Many cities have adopted minimum parking requirements, but we have relatively poor information about how parking infrastructure has grown.
In this research, using building and roadway growth models, we estimate how parking has grown in Los Angeles County from 1900 to 2010, and how parking infrastructure evolves, affects urban form, and relates to changes in automobile travel.
We find that since 1975, the ratio of residential offstreet parking spaces to automobiles in Los Angeles County is close to 1.0 and the greatest density of parking spaces is in the urban core. Most new growth in parking occurs outside of the core. 14% of incorporated land in Los Angeles County is committed to parking. Uncertainty in our space inventory is attributed to our building growth model, onstreet space length, and the assumption that parking spaces were created as per the requirements.
The continued use of minimum parking requirements is likely to encourage automobile use at a time when metropolitan areas are actively seeking to manage congestion and increase transit use, biking, and walking. Widely discussed ways to reform parking policies may be less than effective if planners do not consider the remaining incentives to auto use created by the existing parking infrastructure. Planners should encourage the conversion of existing parking facilities to alternative uses.
Mikhail Chester is an assistant professor in civil, environmental, and sustainable engineering at Arizona State University. His research focuses on i) the energy and environmental life cycle impacts of infrastructure systems, with an emphasis on transportation, and ii) the resilience of infrastructure systems to climate change. Chester is leading several studies to investigate how the design of infrastructure is vulnerable to heat waves, how the design of infrastructure contributes to social vulnerability to heat, and how we can prepare infrastructure to be resilient to extreme weather events. This includes projects that assess the capacity losses in electricity supply and transmission, urban electricity demand increases, vulnerability propagation between water and electricity systems, and reliability of electricity to public transit systems. Prior to ASU, Chester was a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and a post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. He received his Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2008 and M.S. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2003. He received his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon in 2002 with a double major in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy.