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Cities and towns making developers provide too much parking, study says

A study of 200 apartment and condo buildings and complexes largely built in the Boston area since 2000 found nearly 30% of their parking spaces go unused, suggesting planning agencies and boards need to do a better job resisting NIMBY demands for acres of asphalt, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council says.

In the vast majority of developments we studied, the average parking use was less than one space per household, and across the entire sample, only 70 percent of the available spaces were full when surveyed. In affordable housing developments (sites where 50 percent or more of the apartments are deed restricted) demand was even lower: only 0.55 cars were parked per household. ...

At a quarter of the sites, less than half the parking was occupied. The pattern of oversupply was observed in all 14 cities and towns. MAPC counted nearly 6,000 empty parking spaces - over 41 acres of pavement - representing an estimated $94.5 million in construction costs (or about $5,000 per housing unit in the survey).

MAPC numbers show the effect holds even at luxury buildings. At Avalon North Station, which provides an average of less than half a space per unit, 19% of the parking spaces go unused; At AVA Theater District, which provides a bit more than half a parking space per unit, 39% of the spaces go unused. At Gateway Boston, a luxury building in the Fenway, which provides one space per unit, 61% of the spaces go unfilled.

But so what if buildings have some extra parking? Those spaces don't come cheap, the council says:

A more "perfect fit" of parking supply and demand can lower development costs, enable more affordable housing, free up land for open space, and promote sustainable transportation, while also protecting neighborhoods from spillover parking. Communities that adopt a more datadriven approach to decision-making are better able to respond to changing demographics, unique building characteristics, new transportation technologies, and evolving commuting practices.

The council, which represents planners in 40 Boston-area communities, said alleged transit-oriented developments built atop or next to transit stations in particular need to have their parking requirements shrunk:

The more parking is provided, the more likely it is that a household will use it.

These findings make it clear: not only is the overbuilding of parking in residential developments wasting tremendous amounts of money and useful space; but the provision of abundant parking may also be counterproductive to local transportation goals for traffic and sustainability. Transit-proximate developments that provide easy parking are less transit-oriented than they might seem: they’re attracting car-owning households less inclined to use the available transit and more likely to use their cars, affecting local traffic with every trip.

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Comments

BuT WhaT ABouT THe [email protected]?

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Voting closed 30

Most of these apartments that 'include' parking come at an additional cost on top of rent. If parking wasn't another large expense in addition to the rental prices I bet developers would see more people utilizing those spots and not parking on the street (FREE)!

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Voting closed 6

These car driving NIMBYs are scum. Non drivers have to spend $5,000 extra for a place to live just because these spoiled brat drivers say so. Disgusting. There should be no mandatory parking for any building in Boston. No more welfare for entitled drivers.

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Voting closed 30

It's almost as if the minority of very loud residents have no clue what they're yelling about, and are actually making the transit and traffic problems worse (but increasing property values). Squeaky wheels though!

Also, instead of taxing uber, maybe Marty should look into a fee for resident parking (offset it with a discount for buying MBTA monthly passes) and Congestion pricing.

130,000 new residents by 2040. By 2050, the city will have more residents and many more jobs than its historical high in the late 1940s, but with a very different car culture (ask five car Flaherty).

Smart, hard things need to be done, otherwise people and businesses will suffer, and we'll leave economic growth on the table.

Time for some actual leadership Marty, shoulder rubbing with CEOs was just recess.

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Voting closed 54

Especially once people have to pay for permits. The sense of ownership will be stronger.

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And yet fewer people will be tempted to store cars permanently on the street because it will not be free, presumably making spaces somewhat more readily available...

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Voting closed 21

Store cars? Ummm okay. Working class Boston residents don't 'store' their cars, they park their cars they use for work on the street. Cut the crap with the SHAMING of the car-driving working class people of Boston.

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Voting closed 16

As if every working person has or wants a car or relies on a car to get to work, and has NO OTHER CHOICE

Free parking does NOTHING for a person who by choice or circumstance does not have want or rely on a car. No, the street shouldn't be a free garage for everyone who went and got a car they have nowhere to park. What about the rest of us? Why do we owe you free parking?

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Voting closed 21

on the street, and move them only for Snow Emergencies and Street Cleaning.

Many car owners in the city only use their cars on the weekend, and walk or take the T to work during the week.

Source: I used to be among them, but now don't own a car at all.

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Voting closed 17

I'm absolutely one of those residents.

I also think its absurd it is free, especially when its tied to each registration and not to household.

My tiny 2 door civic takes up about half the space of the monster SUVs and trucks parked up and down the block. Meanwhile the Flaherty household parks 5 or more cars, to my 1.

