Marohn’s answer is surprisingly simple: Parking.
“Cities have to get rid of parking minimums,” he said. “Storing cars is super inefficient.”
In December 2018, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to get rid of parking minimums, a zoning legislation that requires newly built housing developments to provide parking spaces for its residents. Environmentalists are heralding this as a major win for a future that’s less dependent on cars.
Marohn calls parking minimums “an outdated, strange and unscientific law” languishing in the zoning laws of most major American cities. According to this Vox explainer, there are approximately eight parking spots for every car in the country, with the spaces covering 30 percent of our cities’ land area.
Marohn says these parking lots are useless space, taking up a lot of room but adding no value nor collecting significant tax revenue. “It sounds boring,” he said, but he calls on citizens to be aware that parking minimums have significantly shaped the way we build our cities — and not for the better.
For homeowners, Marohn says, parking minimums are a hindrance to building a small rental unit that might give them much-needed, extra revenue. For small business owners, paying for parking lots means spending less on their own business. And for developers, it’s a lost opportunity to build more homes instead of being mandated to use resources for parking lots.