Space is money. That’s the bottom line from University of Connecticut researchers who examined the money that cities leave on the table when they add parking spaces instead of parking decks and neglect to upgrade their public transportation.
The logic is simple: an empty patch of asphalt generates far less revenue than a building with a business in it. While parking decks at least minimize your economic losses, parking lots and spaces are the budgetary equivalent of a city lighting its money on fire.
You want specifics? We have specifics.
They Lose Revenue
The study found that a parking space loses the city about $1,200 per year. In Hartford, Connecticut, the state’s capitol, that added up to $50 million in 2014 alone.
In 2008, downtown Raleigh had 40,000 parking spaces, which adds up to $48 million ($1,200 x 40,000), and that’s just downtown. Think about how much more commercial parking exists in all of Raleigh, Cary, and Durham.
They Inhibit Development
If you follow Raleigh news, you know that the city is trying to figure out how to grow. We have lots of people moving here, but the cost of housing is high. We want businesses to flourish, but we also want this to be a nice place to live.
Huge parking lots are ugly. They take up space that businesses could occupy. And if you’re not a customer, you can’t park there.
They Exacerbate Traffic
Possibly the worst effect is traffic. The study authors show how creating more sparking spaces incentives people to drive more, which puts more cars on the road, and increases the amount of traffic. Since we can’t widen the roads downtown, that means congestion.
If the roads are clogged, people are less likely to enjoy going out and patronizing businesses. There’s also more fuel wasted due to idling, and the increase in pollution is awful for health. Joggers and dog walkers will be less likely to go out, and trying to eat outside with exhaust fumes and an endless procession of cars honking is no picnic.
In conclusion, we should rethink how we do parking in Raleigh. As this report suggests, the upsides are few and the downsides are significant.