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STB: More Arguments for McGinn's Parking Deregulation Proposal

By Erica C. Barnett May 9, 2012

Yesterday, I editorialized about city hall reporter Lynn Thompson's front-page "Truth Needle" story in the Seattle Times, which, I argued, cherry-picked data to argue that Mayor Mike McGinn's proposal to lift minimum parking requirements for new developments in dense inner-city neighborhoods would clog streets with cars and harm the working class. (My two main points: Young people, who are more likely to move into those new, smaller apartments, are less likely to have cars, as are members of the working class.)

Today, Seattle Transit Blog's Sherwin Lee added two smart points to the argument for McGinn's parking deregulation proposal.

First, they noted that getting rid of government parking mandates "has very little to do with how many households own cars citywide, and much more to do with the effects on real estate pricing that such requirements have." Requiring a certain number of parking spaces per unit, as I've pointed out before, artificially inflates the cost of housing because people who don't want parking still have to pay for it.

Second, and even more compellingly, STB notes that Thompson's focus on the 16 percent of Seattle households that don't own cars elides the percentage of carless residents in the dense urban centers that would actually be impacted by McGinn's proposal---places like Capitol Hill, where just 29.5 percent of households own cars, or South Lake Union, where 41.6 percent do.

Finally, STB points out that there's a big difference between owning  a car and driving a car. "When looking at car use in the form of daily commuting, only 61.9% of Seattleites drive (either alone or in a carpool), and that number shrinks remarkably in the neighborhoods that would qualify for an exemption of parking minimums.

"Using car ownership to dictate parking supply, on the other hand, turns housing projects into long-term storage units for cars, adding a rather cumbersome expense to a project, costs which are passed onto the 'working class.'”

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