Manville Explains Why Freeways Are Congested Again

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, was cited in a Mercury News article about heavy traffic congestion on Bay Area freeways even though many jobs remain remote. The COVID-19 pandemic as well as remote and hybrid work schedules opened up highways and roads, which encouraged people to drive more until highways were once again full. “Traffic congestion is not only annoying — it acts as a deterrent,” Manville said. “If traffic goes down, then people are going to see the freeway is empty and get into the car and go somewhere else.” He explained that even though Californians are commuting less, there are still many reasons for them to continue driving on freeways. Some solutions to this issue are to break the habit of solo driving by encouraging people to use public transportation more often or by enforcing congestion fees to discourage people from driving at peak hours.


After Years of Study, Parking Reform Gaining Ground

A Wall Street Journal piece on the growing number of U.S. cities rethinking the amount of space set aside for parking cited several UCLA Luskin experts. The article highlighted research by Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, that found that a 1999 ordinance exempting builders from adding new parking spots in downtown Los Angeles allowed them to add more residential units at a lower cost. Another study by Gregory Pierce, now co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, and C.J. Gabbe, currently a visiting scholar at the center, found that costs associated with parking mandates are often passed on to consumers through higher rents or retail prices, even as many of the spots go unused. Donald Shoup, the urban planning scholar who pioneered the field of parking research, summed up the efforts to reform parking policies: “The Dutch have reclaimed land from the sea, and I think we can reclaim land from parking.”


Manville on Feasibility of San Jose’s New Parking Plan

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, was cited in a Mercury News article about an initiative to deprioritize parking in San Jose to accommodate more housing. San Jose, known for its suburban sprawl, is very car dependent. In an effort to increase retail spaces and housing, transportation advocates are pushing for scaled-down parking garages and more street parking restrictions. Manville said the impact of these measures may not be immediate or dramatic, though over time the city may see a little less parking paired with more housing. He added that investors may be hesitant to finance projects with less parking in a region that has been so reliant on cars. “The key is, do you have a market in mind of people who are willing to walk a block or two to get their car?” Manville said.


Manville on the Benefits of Removing Parking Mandates

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, was cited in an Urban Land article on the recent push to relax parking mandates in multifamily developments. In a paper presented to the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate on the benefits of removing parking mandates, Manville wrote, “A sizable [amount of] research literature suggests they undermine housing affordability, encourage driving, and discourage walking and public transit use.” Removing these requirements will help California meet its affordability and sustainability goals, he said. It will also increase different types of housing that have been limited as a result of current parking mandates, including street-front townhomes, bungalow courts, garden apartments and more. Manville said it is important to retain some parking but suggested removing it from housing units. Instead, developers could lease underused storage spaces from nearby garages or offer car-share membership to residents.


On the Clear, Practical and Revolutionary Work of Don Shoup

Donald Shoup’s travels down paths that other academics overlooked have profoundly changed the way we understand cities, and inspired a viable movement to improve them. That’s the message of an essay published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research that offers a personal glimpse into the life and scholarship of Shoup, the distinguished professor whose research has shed light on the consequences of misguided parking policies. The essay is written by Michael Manville, his colleague on the UCLA Luskin Urban Planning faculty, who describes Shoup as the unique academic who offers practical, specific solutions to policy puzzles. His work has led to a “monumental act of reform” in California, a new law abolishing parking requirements within half a mile of transit. “What truly sets Don apart is his relentless pursuit of clarity,” Manville writes. “Don has shown that when we give people knowledge, they will use it, and the world will, in small steps, get better.” 


Manville on Proven Strategies to Improve Transportation

News outlets from around the country turn to Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, for insight into transit and land use issues. Manville spoke to the Los Angeles Times about a question Mayor Karen Bass must consider: Should train and bus rides be free? History shows that this strategy to increase ridership on public transit can work, Manville said. In the San Diego region, a $160-billion plan to expand the rail system includes road charges that will levy a per-mile fee on drivers. “If you design the road-user charge correctly, some of the biggest beneficiaries will be drivers,” Manville told the San Diego Union-Tribune. In Kentucky, an attempt to ease congestion by adding lanes to highways is misguided, he said. “The typical highway widening project has costs that exceed its benefits and probably shouldn’t be done,” Manville told Louisville Public Media, noting that adding tolls is the only proven way to consistently reduce congestion.


Manville Says Removing Parking Mandate Will Bolster State’s Affordable Housing Stock

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, writes about California’s recent reduction of parking requirements at many housing developments in the November newsletter about real estate and economic issues distributed by UCLA Anderson Forecast and the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. He says that Assembly Bill 2097 is an important step in addressing how parking mandates undermine housing affordability and encourage people to drive more, while discouraging them from walking or using public transit. AB 2097 is unlikely to result in a wave of new housing being built without parking. Instead, eliminating mandatory parking requirements will allow for housing to be built on some parcels where it would have previously been infeasible. “Losing a few housing units here and there, or even the occasional parcel, may not seem like a big deal,” Manville writes. “Multiplied over many years and many thousands of parcels, however, these small losses add up.”


Manville on Bay Area’s Housing Dilemma

Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, spoke to Courthouse News about the current housing crisis in the Bay Area. Affordable housing for middle- and low-income families is scarce, especially in the East Bay, in part because investors are outbidding traditional homeowners to buy multiple single-family homes. In addition, cities are simply are not building enough housing to meet demand. Manville commented on the city of Berkeley’s report on housing, saying, “Institutional investors like to buy in the Bay Area because the Bay Area doesn’t build housing. These companies feed off scarcity.” He added, “Berkeley needs more housing. The main way to keep it affordable is to build new housing so rich people don’t buy it up.”


A Solution to Increasing Traffic Concerns

The Boston Globe spoke to Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, about the reasons traffic has remained heavy despite the widespread move to remote work during the pandemic. Manville explained that while many people are no longer commuting to work in the morning, they still have errands to run and children to drop off at school. “What really never changed was the idea in people’s heads that ‘when there is a place to go, I drive there,'” he said. A solution he suggests is pricing the roads similar to how airlines are priced to help combat increasing traffic congestion. During peak commute times like early mornings, Manville says roads should be priced higher than at late nights. He believes that, similar to water and electricity, roads are a public good but we don’t typically run out of water or electricity because they are priced.


Celebrating an End to a ‘Slow-Moving Disaster’

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to the Los Angeles Times about California’s new law barring local governments from mandating parking spaces as part of most development near transit stops. “This is one of the biggest land-use reforms in the country,” Manville said after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2097 into law. “Parking requirements have been an absolutely slow-moving disaster,” Manville said. “We are turning the ship around.” News outlets including StreetsBlog, Bloomberg CityLab and Mother Jones credited research by Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning, with laying the groundwork for AB 2097. Shoup’s decades of scholarship pointed out the faulty and arbitrary reasoning behind parking requirements, whose unintended consequences have included raising the cost of of housing and commercial development, creating incentives to drive instead of using transit, and increasing emissions.