City of New Orleans Changes Parking Fees and Hours

Finding a parking spot in a dense downtown area is a challenge. In a rainstorm, in a hurry, already late… Often it seems to come down to luck. But maybe the chance of finding a spot can be improved.

Urban planners have studied how parking impacts neighborhoods and communities. And cities have worked to implement solutions. The City of New Orleans recently announced it will be increasing rates for surface parking and expanding times when parkers need to pay for parking in high demand areas.

parking studyWhile a primary goal is to increase city revenue, research in parking behavior indicates that another benefit of increasing parking fees is to increase the parking turnover. Essentially, as parking on the street becomes more expensive, drivers limit their time in any space, and increase parking availability for a finite number of on-street spaces. Additionally, long term parkers adjust their behavior and park further away making closer parking spaces available more frequently for the short-term parker.

Recently, in 2012, TMG prepared a study of best practices for the Urban Land Institute and hosted a forum featuring Professor Donald Schoup of UCLA on how dynamic pricing for on-street parking can increase turnover and improve space availability. In Shoup’s model, parking spaces in high demand have a higher price than parking spaces in low demand and prices adjust throughout the day to reflect the demand. The goal of the Shoup model is to increase turnover in high demand areas/time to ensure that there are always 1-2 parking spaces open at any given time. While higher prices for parking may sound like a bummer for drivers and businesses, Shoup argues it can improve the experience for everyone and help reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

Land Use Planning During Times of Economic Recovery

Greenville, SC revitalized green space.

With space as a commodity in urban settings, there has been a movement to focus on alternatives for long-established land uses like parking lots, strip malls and vacant land. Not only do these transformations seek to affect the aesthetics and functionality of spaces, they can also have positive effects on economic redevelopment and revitalization.  Check out what’s going on around the country when it comes to re-thinking how we revitalize neighborhoods, generate revenue or increase property value during this post-recession time when ideals are being re-evaluated on a national level. (more…)

Upcoming Conferences

TMG Staff are active in their respective fields, regularly participating in industry conferences and continuing education programs.  Over the next few months, TMG staff will be coordinating, sponsoring, presenting at, or attending:

  • Louisiana Chapter of the American Planning Association 2012 State Conference: January 25-27, Lake Charles, LA
  • iGaming North America: March 4-6; Las Vegas, NV
  • Regional Modeling for Improving Public and Private Policy: March 12, Baton Rouge, LA
  • PARKING!  Can We Do Better for our Communities and Our Businesses?, presented by ULI Louisiana and TMG Consulting: March 13, New Orleans, LA
  • American Council of Engineering Companies Annual Conference and Legislative Summit: April 15-18, Washington, DC
  • Southern Gaming Summit:  May 8-10, Biloxi, MS
  • Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) Diversity Conference: June 9-12, St. Louis, MO
  • ACEC/L Technical Visit and Study Tour: June 19-23, Panama Canal, Panama

The True Costs of Parking & New Strategies for Making Parking Work

TMG Consulting is pleased to sponsor  The Urban Land Institute’s FREE symposium on parking management featuring national expert Donald Shoup on Tuesday, March 13th.  This event is free and open to the public if you register by Thursday, March 8th.

The symposium should be especially useful to: BUSINESSES desiring more convenient parking for customers and deliveries; RESIDENTS seeking to reduce traffic congestion, to increase revenue, and to improve neighborhoods; and DEVELOPERS working to reduce project costs.

For full event details, please go to:

Tackling Parking – Alternatives to Building More

Part I: Managing parking supply

In my last post, I discussed broadly the powerful effect automobile parking requirements have had in literally reshaping our communities.  The cost, while not always quantifiable, is usually discernible.  Over the last several decades, city planners and business owners have been experimenting with a number of alternative solutions to a range of parking problems, other than just building more.  I have grouped these solutions into two broad categories: 1) better managing the amount of parking or supply, and 2) better managing the demand for parking.  The first of which is discussed here.

Maybe it’s just me but if a restaurant lot is full at night, I immediately look to the empty office lot next door.  Most parking requirements are a flat rate specific to each type of land-use – 2 per thousand square feet of a bar, 4 per thousand square feet of a health club, etc. There is no regard to where these uses are located relative to each other, or when people are actually using them. (If you want to know more about the history/impact of these requirements, there are a couple of great academic resources here and here).

