Parking: Strong Towns Demonstrate some Fallacies With Parking

Including Parking MAXIMUMS

 

Parking and for planners and communities alike parking minimums. The two very things more likely to polarise a city in a debate than putting in a three storey walk up apartment in Orakei. But what if we looked at parking more rationally and logically especially as Auckland becomes more urban (which it is).

The problem with our current planning regime until the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan hopefully replaces it in September is that we set our parking to deal with the Boxing Day madness much like the Americans set it for Black Friday madness. The problem is that the parking facilities are then left largely empty for the rest of the year resulting in an extremely inefficient use of space that could be used for more productive means whether it be residential, commercial or civic (including parks). One also has to remember that free parking at the mall is never free parking when it comes to economic opportunity costs either (see: Free Parking is NOT Free Parking).

 

Strong Town has five top articles around parking that is highly recommended reading for Auckland especially as the final version of the Unitary Plan draws near. Those articles being:

4 EASY STEPS TO SQUASH THE “THERE’S NO PARKING” ARGUMENT

  1.  UNDERSTAND PERCEPTION
    The easiest and most time-effective way of convincing your opposition is to have them acknowledge that the perception of parking availability is different than the reality. People come to the conclusion of parking scarcity for a good reason; many live elsewhere and only visit the city during peak periods or special events.
  2. MAP PARKING SUPPLY
    Load up Google Maps in your favorite web browser, search for your local area, and do a screen capture. Paste the image into MS Paint, or a similar program. Start highlighting the open surface parking lots and parking garage structures. I recommend downloading Google Earth for this task.
    Cue Manukau City Centre with its parking supply (see map further down).

  3. DOCUMENT UNUSED SUPPLY
    Walk around your selected area during normal conditions and take photos. By ‘normal conditions’, I mean you shouldn’t document supply the evening of a Rolling Stones concert, nor should you snap photos at 4am on Monday morning.

  4. USE YOURSELF AS A CASE STUDY
    Do it yourself advocacy is as simple as parking. I recommend getting a cheap dashboard camera (or mounting your phone) and recording yourself trying to park. I did this and you can see the results in this video (below). I called it a challenge. It was anything but. As expected, parking was simple.

…….

Source: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/5/9/4-easy-steps-to-squash-the-theres-no-parking-argument

 

Manukau City Centre and all that parking (ironically on Council land)

Manukau development sites Land owned by Auckland Council
Manukau development sites
Land owned by Auckland Council

 

This next Strong Towns article was quite amusing owing to very simple economics and a whole pile of whinging from people who don’t quite get it.

 

 

WHY I LOVE TRADER JOE’S PARKING LOTS

Notoriously bemoaned, Trader Joe’s parking lots are known for their small size, tight spots and limited manoeuvring areas. I recently saw a link to a Buzzfeed article entitled “23 Hilariously Accurate Tweets About Trader Joe’s Parking Lots.”  It contained comments like this:

trader-joes-parking-tweet.jpg
trader-joes-parking-tweet-2.jpg

These shoppers are frustrated because when they arrive at Trader Joe’s they can’t find parking within 5 seconds, like they can at most other grocery stores. They blame Trader Joe’s for not providing them with “sufficient” parking. But, as we have shown year after year in our #BlackFridayParking campaign, the opposite is actually true. What we are used to is massively excessive parking. What Trader Joe’s provides is actually “sufficient” parking–sufficient for a quick turnover between spots and for maximum use of limited space.

Sufficient, too, for Trader Joe’s bottom line. As the investment firm JLL reported in 2014, “Trader Joe’s sells twice as much per square foot as Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s sells a whopping $1,734 per square foot […] In comparison, Whole Foods sells $930 per square foot.”

Trader Joe’s has a unique business model and one key aspect of that is keeping stores small–including the parking lot. That means costs are lower for the company, and it is able to locate in dense urban areas where it knows it will have a reliable customer base. The people behind this company aren’t dumb; they’re pretty brilliant. They’re created a truly unusual grocery store experience and built quite a bit of hype around it.

