Parking, and often free or low-cost parking, is a standard in Los Angeles. However, some experts say the city has an excess of parking spaces and is usurping land that could otherwise be used for greater and better use. In a city where there is a lack of available development sites, many owners are rethinking parking and even planning it anew.
“While plenty of free parking seems to go hand in hand with LA's deeply rooted auto culture, our sense of parking permits comes at a high price. Outdated parking codes increase development costs and negatively affect residents and users, ultimately leading to neglected public transport, higher living costs, irreversible pollution and housing shortages. " Jake Radeski, Account Manager at betatells GlobeSt.com. "Land reserved for over-parking is a missed opportunity to build something functional and creates wasted space that could be reclaimed to improve our urban landscapes."
The park usage statistics in LA are staggering. Radeski notes a report in the Journal of American Planning Association that estimates 14% of the land in Los Angeles is dedicated to parking – approximately 18.6 million spaces for the county's estimated 5.6 million cars. "Valuable real estate is used to essentially store cars," he says. The problem of land availability and overparking has become increasingly debated in light of the growing real estate crisis in California.
Building regulations fuel the oversupply of parking spaces and restrict new developments. "A typical parking requirement in LA is one parking lot per 100 square feet for a restaurant, coffee shop, or coffee shop," says Radeski. "This means that a 2,000 square meter restaurant needs 20 parking spaces. If the average parking space requires 330 square meters of land, the parking space is more than three times the size of the restaurant itself."
It makes sense to need the necessary parking spaces for new projects, but often parking requirements do not need to be aligned between uses. “While commercial parking requirements make sense in theory, on a deeper level they can prove to be arbitrary,” adds Radeski. “West Hollywood mandates that laundromats have 0.5 parking spaces per washing machine. Huntington Park mini golf courses must have 3 stands per hole. The parking requirements are too subjective to achieve a clear benefit, limit the benefits of valuable real estate and increase the costs for tenants and users. "
These requirements also make it difficult to create density and experience in a project. “The large amount of land devoted solely to surface-level parking is pushing buildings apart, making it difficult to walk from building to building and making driving easier. From the retailer's point of view, oversized parking spaces in urban landscapes reduce the accessibility, which disrupts the flow of customers and the synergies in retail, ”says Radeski.
Now, owners and cities are adopting more walk-in spaces and using excess parking space where they can. “The city of Santa Monica has benefited from the fact that there are no parking requirements for new developments in the downtown Bay Side District,” says Radeski. “This creates a more walkable shopping area and offers retailers and restaurants the opportunity to occupy spaces that they would otherwise not be able to use due to the parking requirements. Additionally, the introduction of electric scooters in Santa Monica gives visitors increased mobility, eliminating the need for parking stands. "
Retailers Invesco and Lowe are two owners who are re-evaluating parking. "Invesco, owner of Runway Playa Vista, plans to close part of the project to vehicle traffic in order to improve the accessibility of the project and to further activate the shop fronts," says Radeski. "In Culver City, Lowe's walk-through Ivy Station project is a master-planned mixed-use development that is adjacent to a light rail station."
These changes illustrate a change in the conversation and culture surrounding parking in Los Angeles. “Municipalities have the opportunity to recycle some of the most valuable unused real estate by adapting to our changing culture to keep up with the challenges of urban real estate,” adds Radeski.