and the Humanities Institute are organizing a panel to initiate discussion on aspects of utopianism today with specific, but not exclusive, reference to its urban incarnations, including in the Lower Mainland. Themes may include the questions of whether and how utopian thinking informs contemporary theories and practices and, to the extent that it does, whether this is a good thing.

Reserve seats

November 16: Studentification and the impacts of education-led international immigrants
Room 1410, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre), 515 W. Hastings St.
Speakers: Qiyan Wu with respondents
In this talk Dr. Wu will discuss processes of studentification as a new feature and process of gentrification. Dr. Wu’s past work has examined Nanjing, one of China’s largest urban centres, and a process that Dr. Wu calls jiaoyufication. Dr. Wu takes the example of Nanjing and using theories of Bordieu and Smith, among other theorists, stretches his original studies to consider cities with large Chinese immigrant populations, such as Metro Vancouver and Manchester, and new processes of gentrification and displacement that are being instigated by various forms and configurations of studentification.

Reserve seats


November 24, 7 pm: Re-defining the Public in Public Libraries
Room 7000, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre), 515 W. Hastings St.
Speakers: Lisa Freeman

Dr. Lisa Freeman will discuss the changing role of public libraries in the context of urban governance. Public libraries in Canada are increasingly being compared to public spaces for multiple and diverse publics. In her work, Freeman asks how the publicness of the library is performed in the context of austerity measures and municipal governance. This research raises important questions about the role of citizen boards in governing changing public spaces in our cities. Frank Cunningham will respond to Freeman and instigate a discussion with her and the audience.

At the Alley


A few days ago, I dropped by the cleaned-up painted-up alley that runs between Granville & Seymour south of Hastings.  Aside from a few smokers, several short-cutters, photogs, a selfie-snapper, a courier’s car and a garbage truck, the alley was quite empty most of the time.  No long-dwellers except for the plumber’s truck.

My impression is that people are not quite sure yet what to make of it. Certainly, the alley stopped lots of curious passersby on the sidewalks, and attracted a lot of attention from them.  But after a quip and a goggle, off they mostly went.  With a few exceptions — and perhaps those that do enter the alley may, as I did, get a different sense of the space than in the days when the alley was dark, dirty and smelly. It’s possible that wheels will begin to turn as people consider what they’ve experienced and dream up possibilities for using it.

I’m well aware that a single photo (or even two) rarely serves as proof or prediction of anything. Maybe I was there at the wrong time of the wrong day, and the uses that people find will be in the weekend or evenings.  Whatever happens, it’s a remarkable and positive transformation, and I hope for the best.


A solution to overheated housing? In Vancouver?

From The Guardian:


Has Vancouver found the solution to a super-heated housing market?

There is a city which is suffering a worse property bubble than Sydney, whose residents are more priced-out than Londoners, and where there is a greater divide between the housing haves and have-nots than even San Francisco.

That city is Vancouver, and in response to these mounting challenges, the west-coast Canadian metropolis recently imposed an extraordinary new tax on foreign buyers – whose impact is now being watched closely by other cities grappling with bloated property markets.

On 2 August, Vancouver introduced a tax on anyone from outside Canada wanting to buy a home in its super-heated market. In future, city authorities said, if you weren’t Canadian, you would have to pay an extra 15% on the purchase price.

The impact has, by some measures, been more startling than campaigners could have hoped for. The price of the average detached home reportedly slumped by an astonishing 16.7% in August alone to C$1.47m (£856,000), according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Some agents are reporting that the market has gone from red hot to stone cold in a matter of weeks….

Vancouver’s experiment is being closely watched in London. According to London Assembly member Sian Berry, who stood as the Green party’s candidate for mayor: “Vancouver shows that the very rich buying up luxury flats at the expense of ordinary people is not just a London problem – it’s a growing problem all over the world.

