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Los Angeles should reform its parking policies to address a regional housing shortage, according to a report published by the Council of Infill Builders, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the development of new housing in urban cores throughout California.

"Wasted Spaces: Options to Reform Parking Policy in Los Angeles" argues that a combination of excessive parking requirements in new construction, a lack of adequate pricing and enforcement for existing spaces, and poor management of parking assets inflate housing costs and limit mobility in Southern California.

"For the past fifty years, we've [tried] to manage parking by managing development, and we've failed miserably at both," said Mott Smith, a co-founder of the Council of Infill Builders.  "...this report gives Southern Californians real tools that work for addressing the changing ways that Angelenos move and live."

Policy recommendations to local officials include:

  • Eliminate, reduce or right-size minimum parking requirements for any new development project;
  • Charge optimal pricing for parking and ensure revenue from enforcement benefits the local community; and
  • Improve parking management rather than mandating new parking requirements in the zoning code, such as through shared parking and transportation demand options.

"Meeting L.A.'s affordability challenges and growing the city around our transit network will require smart land use policies," added Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.  "Wasted Spaces provides meaningful solutions for city leaders to consider in reassessing and updating our parking policies."

Numerous barriers typically prevent local governments from implementing these type of policy reforms, including public oppositions to parking reductions, a lack of data on parking needs and existing spaces, and excessive parking mandates used as leverage by local groups who trade reduced requirements for specific benefits.

To sidestep these barriers, the report provides several recommendations:

  • Reframe parking policy reform as "improving overall mobility and access to destinations" to alleviate local fears, as well as demonstration projects and policies to test out parking reform concepts with concerned neighbors;
  • Gather, curate and centralize parking data in a clearinghouse to educate the public and policy makers about actual parking needs and supply in a given area; and
  • Find common ground on housing and transportation policies with those seeking to leverage high parking requirements for concessions, such as by creating grants or other incentives for local jurisdictions that actively manage parking to address these conflicts.

The report identifies several planning efforts now taking shape throughout Los Angeles County that could provide a testing ground for these ideas, including the new downtown Santa Monica Plan, Los Angeles' re:code LA and Metro's rollout of Measure M.

The full report can be found here.

A parking garage in Downtown Los Angeles. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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