Parking Strategies by Topic Area

Variations and alternatives to a minimum parking requirement

Establish flexible parking requirements based on:

  • Alternative mode access (especially proximity of transit, but also pedestrian and bicycle facilities)
  • Expected demographics of residential developments (age, income, other auto-ownership factors)
  • Parking studies providing data to support requests to reduce or increase parking
  • Implementation of programs to reduce the need for parking spaces, such as parking cash out, un-bundled parking, shared parking, priority parking for carpools, or car sharing (see parking and transportation demand management)
  • Count on-street parking towards minimum parking requirements (see flexible minimum requirements).
  • Reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements for some or all uses downtown.
  • Allow or require developers to pay into a fund to be used for building public parking rather than providing parking spaces (see fees-in-lieu).
  • Establish maximum allowances for how much parking may be built by use and/or by neighborhood (see parking maximums).
  • Allow or require developers to pave only a portion of the required parking initially, while retaining land sufficient to meet the rest of the requirement as a landscaped reserve, which may be used as a park, playground, garden, etc. until the parking is needed, if ever (see landscaped parking reserves).
  • Encourage shared parking between uses with parking demands peaking at different times of the day, week, or year (see shared parking).

Design strategies to mitigate negative consequences of parking

Hide the parking

Lot design (see mitigating environmental impacts) – encourage or require:

  • Provision of compact car spaces in large parking lot
  • Use of alternatives to paved surfaces for low-traffic parking areas
  • Stormwater management with Low Impact Development techniques in parking areas
  • Shade trees in parking lots to mitigate heat and air quality impacts

Managing the Parking Supply Efficiently

  • Price parking where demand exceeds supply
  • Set the price of parking to recover costs and mitigate parking demand
  • Use revenue from parking meters to pay for costs associated with parking, while ensuring high levels of street and sidewalk maintenance in metered districts (see parking benefit districts)
  • Make payment easy at meters or paid daily/hourly spaces with advanced payment technology
  • Set limits on parking hours or duration to encourage shoppers rather than employees/commuters or vice versa
  • Improve information for motorists on where parking is available to maximize efficiency of existing parking
  • Encourage shared parking between uses with parking demands peaking at different times of the day, week, or year
  • Develop an employee permit parking program to encourage downtown employees to park at the periphery and leave the prime spaces for customers
  • Enforce parking regulations in a way that doesn’t alienate drivers

Address Overflow and Spillover Parking

  • Require or encourage the development of overflow parking plans for special events and peak periods, especially in cases where minimum parking requirements have been lowered
  • Encourage or develop off-site parking for overflow – park and ride lots may serve as off-site lots to access downtowns if shuttle service is provided
  • Develop a residential permit parking program to address potential spillover effects
  • Develop an employee permit parking program to ensure that employees of downtown businesses can park for a full day if they need to drive to work
  • Allow non-residents to buy permits or pay for parking in permit districts, and use the revenue to benefit the district through additional maintenance, etc. (see parking benefit districts)

Strategies to reduce demand for parking

Plan for and prioritize alternative modes through implementation of a Parking and Transportation Demand Management program, including measures such as:

  • Parking cash out programs
  • Providing free or discounted transit passes
  • Priority parking for carpools or vanpools
  • Provision of bike parking and amenities such as lockers and showers
  • Car sharing programs (e.g. Zipcar)
  • Shuttle services from nearby transit stations or satellite parking lots
  • Ride-matching services that help people identify potential carpool or vanpool partners
  • Guaranteed ride home services that allow employees who don’t bring a car to work to get a free ride home (usually via taxi) if they need to stay late, or if they need to leave unexpectedly in the middle of the day
  • Charge for on-street parking in downtown or other busy areas, or increase the cost of parking to reflect the demand for parking (see charging for parking).
  • Charge for student parking at high schools, especially if there is a fee for riding the bus.

Conducting a Parking Study

Paying for Public Parking