Foreign buyers
Restrictions and incentives around the world
City/Country Type Details
Switzerland Restriction The Lex Koller restricts where and what size property non-residents can buy: non-residents are confined to buying in key holiday zones, predominately in ski resorts and areas surrounding both Montreux and Lugano; the maximum size is 200 sq m of living space, not including balconies or basement areas. The Lex Weber sets a 20% cap on number of second homes per Swiss commune: the law applies to residents and non-residents alike and if the area of the property falls under the jurisdiction of a commune that has already exceeded this limit it is impossible to sell unless the property is already owned as a secondary residence
China Restriction Qualifying foreign individuals and companies are allowed to buy as many properties as they wish on the Chinese mainland, but they are subject to local housing purchase limits. In Shanghai, for example, people without a Shanghai household registration are only allowed to buy one property
New Zealand Restriction A tax on second home properties bought and sold within two years has been introduced. Foreign buyers also have to apply for a government ID number for tax purposes. Some NZ Banks are refusing to provide mortgages for non-residents
Fuji Restriction Land sales in towns restricted to domestic buyers only. Foreigners who currently own houses in Fiji cannot sell it to other non-residents. Foreigners who already own land but have not built a house must do so within two years or face a fine of 10% of the property’s value every six months
US Restriction The identities of buyers for all-cash purchases are now required in Manhattan, Miami-Dade County, California and Texas
Canada Restriction In Vancouver, foreign buyers must pay a new 3% property transfer tax rate applied to the portion of a home sale that exceeds C$2m. Additionally, there is a new 15% property tax for foreign buyers purchasing within the Metro Vancouver area
Indonesia Restriction Foreign nationals who are resident can buy a landed house or apartment in Indonesia, though various requirements must be met, including a minimum price
India Restriction A foreign national of non-Indian origin, resident outside India cannot purchase any immovable property in India unless such property is acquired by way of inheritance from a person who was resident in India
Vietnam Restriction Foreigners are not allowed to own land
Hong Kong Restriction Foreigners can buy property but must pay a 15% additional buyer’s stamp duty
Singapore Restriction Foreigners must pay a 15% additional buyer’s stamp duty
Australia Restriction Foreigners can buy new dwellings but cannot buy established dwellings as investment properties or as homes. Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales charge foreign buyers extra stamp duty. Some states also charge extra land tax
Spain Incentive The Spanish government is preparing a new law which will allow non-EU residents who purchase homes priced above €500,000 to qualify for Spanish residency
Portugal Incentive Portugal allows non-EU investors to gain residency. To qualify new arrivals need to either transfer €1m+ in capital to Portugal, set up a business that creates a minimum of 30 jobs or purchase a property of €500,000+
Greece Incentive Foreign nationals from non-EU countries who have bought property worth more than €250,000 are able to obtain five-year renewable residence permits for themselves and their families
Turkey Incentive Turkey allows 183 nationalities to purchase real estate without restrictions. Other incentives include automatic one year residency permits for foreign property owners and the right of Turkish citizenship after five years
Cyprus Incentive Non-EU nationals who purchase a property above €300,000 have the right to residency


But then:


Story here.

Ohrn Image — Public Art

Here’s a piece of sculpture on the 37th Avenue part of Vancouver’s Ridgeway Greenway.  Located at 37th and Cambie.

Ridgeway Greenway.JPG

Machina Metronoma:  Another way to know that you have worn the wrong shoes for cycling #22. Dwight Atkinson

Artist/Iconographer Dwight Atkinson, MAIBC, Atkinson Iconography Studio.  Gizmologist, John Sund.  Commissioned by City of Vancouver Public Art Program and the Greenways Program.  1997.

Almost least surprising Vancouver headline ever

Really – “in the world”? Once again, Vancouver is top of the list.  From Business in Vancouver:


And yet, we live with the prospect of catastrophe as a likely outcome without expecting it to actually happen.  Reminding me of the great quote in Michael Lewis’s book “The Big Short”:

These people (on Wall Street) believed that the collapse of the subprime mortgage market was unlikely precisely because it would be such a catastrophe.  Nothing so terrible could ever actually happen.

Images from the Comox Greenway

It’s taken a few years, but the Comox Greenway, running from Stanley Park to Burrard, is becoming more heavily used, and loved.

Here are a few shots taken this last weekend:





Ironic perception: the woman with the cane, when asked her opinion about the greenway, felt it was a waste of money because she thought it was only for bikes.  Then she enthusiastically described how she used it as her preferred route when walking, particularly because of the benches and landscaping.

(Larry Frank and Victor Ngo at UBC has documented the before and after effects here.)



Open House: Broadway-Commercial

October 8:  Ian Gillespie’s proposed redevelopment of the Safeway east of the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station, which has been identified as a key site in the Grandview-Woodland community plan.

The information session will be held by developer Westbank Projects (Ian Gillespie) and Crombie REIT, the owner of the Safeway site, at Federico’s Supper Club, 1728 Commercial Dr., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More information on this is in the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, and in this Vancouver Sun article by Brian Morton.

Here are some hints as to what to expect:  the redeveloped old Safeway site at Granville and 70th in Vancouver. Another is underway (early stages) at the Davie / Cardero Safeway in Vancouver’s West End.


Tsawwassen Mills Mega Mall-Last of its Kind?

mills2In a not very surprising article in the Vancouver Sun, Chuck Chiang notes that Industry observers agree: The 1.2-million-sq.-ft. Tsawwassen Mills could be the last major shopping mall development in the Lower Mainland for the next decade, if not longer. Sky-high land prices throughout the region mean that low-density commercial developments such as malls are a difficult business case to make.

