Can Miami Develop Now with Less Parking

From Miami Urbanist:

Miami’s excessively high minimum parking requirements can prevent a great project from moving forward. A developer may have a brilliant idea for a site, but if he or she cannot accommodate parking within the footprint of the site the project will likely not break ground. The sad truth is that parking dictates development in Miami and minimum parking requirements have a significant negative impact on the development of our city.

Livable Places gives a great summary of the problems created with minimum parking requirements.  Below you will also find some of their suggested “Smart” solutions for dealing with parking.

The Problems with Minimum Parking Requirements

Creates excess parking
Minimum parking requirements are usually set arbitrarily by city planners from standardized transportation planning manuals, which typically measure parking and trip generation rates in suburban areas at peak periods with ample free parking and no public transit. These parking standards can cause an oversupply of parking – taking up valuable land and lowering the price of parking below cost.

Promotes automobile use
Providing plentiful and free parking encourages automobile use and discourages walking, cycling and transit use. Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA recognized as a leading scholar on parking issues, compares minimum parking requirements that mandate excessive off-street parking to “fertility drugs for cars.” By generating more car trips, inefficient parking requirements contribute to increased air pollution and reduced physical activity.

Increases the cost of development
Requiring developers to provide large amounts of off-street parking significantly adds to the cost of new development, especially in urban areas where land costs are high. These costs are typically passed to consumers, through higher housing prices and rents. 

Average development cost of parking (excluding land)

Type of parking facility


Surface lot $2,000
Multi-level above ground $10,000
Subterranean $20,000


“Smart” Solutions for Dealing with Parking

Reduce minimum parking standards
Urban planners need to re-examine parking demand in urban areas where land and parking costs are higher, and transportation alternatives exist. Reducing minimum parking requirements will help to create more livable communities by reducing the abundant supply of free parking and encouraging transit use.

Establish maximum parking requirements near major transit stops
In areas well served by transit, planners should consider the use of maximum parking requirements to limit the amount of off-street parking built. These requirements prevent auto-oriented uses from occupying land near rail and bus stations, and encourage the creation of transit-oriented districts, or transit villages.

Unbundle the cost of parking in residential projects
Typically, the cost of parking is included in the home price or rent of a condominium or apartment. Unbundling the cost of parking from housing costs allows off-street parking to be priced in response to the actual demand for parking, and lets consumers pay the cost of their transportation choices.

Shared parking
Shared parking is an effective tool for reducing the number of parking spaces needed for a project or neighborhood. Shared parking strategies can be implemented within a new mixed-use development, through simple agreements between adjacent, or through a parking management district. Parking districts can also encourage pedestrian activity by encouraging people to park once and walk from destination to destination.

Car Sharing
Car sharing programs allow many individuals to share access to a vehicle. Located within a housing development, car sharing can lower the average household vehicle ownership rate, reducing the demand for parking. Several car sharing companies are starting to partner with housing developers to include car sharing programs within their new developments.

Thankfully ULI will host an event on July 19th to discuss this very important issue that  affects all of us and the future development of our city. Please forward this event notice to your city commissioners and your developer friends. It’s really important that they attend this event. Click here to signup.









15 Responses to Can Miami Develop Now with Less Parking?

  1. Prem Barbosa says:

    let’s ask south beach about minimum parking, and who really wins and loses when developers don’t have to provide adequate parking for patrons.
    Downtown is no exception.
    Spending $20 to park your car is no fun way to start the night for the working class of Miami who has to work several hours to pay for that.

    While adequately payed urban planners hold their breath for sufficient public transit, developers and the city government builds a city for the wealthy and privileged.
    Wish I could attend the panel and ask a few questions about the effects on those who have to drive but can’t afford to keep up with the increasing infrastructural costs of doing so


  2. Miami Residents drive themselves says:

    It has been stated that less than 4% of Miami-Dade residents use public transportation. Perhaps less than 1% of Miami-Dade residents who make over $75,000 per year use public transportation. The last time the Voters approved bond money to improve public transportation infrastructure Miami-Dade County executives spent all the money to hire more friends and family. The money was wasted.


