“Parking and the City,” the recently published collection of more than 50 articles on parking and parking reform edited by Urban Planning’s Donald Shoup, continues to garner attention, including a review in Parking Today. “Reading a piece by Donald Shoup can be fun, but it will also force you to think about the subject,” writes John Van Horn. “This is a book those in the parking profession should read. It may not solve all of your problems, but it will get you to think about them from a different perspective.”
Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning, authored an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times pondering whether L.A. should allow higher-density housing in single-family neighborhoods near rail transit stations. “Higher density will create more housing and increase transit ridership, but many homeowners view higher density as a bad neighbor,” writes Shoup, explaining that a minor zoning change — graduated density zoning — could bring major public benefits. Graduated density zoning allows for higher density, subject to limits, but also protects homeowners from unwanted development.
“Parking and the City,” a follow-up to Don Shoup’s 2005 publication, “The High Cost of Free Parking” was reviewed recently on the planning-related Planetizen website. “More than just providing an abridged version of ‘The High Cost of Free Parking,’ however, ‘Parking and the City’ passes the torch of parking reform to a new generation of academics, professional planners, and transportation engineers,” writes reviewer James Brasuell. Of the nearly 50 book contributors, 11 are former UCLA Luskin Urban Planning master’s and doctoral students. Meanwhile, other media outlets continue to cite Shoup’s research in stories about the subsidization of parking by cities, including a recent opinion piece by Bloomberg.
A CITYLAB profile of Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor emeritus of urban planning, highlights his career studying parking in the U.S. and his most recent book on the subject, “Parking and the City,” published this year. “It’s been 13 years since my first book, and I think people are surprised by how many cities have been persuaded to follow the recommendations,” said Shoup, referring to his “revolutionary” 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking.” “I’m very happy people are beginning to see the huge benefits of getting parking right.” Shoup also spoke about his new book in a recent KPCC “Take Two” radio segment.
Donald Shoup has a smart fix for New York City’s traffic woes: Sell market-priced parking permits for heavily trafficked parts of the city, then plow that money back into nearby neighborhoods. In a New York Times opinion article, Shoup, UCLA Luskin professor of urban planning and author of “Parking and the City,” writes, “Diverse interests across the political spectrum can find things to like in a parking benefit district.” He argues, “Cities can fairly and efficiently manage their curb space as valuable public real estate. … They can stop subsidizing cars, congestion and carbon emissions, and instead provide better public services.”
Policymakers and professionals need important research to improve our transportation system, but it too often languishes behind the intimidating walls of academia. Transfers Magazine, a new biannual digital publication led by faculty and staff at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, aims to break down those walls by distilling the expert knowledge of scholars into tangible links to action. Donald Shoup and Martin Wachs, distinguished professors of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, serve as senior editors for Transfers. Each issue will feature shorter, more readable versions of peer-reviewed, previously published academic journal articles with the goal of making research accessible to students, policymakers, the press and the general public. Transfers is the flagship publication of the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center (PSR), a research consortium of eight universities in Arizona, California and Hawaii. The inaugural issue was released on May 16 and features new studies from PSR scholars, including UCLA Luskin faculty members Evelyn Blumenberg, Brian D. Taylor, Gregory Pierce and Shoup, on key questions for transportation policy. The issue is now available online, and readers can receive future issues sent directly to their email by subscribing. Between issues, the Transfers staff will connect research updates, student projects, expert opinion and campus news to current events in the transportation world on the The Circulator blog and on Twitter.
By Stan Paul
“A city where everyone happily pays for everyone else’s free parking is a fool’s paradise.”
— Donald Shoup, “Parking and the City”
“Parking is no longer uncool,” says Donald Shoup, whose newly published book, “Parking and the City,” highlights the remarkable interest, implementation of reforms and growth of research that followed his landmark 2005 publication, “The High Cost of Free Parking.”
The new book, by the distinguished research professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, serves as an update to work that has caught the attention of leaders and lawmakers, and proven influential locally, nationally and internationally.
“Parking is the Cinderella of transportation,” writes Shoup in his introduction, explaining that the field received little attention or status for many years. More recently, “many academics have joined in what is now almost a feeding frenzy. … Parking is far too important not to study,” asserts Shoup, who started as a lone pioneer in the field more than four decades ago.
“Parking is the single biggest land use in most cities; there’s more land devoted to parking than there is to housing or industry or commerce or offices,” said Shoup in an interview. Citing “The High Cost of Free Parking,” he reminds readers that Los Angeles has more parking spaces per square mile than any other city.