This reminds me of a conversation with a friend who was the vice-president of a major development company in Vancouver. That person was bringing 300 units to the market when the City of Vancouver was releasing all those units in Olympic Village. The verdict? The market was flooded with new units, and it would take time for demand to outpace supply. Will this mall have a similar impact on small businesses in Ladner and Tsawwassen, attracting those customers and lowering the independent stores’ profitability?

Developer Ivanhoe Cambridge has plucked a unique piece of Class 1 farmland on Tsawwassen First Nation Territory and put up 1.2 million square foot mall and a 6,000 car parking lot. Joni Mitchell would weep at this paving of paradise. But unlike other mall locations like Oakridge and Park Royal there is no high density housing associated with the project, and no large local population to draw from. With poor public transit and two bus stops plonked on Highway 17, you are not going to be attracting a lot of non car users, unlike McArthurGlen Mall located on the Canada Line on Vancouver Airport property.

In this case a private company has taken advantage of this location to build a 200 plus store mall on Highway 17. Even the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure appears excited, using highways leaderboards to indicate “Expect heavy traffic with Tsawwassen Mills Opening”. As the Vancouver Sun article states “It is suggested that shoppers are willing to drive 1.5 hours to a unique, outlet-based destination mall, and consumers often stay for up to three hours (compared to an hour at a typical mall).”

The new mall manager is quoted saying “In today’s economy, shoppers are really looking for value as part of the equation. So the fact that we have some of these brands … is a real draw for the consumers. We are trying to draw from the Interior, Vancouver Island, the whole Lower Mainland, and even parts of northern Washington State. Upward of 20 per cent of our expected traffic will be what we call the ‘tourism market’.”

The mega mall opens on October 5.  Another “more local” serving mall will be built to the east of the mega mall in the near future.



An evening with Gil Kelley-General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability


The Urbanarium held an event last night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre playhouse where Gil Kelley, the new General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability spoke about himself, his new role, and his perception  of the new directions for the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver has always had an intense familial  relationship with planning and the Director of Planning for the city. We all want to know what is going on, and what mettle that person has for city making, kind of like keeping an eye on an obscure relative you want to like but want to assure yourself that they are truly related to you. I would say as a City we take this position very seriously, and embrace the process of city planning as a tacit expression of our own exuberance, hopes, dreams, and futurism.

Gil may have said it correctly when he alluded to the fact that both Portland Oregon and Vancouver have  passionate focus upon “urban planning substituting for major league sports”. We want to watch, participate, and if our team is losing, we sure want that Planning Department to know.

Describing himself as an active listener that likes to ask “why are we doing this?” Gil perceives his role as part planning director, and part doctor, diagnosing challenges and creating capacity building opportunities with his staff.

Gil worked for the City of Berkeley California for 14 years, was Director of Planning in Portland Oregon for 9 years, and worked and consulted for the City of San Francisco lastly as the Director of Citywide Planning. He also has an abiding passion for educational advancement of planning and was a Loeb Scholar at Harvard University. He has the unique experience of working in the four big cities in Cascadia “where land and sea converges” and described the issues facing San Francisco in terms of housing affordability and access as the harbinger of what could occur in Vancouver.

Describing the years of  Director of Planning Ray Spaxman’s leadership and that of  Co-Directors of Planning Larry Beasley and Ann McAfee as the decades of “big thinking” in the planning department, Gil noted that Vancouver’s big picture may seem fuzzy, but it is a moment in time to talk about the global impacts of climate change and the transformative global economy. Foresight and imagination are needed to avoid a two class society. Gil described the City of San Francisco where millennials and baby boomers are drawn to the inner core of the city while lower-income people and families left the city. While 70,000 people come to San Francisco annually, 60,000 leave, resulting in a 10,000 annual population increase in a city of 850,000 people.


A new diverse economy supportive of inclusivity and equitable for all people is needed. In the past, traditional city planning and the civic tradition was popular, but now a new alignment is needed to bolster livability, and address the need for social equity. Add to this mix the need to bolster our waterside city against earthquakes and floods, and Gil points out the need for a “four city compact” where San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver can discuss and compare urban issues and solutions to common challenges, and the paradigm of inequity.

To create affordable housing, community engagement is needed and trust created with the community. Gil notes in his review Vancouver has the zoned capacity to take growth up to the year 2041, and stresses the importance of dealing with housing as a regional issue. He also mentioned the importance of good city planning for public health, but did not elaborate.

The rapid pace of development in Vancouver means that there needs to be staff empowerment and mentoring for planning staff to problem solve. Gil proposes revisiting the area plans to assess what worked, and what didn’t work. He identifies the need to be proactive, re-evaluate the effectiveness of layered by-laws, and bridge the generational gap, where there are new attitudes about density, development, lifestyle and transit. Couple this with a look at whether community amenity contributions from development are going to their best use, and how sustainability goals can be best achieved.