………

Source: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/3/16/trader-joes

As I said simple economics that the company understood and hey it must be literally paying off if Trader Joe is selling at a rate of ~100% more per sqaure foot of space than their rivals with big sprawling parking lots. Remember parking isn’t free. Also a note to developers, Council and commercial owners in Auckland – smaller with less parking is better. Yes I am looking at you Countdown with your sprawling supermarkets and massive car parks that sit empty most days. Meanwhile the Countdown in Manukau Mall as well as the Pak n Save in Manukau and Papakura which are smaller and have smaller parking lots do a ripper of the trade seven days a week (try all 23 check outs including self-serve FULL).

 

 

MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING SHOULD ALSO BE AGAINST ZONING

WHY DO BARS HAVE PARKING LOTS IF WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO DRIVE HOME?

At the other end of the spectrum I have nothing but amusement and admiration for Louisiana’s stubbornly post-modern response to modernist prescriptive rule making. Rather than require parking for bars, Louisiana allows drive-thru daiquiris. Their solution to this apparent design flaw? A requirement to tape the straw down for the driver.

When it comes to drunk driving, America may have a bigger driving problem than a drinking problem. Sometimes I tell people that I became a planner in order to ensure everyone can safely imbibe and safely get home. When you step back and think about it though, how well do we really consider our development decisions regarding drinking establishments? I contend that the way typical code treats drinking establishments is indicative of the kind of misguided positivism that is pervasive in modern planning. The kind of prescriptive guidance that can specify how many trees you need in a parking lot but completely misses the simple practical relationship between how people use the site and their ability to stay safe. Modernist standardization erases the creativity and common sense that come from small scale solutions.

I have never understood how a zoning code could, in good faith, permit a drinking establishment that could only possibly be reached by car. In doing so, are we not creating a scenario in which people have no option but to drive to a place where they then become unable to safely drive home? I am hardly the first person to comment on the absurdity of this arrangement.

…….

Source: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/1/11/mothers-against-drunk-driving-should-also-be-against-zoning

If only our public transport system was better so I did not need to take the car and worry about that drink tipping me over (does not mean I am so pissed I am spewing in the parking lot garden) while the bar own did not need to dedicate so much space to parking that is empty in daylight hours…..

 

The AT Ronwood Avenue - Manukau Parking Building
The AT Ronwood Avenue – Manukau Parking Building

 

 

WHY NOT PARKING MAXIMUMS?

This week we’ve been focusing on the issue of parking culminating with our #BlackFridayParking event. We hope you will join us Friday by:

  1. Taking photos of the parking lots in your city.
  2. Sharing the photos online with the hashtag #blackfridayparking.
  3. Sharing our message with others.

I’m going to paraphrase a line of questioning I’ve received a few times in the past.

We’re not advocating for parking maximums, although I’m sympathetic to the sentiment. What we are trying to do this week is expand the dialog on parking and give those who want to push back against absurd parking requirements more tools to do so. For every place in this country that would even consider a parking maximum, there are hundreds where the simple step of repealing parking minimums would be considered an act of revolution.

And while I’m sympathetic to the notion of parking maximums, I’m not sold on the concept. Yes, national retailers with their financing model are going to always want bizarre amounts of parking. If you’re doing the math on these kind of places, you’re not building more of them anyway. And if you’re not doing the math rigorously with your development review process, that’s actually a more urgent problem than parking. Having maximums in place is not going to help you in any substantive way.

……..

Source: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/11/24/why-not-parking-maximums

One way to throw the cat amongst the parking pigeons by suggesting parking maximums are just as dumb as parking minimums (which are dumb any way).

The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (currently being deliberated by the Hearings Panel before they send their recommendations to Council next month) looked at parking maximums for the City Centre and the ten Metropolitan Centres rather than the historic parking minimums. The logic being parking maximums prevent developers building sprawling parking lots (something parking minimums actually did) as the 11 centres would be connected to a well serviced public transport system.