In his new book, Shoup reiterates and distills the earlier 800-page work into three recommended parking reforms designed to improve cities, the economy and the environment:
- Remove off-street parking requirements
- Charge the right prices for on-street parking
- Spend the parking revenue to improve public services on the metered streets
“Each of these policies supports the other two,” writes Shoup. They counteract what he describes as “three unwisely adopted car-friendly policies” that arose from the beginning of the automobile age: separated land uses, low density, and ample free parking to create drivable cities while undermining walkable neighborhoods.
Shoup persistently advocates for removal of off-street parking requirements, allowing developers and businesses to decide how much parking to provide. Charging the “right price,” or lowest price — varying dynamically throughout the day — that can keep a few spaces open, will allow convenient access, ease congestion, conserve fuel, and reduce pollution caused by unnecessary idling and block-circling. In support of the third point, Shoup hypothesizes, “If everybody sees their meter money at work, the new public services can make demand-based prices for on-street parking politically popular.”
Shoup first wrote about parking in 1975. “I don’t think my ideas have changed at all,” he says. “But, I’ve learned an enormous amount since then.”
As part of his ongoing research, Shoup visits cities, talks to public officials and asks what works and what doesn’t.
“Parking and the City” includes 51 chapters that summarize recent academic research on parking, detailing the experiences of practitioners who charge market prices for on-street parking. In addition, the chapters explain how Shoup’s three recommendations, if followed, “…may be the cheapest, fastest, and simplest way to improve cities, the economy, and the environment, one parking space at a time.”
Among the 46 contributors are 11 former UCLA Luskin Urban Planning master’s and doctoral students who are making their own significant contributions to the field. Former planning student Michael Manville, now an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, contributed four chapters.
“The way cities approach parking has massive consequences for how we travel, how our cities look, and how and where we build housing,” Manville says. “Don saw this before almost anyone else, and pursued it unlike anyone else.”
“What this book showcases is Don’s equal talents as a researcher, mentor and activist. His talents as a researcher are evident in the groundswell of parking research that he inspired. It is safe to say that many of the chapters in this book would not have been written had Don not published “The High Cost of Free Parking.” His talents as a mentor are on display in the number of former students who are doing that research,” Manville says.
“I think they have gone completely in their own direction,” Shoup says of his former students. “I hope I helped in that regard.”
“Parking and the City,” a Planners Press Book, is available through Routledge.
By Les Dunseith
Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, is the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Educator Award — the highest honor bestowed by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP).
The award is conferred every two years to honor significant contributions to the field of planning, and it recognizes scholarly contributions, teaching excellence, public service, and contributions that have made a significant difference to planning scholarship, education, and practice. Shoup is the second current member of the UCLA Urban Planning faculty to win this award; Professor Emeritus Martin Wachs won in 2006 when he was at UC Berkeley. Two other UCLA faculty members also won the award: John Friedmann in 1987, and Harvey Perloff, the inaugural recipient in 1983.
Perloff and Shoup are two of only three people who have won both the ACSP’s Distinguished Educator Award, which is given to academics, and the American Planning Association’s National Excellence Award for a Planning Pioneer, which is given to planners who have made important innovations in planning practice. This unusual combination of both awards highlights UCLA’s commitment to both academic excellence and practical relevance in urban planning.
Shoup said the latest award is particularly gratifying because it’s for education. “Universities reward you mainly for research and publication. It’s why we say, ‘Publish or perish.’ And I think most academics believe their lasting contribution will be their research,” he said. “But I think that our most important contribution is through teaching. If we have any influence — if there is going to be anything to remember after we are gone — I think it will be through the successful careers of our students who will be changing the world for the better.”
Professor Vinit Mukhija, the current chair of Urban Planning, remembers coming to UCLA as a job candidate when Shoup was department chair. Shoup’s manner then became a model for Mukhija to follow years later. “Donald was one of the first people I met on campus. His philosophy is to help people feel comfortable so they can share and present their best ideas. He takes that philosophy into the classroom, where he likes to engage students in a deliberative, non-confrontational manner as they discuss ideas that challenge accepted policy practices.”
During his tenure of more than 40 years at UCLA, Shoup has built an impressive record of accomplishment and scholarship, producing insightful research that has been truly influential on public policy. According to Urban Planning Professor Brian Taylor, Shoup is an “internationally recognized authority on parking policies and their effect on urban development and transportation. Though largely overlooked by academics for years, parking policies significantly influence land use development and travel behavior in U.S. metropolitan areas and in rapidly developing urban areas across the globe.”