Parking should incurre fees based on both the size of the vehicle and the number of cars attached to the residence. But any change does need city hall also heavily lobbying for both fixing and expanding public transit as well.

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Voting closed 12

You know there are 6-7 drivers in the Flaherty household, right? He doesn’t walk out of the house every morning and do an “ini me-ni my-ni mo” with cars.

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Voting closed 4

and everyone *needs* their own car? in a city? what happened to sharing?

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Voting closed 1

Huh, what? In a city? A city with public transit issues daily. I don’t presume to know each individual in the city’s needs, do you?
Ppl I know whose households have multiple cars are picking up and dropping off kids to camp, day care, sports...
commuting to work, working jobs that require a vehicle, transporting family members to appointments, etc. Sharing works for many people, not for all. If there are 5 cars and at least 6 drivers they are sharing, aren’t they?

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Voting closed 0

never said anything about everyone in the city needing a car.

if it is simpler:

a household with 5 cars and 6 people is not concerned about public transit. that same household's need for 5 cars because camp and daycare and sports, is also total bullshit.

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Voting closed 1

something that gets talked about a lot is zoning but not specifically the parts of zoning related to adding parking to existing properties. I'd love to get my car off the street for multiple reasons, but despite most the houses on my street having 6, maybe 7 foot wide driveways that've been part of the property since the 50s, zoning and code says we need a 10" clearance on the side of the house to put in a single small driveway that'd take two (maybe three small) cars off the street.

dumb.

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Voting closed 4

This might be one of those cases where it’s better to ask for forgiveness...

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Voting closed 3

It is subsidized parking on public roadways.
It is indeed overnight storage most of the time.
I don't care if they are upper-class, they deserve NOT to beshamed but made aware of the subsidies they receive that are paid for by all property-tax payers, aka hidden costs.

Also it blocks usuable space for moving traffic.

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Voting closed 5

1920 748,060 +11.6%
1930 781,188 +4.4%
1940 770,816 −1.3%
1950 801,444 +4.0%
1960 697,197 −13.0%
1970 641,071 −8.1%
1980 562,994 −12.2%
1990 574,283 +2.0%
2000 589,141 +2.6%
2010 617,594 +4.8%
2018 694,583 +12.5

from Wikipedia. The population peaked in the 50's and it is currently growing faster than ever. We have room for more people, but not more cars.

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Voting closed 9

Jesus, that drop in a decade...

Thanks for that, I was pulling it from the back of the brain but should have checked.

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Voting closed 4

In the 1950s there were a lot more residents that were not old enough to drive.

I suppose someone could track down the data on what the 18+ population was in 1950 versus today. That would carry more weight.

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Voting closed 3

Tons of kids in Boston back then.

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Voting closed 2

1920 748,060 +11.6%
1930 781,188 +4.4%
1940 770,816 −1.3%
1950 801,444 +4.0%
1960 697,197 −13.0%
1970 641,071 −8.1%
1980 562,994 −12.2%
1990 574,283 +2.0%
2000 589,141 +2.6%
2010 617,594 +4.8%
2018 694,583 +12.5

from Wikipedia. The population peaked in the 50's and it is currently growing faster than ever. We have room for more people, but not more cars.

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Voting closed 5

By no means do I support parking. But dumb question

Since we always like to say (whether its true or not) that many of these condos are owned by foriegn investors who use it to hide money. Others may be purchased just for AirBnb purposes.

So the question is.. how many of these unused space are not in use because its not being used because of the two reason above?

Would this make this figure go down some?

I agree parking isn't the answer but that number seems awful high for unused parking spaces.

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Voting closed 17

Why? It’s not as if the current parking minimums were designed around actual car ownership rates. In most cases they’re just natural numbers picked out of a hat (2 spaces per unit in most of Allston!). Frankly I’m surprised it isn’t higher, but I suspect this is because we don’t know how many of the cars in these lots are owned by actual residents of the buildings (vs. rented out to non-residents to recoup some of the cost). Also, since it’s required by law, of course you are going to end up with more of it than there is market demand for, so it will be artificially cheap, which almost certainly motivates some people to keep a car in the city that otherwise wouldn’t.

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Voting closed 14

Someone buying a high end condo as an investment probably isn't also getting a spot but that doesn't negate the fact there's more parking supply than demand in these developments.

I'm no fan of ride share companies but they really have changed the way people live in cities. When you can always get a door-to-door ride anywhere for $5-10 the want for a personal car drops off quick. The planning agencies are 10 years behind the trends.

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Voting closed 11

The NIMBY old-timers are 10 years behind the trends.

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Voting closed 9

These are rentals not condos

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Should provide MBTA passes to all the construction workers on their sites who take up thousands of parking spaces in the city.

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Voting closed 19

Even if construction workers are taking up a lot of spaces, there's clearly more parking available than is needed. I don't see what your comment has to do with anything here.

