Would fewer LA parking lots mean fewer drivers?

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Los Angeles traffic on the 405 freeway Photo credit: JefferyTurner (CC BY 2.0)

Parking in downtown LA isn’t exactly easy. Coveted street spots have confusing rules and are so often full, public parking lots can feel few and far between and circling the block over and over again makes it tempting to just give up.

But it might get even harder.

Right now, developers have to provide parking spaces for new buildings. The number depends on what kind of building it is. If it’s a residential building there has to be between one and two parking spaces per apartment or condo, depending on the number of bedrooms.

A draft set of development guidelines for DTLA wants to get rid of that parking minimum.

UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup said complexes without parking won’t be any less attractive.

“One developer told me...there are ten million peope in this country, and all I have to do is attract 50 people who don’t own a car or will be willing to pay for parking,” he said. “If you want more housing and less traffic, I don’t think you should require all housing to have parking.”

Shoup calls the proposal a win-win. Less parking means more housing, and cheaper prices.

When a developer constructs parking, they usually have to go underground. It’s an expensive process, and usually means higher rent. Nationally, the cost of garage parking comes in at about $1,700 per year, or 17% of a units rent.

“If you had a choice between two side-by-side buildings and one of them offered two free parking spaces and the one next to it didn’t have parking, the guy who doesn’t have any parking would have to offer a lower rent. It just wouldn’t make any sense.”

Plus, he says, eliminating parking requirements doesn’t mean eliminating parking altogether. It just becomes more flexible to supply and demand.

“When you require parking, you’re encouraging people to have cars,” he said. “We just ought to invite people who are willing to live with no cars or one car.”



Larry Perel


Caleigh Wells