“The High Cost of Free Parking,” Shoup’s widely acclaimed book (originally published in 2005, and revised and reprinted in 2011), was based on decades of research on parking policies. It also was based on years of listening.
“When I was younger, I focused much more on analysis and publication. As I began to see how policies got adopted, I became much more oriented toward the concerns of public officials,” Shoup said of how his approach has evolved over the years. “I have always tried to engage with practicing planners and city officials who will have to implement anything that I recommend — to hear their objections and concerns.”
The Distinguished Educator Award is selected from candidates nominated by faculty at ACSP member schools, which consist of universities with departments and programs offering planning degrees or programs that offer degrees affiliated with planning. Most are in the United States, but some member schools are located internationally.
“The conventional wisdom on good parking policy across the world is now defined by Donald’s research. Our students are fortunate to have been involved in the development of these ideas from the start.” — Professor Vinit Mukhija, chair of Urban Planning
The nomination letter included testimonials about Shoup from renowned scholars at UCLA and other universities:
- “… in recent years he has become one of the most widely cited urban planning scholars in the world. … [Shoup] is literally the world’s leading expert in the subject matter on which he specializes while admirably fulfilling all of the other responsibilities of a senior faculty member.” (Martin Wachs, UCLA and UC Berkeley)
- “Don is probably the most creative, original planning scholar who has been at work during the past several decades, and this is certainly so within the field of transportation.” (Alan Altshuler, Harvard University)
- “What impresses me most … is his willingness to take his ideas and writings and be fully engaged in public debate and action over them. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has been one of the most powerful forces in the nation for bringing sanity and good sense to our work with urban communities.” (Michael Dukakis, UCLA, former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential nominee)
- “Over the years I watched him create literally many generations of students who went on to implement his ideas in cities throughout the U.S. and world. It would be difficult indeed to find another scholar who has had as much impact on the practice of urban planning.” (Genevieve Giuliano, University of Southern California)
Shoup’s most important scholarly contribution has been his research related to how parking policies affect land use and urban travel.
Said Taylor, “Through more than three dozen publications on the role of parking in cities, Professor Shoup has almost single-handedly convinced a previously skeptical audience of planners and elected officials about the critical importance of parking policy to urban planning, transforming planning practice to a degree unmatched by any of his contemporaries in the planning academy.”
“The conventional wisdom on good parking policy across the world is now defined by Donald’s research,” Mukhija said. “Our students are fortunate to have been involved in the development of these ideas from the start.”
Shoup said that his research approach tends toward finding solutions to practical problems. “My focus is to look at areas where the prices that people pay are substantially below the cost of what they consume. Traffic congestion is a good example. Drivers in peak hour traffic pay far less than the cost they impose on other drivers and in the process they aggravate traffic congestion.”
His forte — parking policy — is another example. “The price that drivers pay for parking is usually far below the cost of providing it,” Shoup said. “Drivers park free at the end of 99 percent of all automobile trips in the United States. But all this free parking costs a lot of money.”
As his research progressed, he was struck by the lack of equity in parking. People who are too poor to own a car, or who prefer not to own one, receive no benefit.
“If you ride the bus or ride a bike or walk to work, you get nothing. But if you drive to work, you get to park free in a very expensive parking place. It leads to overuse of automobiles, creating air pollution and traffic congestion.”
When cities charge fair market prices for on-street parking and spend the meter revenue to finance added public services, they can improve the lives of everyone. Shoup’s work has inspired cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pasadena, Austin, Houston, Seattle, and many others to change their approach to parking.
Shoup has four degrees in electrical engineering and economics from Yale University. At UCLA he has served as chair of Urban Planning and as director of the Institute of Transportation Studies. And he practices what he preaches — walking or biking to campus every day, even after his “retirement” in 2015.
This dedication comes in part from his perception that he has been fortunate to have worked in Los Angeles, a city where his ideas about land use, traffic, and parking are particularly important and where civic leaders — some of whom count themselves among his legion of followers, known as Shoupistas — have been willing to listen to his advice.
Great city. Great university. Great professor. It all adds up to a career filled with great accomplishments.