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Voting closed 9

Where do you think these tradespeople come from? They don’t all live near the T. Why would they want to use such an unreliable system?

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riding the Silver Line into the Seaport District from South Station every morning before 7 am.

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Right, those are the ones who live near the T, did you miss my comment?

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new hampshire.

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What percent of residents in the apartment building actually own cars? If a low percent of parking spaces of an apartment building are being used but a high percent of residents own cars, where are the residents parking? I'd bet the street.

Maybe the issue is that many residents with cars choose not to pay the higher cost of a unit with parking. Or the extra cost for parking space(s). What is the parking like on the street around the buildings they studied? Are there a lot of tickets issued? Does private parking in those areas have issues with unauthorized cars parking on their private property?

So may be the issue is not that there is too parking available but that the parking available is too expensive.

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Voting closed 9

The available parking is too cheap to influence anyone against owning a car.

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Voting closed 11

In addition to what cinnamngrl said, if any of your theories are indeed true, it suggests that the street parking is indeed cheap and readily available, in which case, what is problem we're solving by building all of this off-street parking exactly?

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Voting closed 7

I didn't read the full results of the study, but I'm wondering what time of day/year these results were taken from?

If this was done on a weekday during working hours, then yeah, obviously a lot of cars won't be parked there if their owners take them to work.

If this was done on a weekend, then there's a good chance many folks weren't home because they were out doing weekend things.

If this was done in the summer, many folks could have been out on a vacation.

The real question is, what percentage of the parking lots are full during a peak demand event, for example, during a midweek snowstorm in the middle of January, after working hours.

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Voting closed 3

Overnight midweek not in the summer. They aren't stupid.

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Voting closed 15

Methodology, from the executive summary (first thing you see if you click the link in the article BTW):

"We interviewed property managers and conducted overnight counts of parking spaces and parked cars at nearly 200 multifamily residential developments in 14 municipalities: Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown. The survey included apartments and condos, large and small projects, and projects close to and far from transit. Counts took place during peak utilization hours:
in the middle of the night on weeknights, and not during the summer or near major holidays. Over two phases of research, we obtained data from 189 sites across the study area.1 The sites included 19,600 housing units, most of which have been built since 2000, and all of which provide off-street parking."

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Voting closed 7

MAPC staff assessed peak residential parking utilization
by conducting weeknight overnight (11:00 p.m.
– 4:00 a.m.) parking observations to confirm
the number of parking spaces and to count the
number of parked vehicles at each site.

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Voting closed 9

I didn't read the full results of the study, but I'm wondering what time of day/year these results were taken from?

You could have determined this information for yourself from the report in the time it took you to write this comment.

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Voting closed 5

only 70 percent of the available spaces were full when surveyed.

Devil's in the details. If they surveyed each lot at 2:30PM on a weekday, then of course it wouldn't be full, because the cars would be at work.

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Voting closed 5

So you could try reading just a tiny bit of the report and find out how they counted parked cars.

"We interviewed property managers and conducted overnight counts of parking spaces and parked cars at nearly 200 multifamily residential developments in 14 municipalities: Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown. The survey included apartments and condos, large and small projects, and projects close to and far from transit. Counts took place during peak utilization hours:
in the middle of the night on weeknights, and not during the summer or near major holidays. Over two phases of research, we obtained data from 189 sites across the study area.1 The sites included 19,600 housing units, most of which have been built since 2000, and all of which provide off-street parking."

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Voting closed 17

MAPC staff assessed peak residential parking utilization
by conducting weeknight overnight (11:00 p.m.
– 4:00 a.m.) parking observations to confirm
the number of parking spaces and to count the
number of parked vehicles at each site.

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Voting closed 14

The ones cited with a significant number of surplus spaces (AVA North Station & Theater District, Gateway) are rental properties and the monthly parking isn't exactly cheap -- $350/month for residents at AVA Theater District, for example. And that's on top of rents which start at $3K/month. In those cases, while the parking does add to the cost of the development, it's also very likely a large profit center for the owner. The low occupancy rate is almost certainly partly due to the price.

High-end condos purchased by foreign investors would likely include parking spaces which would go empty like the units themselves. Excluding parking from those units doesn't make them more attractive, though, as most future buyers at the high end would still want parking included with their units.

Also keep in mind that even in a "transit-oriented development," not all residents necessarily have the option to use public transit to & from work. I live in a building with fantastic T access, but I know that many of my neighbors work in the suburbs, so they're going to be driving. Often, one spouse/partner has a job which is walkable/reachable by transit while the other does not. Others keep a car for errands (replaceable by Uber/Lyft) and weekend trips out of town (not so replaceable).

