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Press Release: Is Metro Boston Building Too Much Parking?

Boston – Parking is a hotly-debated across Metro Boston, with little hard data about how many off-street spaces already exist in the region, and how many we need to build in order to meet future demand – until now.

A new project at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in Boston, “Perfect Fit Parking,” is taking a closer look at just how much parking we’ve built, and how much is actually being used, and aims to equip local planners with the information they need to craft sustainable, data-driven parking plans and policies for the future of every city and town.

Using an on-the-ground, middle-of-the-night counting strategy, MAPC staff assessed 80 developments in five municipalities — Arlington, Chelsea, Everett, Malden and Melrose — finding that one quarter of the available spaces were empty overnight, representing a tremendous waste of space and money. The analysis showed the amount of parking supplied per unit was the most influential variable when determining the amount of parking utilized per unit – meaning, in other words, that “if you build it, they will come.”

As trends point to decreased or delayed auto ownership across the Greater Boston region, but especially in the Inner Core around Boston, stagnant or out-of-date parking requirements mean lots of excess parking is being constructed – a costly mistake that gobbles land better used for parks, open space, and development of more affordable housing.

While Phase I of “Perfect Fit Parking” looked at five cities and towns, MAPC will conduct future studies in Boston, Cambridge, and other nearby communities, and collectively these findings will inform an online tool communities can use to compare information about parking trends in similar municipalities and better align their parking policies with real demand.

The full report is available at perfectfitparking.mapc.org.

For more information, call MAPC Transportation Director Eric Bourassa at 617-933-0740 or email ebourassa@mapc.org.