By John A. Mathews
The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs brings you a special edition of ACCESS dedicated to the most controversial topic in transportation: parking. Parking invokes immediate emotional responses. We experience joy when a stranger gives us his or her parking spot and rage when someone steals a space we waited 20 minutes for. And what better thrill is there than running to your car to feed the meter just in time to avoid a ticket?
The issues surrounding parking, however, go beyond our immediate reactions. Parking takes up valuable space that could go to better use. It can cause congestion and inflict additional costs on people who can’t even afford to own cars. But parking can also bring social benefits to a community. In this issue, ACCESS explores the good, the bad and the ugly of parking.
Parking as far as the eye can see
Whether you’re building a bar, a hair salon, or a zoo, you will have to build parking spaces to go with it. Now, after decades of development under excessive minimum parking requirements, parking dominates our cities. But how much parking is there really?
In their article, “Do Cities Have Too Much Parking?” Andrew Fraser, Mikhail Chester, Juan Matute and Ram Pendyala explore the distribution of parking in Los Angeles County and how the county’s parking infrastructure evolved over time. The authors found that, as of 2010, Los Angeles County had 18.6 million parking spaces. This amounts to more than 200 square miles of parking, or 14 percent of the county’s incorporated land area. So now the question is: Do we really need all of this parking?
Fraser is a postdoctoral researcher in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. Chester is associate professor in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. Matute is associate director of the Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Pendyala is a professor of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University.
Keeping people from cruising
One possible solution to cruising for parking comes in the form of performance-based pricing, where the rate at the parking meter changes based on demand. The theory is that, with the right price, there will always be one or two empty spaces for drivers to park. Drivers can then park sooner instead of cruising for parking over longer distances, causing additional congestion. But do performance-based pricing programs actually help reduce cruising?
In “Cruising for Parking: Lessons from San Francisco,” Adam Millard-Ball, Rachel Weinberger and Robert Hampshire evaluate whether SFpark, San Francisco’s performance-based pricing initiative, actually reduced cruising. By simulating parking occupancy using parking sensor data, block length, and the probability that a block is full, the authors were able to conclude that SFpark did indeed work. The average cruising distance fell by 50 percent, but people don’t cruise as far as they think.
Millard-Ball is assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Weinberger is a transportation consultant based in New York City. Hampshire is assistant research professor in the Transportation Research Group at the University of Michigan.
Parking theories versus parking practice
The idea is simple: Charge more for parking and you should get more open parking spaces. Charge less for parking and parking spaces should fill up. But does this theory play out in the real world?
In their article, “Market-Priced Parking in Theory and Practice,” Michael Manville and Daniel Chatman evaluate how San Francisco’s market-priced parking program affected parking occupancy and cruising. They found that, when parking prices rose on a block, the block’s “average occupancy rate” for parking fell. The problem, however, is that drivers look for vacant parking spaces, not average occupancy rates. The longer the time included in average parking occupancy rates, the more misleading they can be.
Manville is assistant professor in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Chatman is associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the UC Berkeley.
Making do with less
When you’re in a crowded parking lot trying to get in some holiday shopping, you might think there’s not enough parking. But if you drive around that same parking lot after hours, you can see the vast waste of space that occurs daily.
In his latest article, “Parking Management for Smart Growth,” Rick Willson asks how we can transition from too much parking to a more efficient use of a smaller parking supply. He argues that transportation demand management can reduce parking demand by encouraging drivers to carpool, walk, bike, or take public transit. Parking management strategies can further reduce the number of parking spaces needed through increased space efficiency. The use of sensors and sophisticated pricing meters can ensure open parking spots and help drivers find them.
Willson is professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
London changes its parking requirements
Do we build so much parking because it’s needed or because it’s required? Parking theorists say that the market would provide fewer parking spaces if parking requirements did not exist. The evidence of this has been inconclusive, however, until now.
In his article, “From Parking Minimums to Parking Maximums in London,” Zhan Guo evaluates what happened after London reversed its parking requirements in 2004. The city removed the previous minimum parking requirements and instead adopted new maximum requirements for all metropolitan developments. What’s interesting is that the new maximum parking limits were often lower than the previous minimum requirements. What’s even more interesting is that most developments provided far less than the maximum limit allowed. This means that, with the previous minimum parking requirements, London was requiring far more parking than the market demanded.
Guo is associate professor of Urban Planning and Transportation Policy at the Wagner School of Public Service, New York University.
Parking: the new beachfront property
Many commercial areas have implemented Parking Benefit Districts that spend meter revenue for public services in the metered areas. But can Parking Benefit Districts work in purely residential neighborhoods as well?