This Urbanarium event had three men on the stage-one the guest, two other prominent local architects with Urbanarium, all older males, all dressed the same, not reflecting the diversity of the audience and certainly not Vancouver. Gil took aim at the architectural profession, noting that it was time for architectural design to do a better job on the street, with much of False Creek’s older design “looking tired”. He expressed the importance of urban design of public space between buildings, thinking about the “missing middle” a housing form in between single family and apartment living, and stressed the importance of thinking as a region to create livability and equity.

Gil has a thoughtful reasoned approach to city building that will incorporate and bolster the strong skills of planning staff. With his emphasis on strengthening the relationship regionally and building the trust of citizens we may indeed be entering the next phase of “Big Thinking” in Vancouver’s Planning Department.


Director of Citywide Planning

City and County of San Francisco

April 2014 – Present (2 years 6 months)San Francisco, CA

Practitoner in Residence

Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University

December 2011 – Present (4 years 10 months)


Gil Kelley & Associates, Urban and Strategic Planning

2009 – Present (7 years)

Senior Vice President, Director of Development

Harsch Investment Properties

April 2013 – April 2014 (1 year 1 month)Portland Area, Oregon

Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Portland Metropolitan Studies

Portland State University

April 2009 – March 2014 (5 years)Portland, Oregon

Loeb Fellow, Graduate School of Design

Harvard University

August 2009 – 2010 (1 year)


Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

2009 – 2010 (1 year)

Director of Planning

City of Portland, OR

2000 – 2009 (9 years)

Director of Planning & Development

City of Berkeley, CA

1985 – 1999 (14 years)

Urban Planning Consultant, San Francisco, California

Gil Kelley & Associates

1981 – 1985 (4 years)

Senior Planner

Town of North Bonneville, WA

1974 – 1978 (4 years)

Item from Ian: The Decline of Parking

From The Guardian:

Lots to lose: how cities around the world are eliminating car parks

It’s a traditional complaint about urban life: there’s never anywhere to park. But in the 21st century, do cities actually need less parking space, not more?


“As parking regulations were put into zoning codes, most of the downtowns in many cities were just completely decimated,” says Michael Kodransky, global research manager for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy. “What the cities got, in effect, was great parking. But nobody goes to a city because it has great parking.”

Increasingly, cities are rethinking this approach.

As cities across the world begin to prioritise walkable urban development and the type of city living that does not require a car for every trip, city officials are beginning to move away from blanket policies of providing abundant parking. Many are adjusting zoning rules that require certain minimum amounts of parking for specific types of development. Others are tweaking prices to discourage driving as a default when other options are available. Some are even actively preventing new parking spaces from being built. …

After San Francisco implemented a pilot project with real-time data on parking availability and dynamic pricing for spaces, an evaluation found that the amount of time people spent looking for parking fell by 43%. And though there’s no data available on whether that’s meant more people deciding not to drive to San Francisco, various researchers have shown that a 10% increase in the price of parking can reduce demand between 3-10%….

pakingAnd though many cities in the US are changing zoning and parking requirements to reduce or even eliminate parking minimums, cities in Europe are taking a more forceful approach. Zurich, has been among the most aggressive. In 1996, the city decreed that there would be no more parking: officials placed a cap on the amount of parking spaces that would exist there, putting in place a trading system by which any developer proposing new parking spaces would be required to remove that many parking spaces from the city’s streets. The result has been that the city’s streets have become even more amenable to walking, cycling and transit use.

Copenhagen has also been reducing the amount of parking in the central city. Pedestrianising shopping streets raising prices of parking and licences and developing underground facilites on the city’s outskirts has seen city-centre parking spaces shrink and the proportion of people driving to work fall from 22% to 16%.

Paris has been even more aggressive. Starting in 2003, the city began eliminating on-street parking and replacing it with underground facilities. Roughly 15,000 surface parking spaces have been eliminated since.

But progress is not limited to Europe. Kodransky says cities all over the world are rethinking their parking policies. São Paulo, for instance, got rid of its minimum parking requirements and implemented a maximum that could be built into specific projects. Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are hoping to emulate San Francisco’s dynamic pricing approach.

And as cities begin to think more carefully about how parking relates to their urban development, their density and their transit accessibility, it’s likely that parking spaces will continue to decline around the world.

“Ultimately parking needs to be tackled as part of a package of issues,” Kodransky says. “It’s been viewed in this super-narrow way, it’s been an afterthought. But increasingly cities are waking up to the fact that they have this sleeping giant, these land uses that are not being used in the most optimal way.”