  3. Darren Davis says:

    It’s important to understand a few things - unbundling parking means that potential homeowners can choose whether or not to have a parking space with a real trade off: money vs car park space. This in turn can help housing affordability as people are not forced to have parking space(s) they mayn’t need or are willing to trade off for other things. In my case, I don’t own a car but am forced to have a parking space in my apartment complex which sits empty.

    Another thing is that not having minimum parking standards can mean that all modes of transport benefit, including car drivers. While I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation in Miami, a case in point is my home town of Auckland, New Zealand. We are still quite a car-oriented city but our city centre has no minimum parking requirement and a strict maximum of one space per 200 sq m (2,153 sq ft). Queen Street, our premium retail street, allows absolutely no off-street parking at all as that would require vehicle crossings in an area where there are three times as many pedestrians as vehicles. The result: most building provide substantially less parking than the maximun (generally only enough for the very top brass) and quite a number of office buildings provide no parking at all. The impacts: in the last decade public transit, walking and cycling to the city centre has risen by a third while car trips have barely moved. The ironic impact of this change is that the city centre is actually easier to access by all modes, including cars because of the significant mode shift generated by the parking maximums. This mode shift has allowed for more frequent bus, train and ferry services (some bus services run every 3 minutes at peak) and allowed a number of formerly car-dominated streets to be converted into shared spaces where pedestrians have absolute priority. No one is stopped from driving into the city centre (and as noted above driving is actually easier because of the mode shift) but it costs around $17 per day to park all day. The increasing transit frequencies make transit a much more attractive option, generating additional patronage, and helping to create a virtuous circle. By the way, Queen Street, with absolutely no off-street parking, commands the highest rents of any retail area in New Zealand.

    One final point is that our city centre parking is capped at the ability of the city centre road network to deal with the traffic generation. If minimum parking requirements take no cognisance of this, you are just encouraging traffic to occupy unpriced scarce space which slows everyone down, including the car drivers themselves.


  4. Great observation and comment Darren. We would be much better off with parking maximums and as a result we have overbuilt parking in downtown Miami and Brickell due to minimum parking requirements.

    Also, there has got to be a better way to more effectively manage/share our oversupply of parking in the CBD. Residential parking spaces sit empty during the day and office parking spaces sit empty at night and vice versa.


  5. Timoteo says:

    Can Miami Develop with Less Parking?

    …at the end of the bottom is a description of how to park and prices. No mention of Metrorail or Metrobus. Fail.

    I think that answers the question asked by the ULI. This city needs a more extensive Metrorail for it to start becoming a viable mode for many Miamians.


  6. Timoteo says:

    That said, however, I think parking maximums are long overdue in Downtown/Brickell. There’s a new (and growing) demographic of Miamians that are choosing to live in Downtown/Brickell because they don’t need a car to get to work and can live without it.


  7. Timoteo,

    There is no doubt that more and proper public transit is needed. However, min. parking requirements facilitates auto dependency. If parking weren’t as easily accessible and more expensive, demand for transit would sky rocket. We can’t just keep building parking, there is just so much capacity our road can take.


  8. Darren Davis says:

    Felipe your point is well made. In Auckland, we actually achieved a 59% increase in peak transit use to our downtown in the past decade (better than the 33% quoted in my previous post/ I got some figures muddled). We didn’t achieve this by sitting on our behinds but by a range of projects such as bringing rail back to the city centre (2003), the Northern Busway (in stages 2005 & 2008), and major bus priority measures such as the Central Connector. Most major bus corridors in the city centre and approaches have bus priorities ranging from peak-hour/peak direction bus lanes through to 24 hour bus lanes. The result is that key approach corridors such as Fanshawe Street have a peak transit mode share of 65% in one third of the road space (cars do the remaining one third in two thirds of the road space). There are also demand side initiatives such as discounting tertiary student fares by 40% - the city university campuses have 57% of all student trips on transit, 20% by walking and less than 20% by car. So it’s a bit of carrot (improved transit, walking, cycling options) and a bit of stick (paid parking market and strict parking supply limits) that work together. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want more info as a case study.


  9. Urban Planner says:

    Planning began as a profession to protect residents from adverse effects of development and industry. We can not just throw everything away because a tiny tiny tiny minority of an area may be able to survive without a particular item like parking.

