Design‚ Development‚ and Housing

The Hidden Cost of Bundled Parking

C.J. Gabbe, Gregory Pierce

Urban renters in the US face fast-rising housing prices, especially in coastal metropolitan areas. Price increases are in part due to restrictive land-use regulations. Minimum off-street parking requirements, a central component of land-use regulation in the US, warrant detailed study and policy reform. In most cities today, municipal regulation requires developers to provide on-site parking. Renters or buyers then pay for this parking as part of their monthly rent or purchase price; the price of parking is thus “bundled” with the price of the housing unit. While many households might have chosen to pay for on-site parking in a free market, this proportion is surely lower than what has been mandated. Moreover, the historical effect of minimums and bundled parking hides a transportation cost burden in housing prices, leaving households unable to choose. Minimum parking requirements force developers to build costly parking spaces that drive up the price of housing. Urban policymakers have recently taken an interest in reforming parking regulations and allowing unbundled parking based on social equity and environmental sustainability rationales.

Life-Cycle Impacts of Transit-Oriented Development

Matthew J. Nahlik and Mikhail Chester

There is a growing interest in pedestrian and transit-oriented development as a way to reduce the cost of transportation and home energy use. Yet there is little knowledge of how much alternative travel modes and compact developments reduce environmental impacts and household costs. As US cities begin to rethink their growth, city planners need better tools to measure the environmental and economic effects of infrastructure redesign.

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Suburban Transit in Mexico City

Erick Guerra

Over the past decade, governments and development agencies have invested significantly in high-capacity transit in Asian, Latin American, and African cities. Beijing’s subway system grew from just two lines in 2000 to one of the world’s largest metro systems today. Each year, a dozen new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines open in cities around the world. Concerns about economic competitiveness, congestion, sprawl, pollution, and accessibility for the poor and middle class motivate these investments.

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Can We Have Sustainable Transportation without Making People Drive Less or Giving up Suburban Living?

Mark Delucchi

City planners, transportation analysts, and policymakers have struggled to reconcile the promises and problems created by suburban land use and automobiles. On the one hand, automobile use and suburban living are widely and highly valued; as people become wealthier, they tend to buy cars and live in bigger homes farther away from central cities. Many urban planners, however, blame automobiles and automobile-driven sprawl for a wide range of problems, including climate change, road fatalities and injuries, rising traffic congestion, ugly urban form, oil dependency, and increasing social fragmentation. Most approaches to these problems focus on curtailing automobile use and its impacts. Outside of densely populated cities, however, it is hard to reduce personal automobile use.

Trip Generation for Smart Growth Projects

Robert J. Schneider, Susan L. Handy, and Kevan Shafizadeh

California encourages developers to pursue urban infill projects in order to achieve a variety of infrastructure efficiency and environmental goals. Since they are already surrounded by established developments, infill projects provide better opportunities for walking, bicycling, and public transit, and they encourage fewer automobile trips than new suburban developments. Nevertheless, developers often meet resistance when proposing infill projects.

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Parking Requirements and Housing Development: Regulation and Reform in Los Angeles

Michael Manville

When cities require off-street parking with all new residential construction, they shift what should be a cost of driving—the cost of parking a car—into the cost of housing. A price drivers should pay at the end of their trips becomes a cost developers must bear at the start of their projects. Faced with these minimum parking requirements, developers may build less housing, and the housing they do build may be more likely to include parking. Parking requirements could therefore reduce both the amount and variety of housing in a city.

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Parking Reform Made Easy

Richard Willson

Parking requirements in zoning ordinances create one of the most wasteful elements of transportation and land use systems: unoccupied parking spaces. Each space requires over 300 square feet of valuable land or building area, yet many sit empty. Minimum parking requirements at shopping malls, for example, often lead to sprawling developments surrounded by large, underused parking lots. Spaces for workplaces may be well-used during the day but remain unoccupied in the evening because they are not shared with other land uses. Sometimes, the parking required is greater than the amount of parking ever used. Download the PDF.

Is a Half-Mile Circle the Right Standard for TODs?

Erick Guerra and Robert Cervero

Planners and researchers use transit catchment areas—the land around stations—as geographic units for predicting ridership, assessing the impacts of transit investments and, recently, for designing transit-oriented developments (TODs). In the US, a half-mile-radius circle has become the de facto standard for rail-transit catchment areas. Download the PDF.

Opportunities and Challenges for TODs in Southern California

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

When the concept of transit-oriented development (TOD) first appeared in the 1980s, many planners and academics enthusiastically endorsed it as a way to increase transit ridership and mitigate sprawl. But actual implementation of TOD projects in Southern California was slow to follow. Developers and funding institutions worried about TODs viability in a region married to the car. Download the PDF.

Two-Way Street Networks: More Efficient than Previously Thought?

Vikash V. Gayah

One-way streets in downtown areas are receiving a critical look. City officials and urban planners have started a movement to convert downtown street networks from their traditional one-way operation to two-way operation. This effort seems to be largely successful—many cities (e.g., Denver, CO; Dallas and Lubbock, TX; Tampa, FL; Des Moines, IA; Salina, KS; Kansas City, MO; Sacramento, CA) have either recently made or are in the process of making such conversions. These conversions are intended to improve vehicular access and reduce driver confusion. Many additional factors go into this decision, but the general premise is clear: travelers and residents prefer two-way streets for a variety of economic and livability reasons, while traffic engineers and transportation planners believe that one-way streets serve traffic more efficiently. Download the PDF.