The parking dilemma and LA’s future

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Underground parking structure. Photo credit: Peter H/CC 2.0, via Pixabay

When it comes to transportation in LA, driving is one issue, but parking is another. And housing units have to come with a certain number of parking spaces. That’s known as parking minimums. 

Steven Sharp, managing editor of Urbanize L.A., explains that the baseline (established by the zoning code) calls for multi-family buildings to have one parking space per unit with less than three habitable rooms. 

This translates into lots of parking, which could go underground, but digging underground is really expensive. So developers instead dedicate the street-level floors to garage space (known as a parking podium), and the actual apartment units begin a few levels up. 

But this goes against LA’s attempt to make streets more pedestrian friendly (that means maybe having retail stores -- rather than parking -- at ground level). 

So the City of LA is considering not allowing developers to build parking podiums, and if they’re going to provide parking, then it has to go underground, but that’s expensive. So planners say that if they do away with minimum parking requirements, developers can make a choice: invest in underground parking or build less parking, or maybe not build any parking at all.

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