    I agree with shared parking ratios, I agree with unbundling parking from condos, apartments, etc; BUT you still have to respect the family in nearby single family homes that doe not want the overflow traffic, parking, beer cans, etc Similarly, look at downtown Miami where there is no parking requirement for residential, has shared parking and some of the lowest ratios in the region and you will see 98% of developers, extra parking voluntarily and 90% of garages are never full, and even required visitor parking is not provided for free leading to high priced valet.

    This is only for the rich that can afford $20 valet, extra spaces… The REAL PROBLEM IS NOT THE PARKING- IT’S THE LACK OF TRANSIT!!! If every new development was required to buy a transit card for each unit, add electric car chargers, add convenient bicycle parking, and dedicate spaces to car sharing vehicles you would see the result you are after to reduce car ownership to 1/ unit family and subsequently improve the architecture of the city, improve the scale, improve the developers bottom line and improve transit, bike and ped facilities.

    Don’t throw out parking. Change the behavior and offer options instead. Many areas outside our urban core and nodes will never remove parking and that’s ok- it’s everyone’s choice to live where they feel is best for them. Offer opportunities not remove all regulation and oversight.


  10. Urban Planner,
    I agree with 99% of your comments. I don’t think anyone is advocating for throwing out parking entirely. You’re right lack of proper mass transit is at the heart of the problem, but we can also make a chicken or egg argument here as well. If we make driving a less desirable option, demand for mass transit would increase. Maybe, just maybe, some of our politicians in Miami can wake up to this fact. Btw I sent an email to all of the city commissioners last week inviting them to the ULI event-lets hope some of them show up!


  11. Miami Residents need parking says:

    Residents cannot find affordable public parking. Buildings are being approved with little or NO parking further magnifying a problem. With almost no public transportation, obviously, people need vehicles to get to work and play.


  12. Developers are being forced to provide parking due to minimum parking requirements. Minimum parking requirements are driving up housing costs. We should let the market decide whether parking is needed. Instead of parking minimums we should have parking maximums. We also desperately need more public transit.


  13. Prem Barbosa says:

    “Residents cannot find … public parking”
    I live in a community in NE dade developed 40 years ago for retirees 55+. You can imagine the different parking needs now that many families live in these condos instead of retirees.
    Other than an H the nearest bus stop is more than half a mile away.

    Parking in my building is a nightmare. My mother and I share a car between us but some condos have three cars! I can’t have guests over because there’s nowhere for them to park. They’re not going to take a bus and walk half a mile to have dinner at my place.


  14. Buildings with no parking cause problems says:

    Many condos on South Beach have little narrow parking spaces that are so narrow people cannot park and get in or out of their cars. But they cannot park on the street either AND public parking might be a 20 minute walk away PLUS a $18 fee.


  15. If only 4% of trips are made using public transit, why don’t we stop wasting billions of dollars on public transport boondoggles and improve our roads instead?

    90%+ of people use our roads and yet I see the results of underinvestment in roads every time I visit Miami. Up here in Palm Beach County they have hardly any public transport, but a superb road network that actually supports the majority of people who drive.

    Expensive and difficult parking in many parts of Miami makes it very difficult for the 90% to move around. Perhaps the 4% that use public transport are happy, but I somehow doubt it. Whenever I have used public transport, I’ve found it unpleasant to use, uncomfortable, slow and expensive. Seems to me that’s not how we want our city to go. Because of this, I think the parking requirements urban planners want are sensible. More free parking means more money to spend on businesses and less on parking. If I have to spend $7.50 to park to go to a $10 nightclub, that doesn’t make much sense, does it? The club nets less than Miami Parking Authority!

    I love Miami’s urban amenities and people, but don’t understand why you waste so much on public transport projects nobody uses. If you put the same money into the roads, you would make our crazy drivers sane again and make life easier for the 90%+ of people who drive.

    Trying to get people into soul-crushing, sluggish public transportation is a losers game for everyone involved.

    Now, if you really want to be daring, allow jitney services run by private enterprise instead of government-run busses and trains. The Philippines has this kind of service and frequency and customer service are streets ahead unionized urban public transport systems in the US.

    David Dennis
    West Palm Beach


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