Shared Parking

Parking Spaces Serving Multiple Masters

Shared parking means that a parking facility serves multiple destinations. This requires multiple destinations within walking distance of the same parking facility, and is most effective when those destinations either share patrons, so that people park once and visit multiple destinations, or have different periods when parking demand is highest. Shared parking is usually an intrinsic part of downtown settings where there is public parking because the same parking facility serves many different destinations within walking distance (promoting public rather than private parking facilities is covered further under fees-in-lieu). Shared parking is also effective in mixed use developments, either when there is a mix of uses on a single site or when sites with different uses are located suitably close together. One example of this is an office building sharing parking with a restaurant or movie theater, since most of the office workers (and their cars) will be gone in the evenings when there is the most demand for parking from the restaurant or theater. A table showing typical peak parking periods of various land uses is below [1].

Land Uses by Time of Peak Parking Demand Weekday Evening Weekend

Land Uses by Time of Peak Parking and Demand
Weekday Evening Weekend
Banks and public services

Offices and other employment centers

Park & Ride facilities

Schools, daycare centers and colleges

Factories and distribution centers

Medical clinics

Professional services


Bars and dance halls

Meeting halls




Religious institutions


Shops and malls

This table indicates peak parking demand for different land use types. Parking can be shared efficiently by land uses with different peaks.

By allowing for and encouraging shared parking, planners in communities with minimum parking requirements can reduce the required number of parking spaces for mixed use developments or single-use developments in mixed-use areas. Establishing the number of spaces required in a shared parking situation requires consideration of a number of factors:

  • The physical layout of the development (especially ease of pedestrian access from the parking spaces to the different uses);
  • The type of users typically parking at each type of facility, and their parking patterns (e.g. employees who park for a full day vs. customers who park for an hour or two); and
  • The total accumulation of parked vehicles expected for each use during different time periods.

Many shared parking regulations use the method below to determine the minimum number of spaces required for a shared parking facility (view an example):

  1. Determine the minimum amount of parking required for each land use or destination by time period as if it were a separate use
  2. Sum the number of required parking spaces in each time period across all uses
  3. Set the minimum requirement at the maximum total across time periods.

Others allow the parties sharing the parking to determine the appropriate number of spaces. The Urban Land Institute has published a report entitled Shared Parking, which offers analytic methods and time-of-day parking utilization curves for local governments and developers to calculate parking needs for specific projects.

One challenge with shared parking is working out an agreement between land owners or developers if the uses are not all on the same property. The municipality may wish to provide a model agreement that the parties can use (see Portland, OR example below).

Local examples:
  • The City of Marlborough allows shared parking in all districts for uses with different peak periods, allowing reductions of up to one-half of the minimum parking required for the uses separately. The city requires documentation of the reduced parking demand as well as additional provision of open space for each parking space not provided as a result of shared parking.
  • In the City of Waltham, the parking requirement for any mixed use parcel or building is calculated based on the method given above. The ordinance provides the time table of parking requirements by use.
  • The Town of Stoneham allows shared parking by special permit with the approval of the Planning Board. Up to 50% of required spaces may be shared with uses having different operating hours. The parties must sign a joint use agreement.
National examples:

Metro, the regional governmental agency for Portland, Oregon, developed a handbook on shared parking for their region, including a model shared parking bylaw and a model shared parking agreement. While parts of it are specific to Oregon, much of it provides a useful template for developing a shared parking bylaw generally. Download:

Additional Resources:

  1. Todd Litman, Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation, and Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, April 2006; p. 12. Available as a free download from or by clicking here.
  2. Mary S. Smith, et al., Shared Parking Second Edition (2005). Available for purchase from the Urban Land Institute Bookstore (
  3. Stein Engineering, Shared Parking Handbook, Portland Metro, January 1997. Click here for the PDF.
  4. Victoria Transport Policy Institute, “Shared Parking”, Online TDM Encyclopedia:
  5. Maryland Governor’s Office of Smart Growth, Driving Urban Environments: Smart Growth Parking Best Practices, March 2006; p. 6-7. Available as a free download
  6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Parking Spaces / Community Places: Finding the Balance Through Smart Growth Solutions, January 2006; p. 18-20. Available as a download
  7. Georgia Quality Growth Partnership, “Shared Parking”, Quality Growth Toolkit:
  8. Institute of Transportation Engineers, Shared Parking Planning Guidelines (1995). Available for purchase from ITE
  9. Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc., Northwest Connecticut Parking Study – Phase II: Model Zoning Regulations for Parking for Northwestern Connecticut, Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments and Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials, September 2003; p. 21-22. Available as a free download from… or by clicking here.
  10. Christopher V. Forinash, et al., “Smart Growth Alternatives to Minimum Parking Requirements”, Proceedings from the 2nd Urban Street Symposium, July 28-30, 2003. Available as a free download from or click here for the PDF.
  11. American Planning Association, Smart Codes: Model Land Use Regulations: Model Shared Parking Ordinance. Available from American Planning Association.