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Voting closed 4

Yeah but... Let developers build buildings without parking if they want to. If it's important to tenants, then they'll choose places that so provide parking - there is plenty of evidence to support to notion there's an oversupply, and that it drives up development cost, which people who don't have cars then have to bear.

If you want more affordable housing in our city (we all want that... Right?) then allow housing to be built without any parking requirements. The market can decide if we need more car storage.

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Voting closed 13

Can be handled by Zipcar and rentals.

Not everyone can go without owning a car but a good percentage of people who own cars can get by other ways. Not owning a car isn't the same as not driving. You can still go on weekend trips whenever you want.

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The problem is on busy weekends, city rental locations run out of cars. And the cost for one weekend rental is more than the total operating costs for my car for an entire month.

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I rent from Arlington, Cambridge, and Medford. They don't normally run out of cars until Friday and Zipcar always has something.

I generally pay $50/day for rentals. When you factor in the total cost of owning car (insurance, parking, upkeep, etc) renting is normally cheaper.

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Voting closed 7

Enterprise is now up to $95/day plus tax for this weekend. Two days of that is easily more than a month of insurance, repairs, and depreciation on a cheap car. Then there's the cost of my time to get over to the rental office during its short hours (which is one of the best advantages of Zipcar).

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Does the “total operating cost” for your car include depreciation? Because that is by far the largest expense incurred by actually driving a car.

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Yes. That's why I drive a $2000 used Toyota.

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Look, the market will respond. There's a very competitive rental market, both traditional and Zip. If there's more demand, there will be more cars.

I'm getting a Zip to drive to a wedding in CT this weekend. 1.5 days rounds to 2, it'll cost me a hair under $200 including gas.

Comparing that to "total operating costs" doesn't make a lick of sense. Compare it to total cost of ownership, everything including car payments, insurance, gas, tickets, repairs, and 15 minutes of sleep twice a month due to alternate side of the street parking.

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They're building parking no one uses, instead of adding more units and driving down unit prices.

All because parking in this city is so cheap and abundant that people would rather bother with street parking instead of forking over for garage parking or finding alternative transportation.

So to recap:
Empty Building Parking
Higher Cost Housing
Fewer street residential parking spots due to unlimited demand (its free!)
Less housing units

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Voting closed 8

Garages?

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Voting closed 3

In those cases, while the parking does add to the cost of the development, it's also very likely a large profit center for the owner.

The math just doesn't work out that way. E.g. A typical parking space requires ~280 square feet of floor space. With construction costs at around $300/sqft (and much more for steel-framed buildings, which is usually anything over 70 feet), that means it costs around $90k to build a parking space. Amortized over 30 years, that works out to about $426/month, so even if they're able to charge $350/month for every single space (they rarely are), they're still losing $75/month/space. And that's not even counting the lost opportunity cost of space that could have been housing (currently selling for $1k/sqft in those same neighborhoods) OR the fact that excavating underground parking costs MUCH more than $90k/space.

most future buyers at the high end would still want parking included with their units.

Let the developers take this risk if they want to. Don't require them to build parking spaces to make their units more attractive to future buyers.

Also keep in mind that even in a "transit-oriented development," not all residents necessarily have the option to use public transit to & from work.

Yep, and those people that need a car will continue to demand some parking spaces, and developers will continue to build them even if they're not required. Or maybe it will turn out that in some neighborhoods (like JP) there's actually plenty of space to park on the street (because that street is full of one and two family homes) and it doesn't make any sense to force developers to build tons of additional parking.

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Voting closed 5

Did their own study.

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Sounds like you refuse to accept the conclusions of the study because they don't agree with your preconceived notions.

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Voting closed 18

Why is it that this supposedly unbiased study reads like an editorial written by the developers ?
Only a fool would take this seriously. It's a prescription for a future even more nightmarish than the one that Walsh and company is building now.

The fools who write in to champion this nonsense deserve the ugly future that these greedy developers and politicians have in mind for them. Lucky for them those of us who actually see the coming gridlock will vote out the enablers and demand that housing construction only happen when the infrastructure is there to support it.

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Voting closed 5

MAPC is a state-funded council and is not under Walsh's control. I know, I know, Walsh is far more powerful than us mere mortals think and all ...

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Voting closed 6

Disincentivize street parking for multiple cars and you solve a lot of these problems. Most families will shrug at $200 per year to park their two cars, but will think twice about keeping old beaters around to take up spots. Offer income-based discounts for hardships, etc. as well.

Car 1: Free
Car 2: $200
Car 3: $400
Car 4: $800
Car 5: $1,600

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But really, why make the first one free, especially when a cheap-ish private parking space costs over $100 per MONTH?

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the percentage of bicycles using dedicated bike lanes is less. Let's do a study on this.

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