Pedestrians rise as parking era comes to an end

Parking for cars with every new building has been the law since the 1950s (complementing the 1956 Highway Act which legislated our interstate system), not surprisingly resulting in what are easily recognized post-1950s developments and buildings – they look like cars are the priority. The 2000s mark the era where cities have decided that the great experiment is over, and are now focusing on pedestrians and people once again. Where to start? Removing parking requirements for every new building.

Milwaukee began easing parking requirements in the 1990s while San Francisco and London changed minimum parking requirements into maximums decades ago. Washington DC is looking to eliminate parking requirements altogether, with some exceptions. This would be a significant asset to a green condo development in Washington DC’s H Street neighborhood that I’m helping to crowdsource. Why? Half the units couldn’t be built if parking were required because there simply isn’t enough room, which means the developer has to charge higher prices to make up for the loss in volume, which is unfortunate especially when you consider that many of DC’s homebuyers don’t even have cars.

Here’s a vignette of this trend in Milwaukee, quoting its former mayor in an AP article, “…a lot sat vacant for decades after a historic building burned down. The required parking made it unfeasible to build anything new there. After officials relaxed the parking requirement, a thriving restaurant sprang up.”

Image: Amsterdam by hunting ghosts.