Well the public transport system is no where adequate and will not be until at least 2040 at current speed with Auckland Transport and as it was said above:

And while I’m sympathetic to the notion of parking maximums, I’m not sold on the concept. Yes, national retailers with their financing model are going to always want bizarre amounts of parking. If you’re doing the math on these kind of places, you’re not building more of them anyway. And if you’re not doing the math rigorously with your development review process, that’s actually a more urgent problem than parking. Having maximums in place is not going to help you in any substantive way.

So Council is going with the big stick approach and no carrot with parking maximums. Cue appeals to the Environment Court on this one.

 

 

MY CAR PAYS CHEAPER RENT THAN ME

Except that I do not own a car anymore. We sold our car when we moved to Hoboken, NJ. My wife and I both commute to Manhattan, and we are spoilt with trains, buses, and ferries. When we stick around Hoboken, we walk to restaurants, to parks, to church. Much of Hoboken’s charm comes from the city being only 1.3 square miles, so pretty much the entire city of Hoboken is within walking distance. Occasionally we want to go off the beaten path and head into more suburban parts of New Jersey, and have used Uber (our average Uber trip costs around $10), but after living here for nearly 4 months, we’ve used Uber a total of 7 times. All of that combined is cheaper than just one month of what we were paying for car insurance.

  1. WHY DO WE HAVE PARKING MINIMUMS?
  2. WHO DECIDES PARKING MINIMUMS?

  3. IN AN URBAN NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE MOST PEOPLE WALK FOR LOCAL TRIPS, WHY SHOULD LOCAL BUSINESSES BE FORCED TO ACCOMMODATE CARS?
  4. WHY DO WE THINK WE CAN ACT IN A BUSINESS’S BEST INTEREST BETTER THAN THE BUSINESS?
  5. WHY DO WE SUBSIDIZE AND ENCOURAGE DRIVING?
  6. IF PARKING IS SUCH A PROBLEM HOLDING THE CITY BACK, HOW COME THE STREETS THRIVE WITH PEOPLE WHEN CLOSED TO CARS DURING SPECIAL EVENTS?
    Note that cars are not the ultimate form of individual mobility despite what Councillor Dick Quax thinks. I would wager that cars are the opposite (and an economic drag like motorways) unlike a well tuned public and active transport system that is healthier (for the physical and human environments) and allowing a city to be more productive than otherwise with car-centric policies. A well tuned public and active transport system allowing people to actually ditch the car is also better for our pockets too (e.g I am sure sinking $650 in car repairs could have been better spent on more productive things else where).
  7. WHY SHOULD MY CAR PAY CHEAPER RENT THAN ME?
    “In effect, parking minimums are forcing property owners to take a loss.”  << That is stupid economics right there.
  8. WHAT IS STOPPING US FROM ELIMINATING PARKING MINIMUMS?
    Answer: nothing

…….

Source: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/11/22/my-car-pays-cheaper-rent-than-me

 

Auckland is slowing getting its act together but the mentality of car and parking is king is still very strong. Overseas cities are showing how we can do even large item shopping using public and active transport modes. This means with a bit of help from retailers and NZ Post there is nothing stopping us from doing the same either. As Trader Joe also showed bigger in the form of physical retail space and parking provisions is not always better with the smaller Trader Joe stores having less parking but turning over ~100% more per square of retail space compared to its rivals.

Given the land restrictions and even air space (going up restrictions) in the City Centre and Metropolitan Centres like Manukau City Centre doing a Trader Joe or even a Manukau Mall Countdown in going small and nimble would make more economic sense rather than a large often empty looking store like Countdown Manukau next to Te Irirangi Drive.

But for Auckland to really throw the monkey off its neck that is excessive parking our public and active transport system need to be better and well before 2040.

 

Rush hour traffic backing up heading to the industrial complex. Trams at work as well
Rush hour traffic backing up heading to the industrial complex. Trams at work as well

 

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