Do minimum parking requirements matter?




Jones-Meyer, Stephen Nathan

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A central thesis of contemporary urban planning policy is that minimum parking requirements (MPRs) directly cause an oversupply of off-street parking. This thesis assumes that MPRs bind real estate developer decisions regarding how much parking to provide in a given project and force them to construct more parking than they otherwise would in an environment free of such a constraint. Proponents of off-street parking policy reform propose deregulating parking requirements and allowing developers to respond to real estate market indicators. The removal of MPR, it is assumed, would leave developers free to determine how much or how little parking to provide based on the needs of their own project. Much of the existing literature has focused on the negative effects of too much off-street parking supply and the potential benefits of deregulation. Yet far fewer studies have interrogated the relationship between MPRs and real estate developer’s decisions. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, it seeks to better understand how these questions have been addressed in existing research. Second, it examines how developers have responded to changes in minimum parking requirements in the city of Austin, Texas. This study reveals that it is possible to improve parking research by identifying treatment and control groups. By doing so, we see that parking supply behaves differently under various reduction programs and in different geographic regions. When no reduction is provided, we see close adherence to the MPR in the aggregate even though some developments propose much more than required. Parking supply, being a voluntary choice of the developer, appears to sometimes be influenced by the MPR. Other times, the MPR does not seem to matter.


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