In his article, “Parking Benefit Districts,” Donald Shoup argues that a residential Parking Benefit District can manage on-street parking and provide a neighborhood with revenue to clean and repair sidewalks, plant trees, and remove grime from subway stations. He also argues that residential Parking Benefit Districts can help unbundle the cost of parking from the cost of housing to create more affordable housing. If cities manage their curb parking as valuable real estate, they can stop subsidizing cars, congestion, pollution, and carbon emissions, and instead provide better public services and more affordable housing.
Shoup is editor of ACCESS and Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.
ACCESS Magazine is edited by Donald Shoup, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, Emeritus, at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
SPRING 2016 Contents:
Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth
If you were a hybrid vehicle owner and you were driving down the freeway, would you know the best time to use gas and the best time to use the battery? Probably not, and most hybrid cars don’t know either. In fact, most plug-in hybrids just deplete their battery completely before switching to gas, which is actually an inefficient use of energy.
In “Going the Extra Mile: Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles,” Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth explore how hybrids can better manage battery use to get an extra five to ten miles out of each gallon of gas. By incorporating real-time information on where a car is, where it’s going, traffic levels, incline, and a host of other variables, an intelligent management strategy can save fuel and reduce emissions by 10 to 12 percent.
Megan S. Ryerson and Amber Woodburn
Imagine you’re at the airport and the security checkpoint is crowded. You finally reach your gate but your flight is delayed because the runway is full. “Why don’t they build more runways?” you ask, but maybe that’s not the right question.
In their article, “Manage Flight Demand or Build Airport Capacity?” Megan Ryerson and Amber Woodburn discuss two ways to manage air traffic congestion: adding runways or shifting flights through demand management. Often local governments and airport authorities think that airport expansion equates to economic development even though there is little research to back this theory. Meanwhile, demand management strategies, like congestion pricing, aren’t even considered as an option to reduce air traffic congestion. Why is this the case — and should our priorities change?
A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity
Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce
Does living in a wealthier area mean you’ll get a better job? Or any job? The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Program was an experiment that provided housing vouchers to low-income households, some of whom had to use the vouchers in wealthier neighborhoods. The research showed, however, that the location of the housing vouchers had no effect on employment. So what did affect employment?
In “A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity,” Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce show that employment in the MTO program was affected most by access to transportation. They discovered that, while transit access was associated with maintaining employment, having a car was associated with maintaining and even gaining employment over time. The results suggest that policies to promote car access may be the best way to connect low-income workers with jobs.
Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman
Have you ever seen a moose hitching a ride so that he could continue roaming several miles from where he started? Neither have I. But when governments approve transportation projects, they often offset the environmental costs by preserving dispersed tracts of land, sometimes hundreds of miles from each other. Instead of preserving several pieces of land in different areas, wouldn’t it be better to preserve large connected expanses?
In their recent article, “Investing in Transportation while Preserving Fragile Environments,” Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman discuss regional mitigation efforts through the use of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). HCPs include a list of transportation projects, their potential biological impacts, and ways to mitigate such impacts on a broad scale. By bundling mitigation requirements, transportation projects can save time, money, and habitats.
How many parking spaces should be required for each house? Each restaurant? Each zoo? Most developers have to adhere to “minimum parking requirements,” but those requirements are often created without any research into what the market actually demands.
In his article, “Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements,” Donald Shoup argues that we should remove minimum parking requirements because they’re creating vast expanses of empty parking lots instead of the walkable neighborhoods we all desire. And the cost of these parking spaces is shocking. A single parking space can cost more to build than the net worth of many American households, yet those households end up sharing the cost burden of parking requirements. It may not solve every injustice, but reducing or removing minimum parking requirements can be a step towards a more equitable society.
There’s a way to get to work that actually reduces your stress levels, has no traffic, and lets you skip the gym at the end of the day. We’re talking about the latest — and sweatiest — trend in commuting: the run commute.
In his article, “Running to Work,” Robert Cervero explores this new form of active travel that’s taking congested cities by storm. But what would make someone want to run all the way into work? In a survey of run commuters ¾ and by trying it himself ¾ Cervero finds that these vehicle-less travelers benefit most from being outdoors, reducing stress, cutting down on costs, and saving time by exercising during their commute. Of course, there are challenges as well, such as the logistics of getting clean clothes to the office. But if employers can help encourage run-commuting with some on-site showers and a free breakfast, their employees will be healthier for it.