As many downtowns, including New Orleans, begin reinvigorating themselves with new/converted residential buildings, I have encountered numerous folks who live and work within 8 blocks, but still drive!  Thanks to readily available supply on both ends, this behavior is reinforced and puts pressure on both residential developers and employers by continuing absorbing parking costs.

Whether in the city or suburbs, one doesn’t have to be a professor to observe how much parking already exists and often sits unfilled for much of the day.  The question is can we use available and new parking more efficiently?

Shared parking – this idea has many different iterations but the basic principle is that different land uses can share their parking requirements with adjacent or nearby land uses because they have different parking peaks.  For example, an up-and-coming chef wants to build a new restaurant that is located next to a bank.  A bank and restaurant have very different parking needs during the course of the day.  As the bank is closing its doors around 4pm (and on weekends), a restaurant is just getting started.  The restaurant might only need half the spaces on-site while still meeting parking requirements by sharing parking with the bank.  Those savings get passed onto the customer or invested in the business itself.

No minimum parking – pushing the parking requirements issue even further is the idea of no minimum parking.  If you’re a free market advocate, there is no more appropriate solution to parking then letting the market decide.  By requiring parking, one can easily argue that cities put an artificial force on the markets.  Developers would be incentivized to figure out exactly how much parking they needed to satisfy customers.

Parking maximums – parking maximum also allows a developer or owner to determine their own parking needs up to a set amount.  Maximums can also be employed to correct for an artificial force imposed by the lending community on developers.  Many downtowns throughout the country have no parking requirements for new projects.  However, the lending community imposes minimums because of a reflexive understanding of parking as necessary for the viability of a project.  This intervention can be argued to be uninformed or unjustly imposed as it is unlikely the lending community has any experience in estimating the appropriate demand for parking on a specific project.

PILOP (payment in-lieu of parking) – this is a relatively new proposal but the idea is straightforward.  A developer or building owner pays the city a fee per parking space not included in the project.  The fees collected could be used to build public parking garages as an alternative to meeting minimum parking requirements.  The solution would also complement shared parking practices.

Remote Parking – In many cases a community already has remote parking garages that need to be better promoted either through subsidies, shuttle service, or simple marketing.  In other applications, the construction of remote parking garages is necessary.  Cost can be supported by taxes, developer fees or event PILOPs.  Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade has been a lasting success that is supported by six structure garages on parallel streets (of course, Santa Monica also benefits from other enduring regional attractors including a vintage amusement park boardwalk pier and a fantastic beach).  Of note, its retail success has driven out independent stores for national chains to the chagrin of most locals. New Orleans has flirted with remote garages including one on Rampart Street at the edge of the French Quarter, but never fully implemented the strategy (vestigial surface lots remain on the downriver edge at Elysian Fields) that would encourage a “park-once” strategy for visitors driving to its historic center.

For more details on these and other concepts, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute will satisfy any policy wonks needs here.

In part II, we’ll shift to strategies that are focused on managing the demand for parking.

Contributed by:

Dwight Norton, Senior Analyst, Planning  or (504)569-9239 x 24

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Shaping Cities: The Power of Parking

Ever since people owned automobiles, they’ve needed a place to park them.  To accommodate the rapid rise vehicle ownership that started in the 1940’s, the instinctual solution of city planners was to require parking in new developments.  Over time this became codified through newly adopted use of zoning ordinances.  Zoning also introduced the first significant effort of communities to regulate the location of businesses by generally separating activities into residential, commercial and industrial zones.  The effect was to reinforce the need for more parking as daily needs became located further and further away from homes.  What was once a short walk down to the local market or school now required an automobile just to pick-up a loaf of bread.

These reinforcing forces, of car ownership and land-use regulation through zoning, dramatically reshaped cities.  Impacts of the need for parking on the development of cities are strikingly visible when comparing the neighborhoods of a city developed before the 1940s versus the neighborhoods that developed afterward.

In suburban communities, where land was/is cheaper, developers could lay down more pavement to cheaply meet parking requirements, whether for a shopping center or office building.  As a result, free parking was expected and readily provided.  The result has been ever increasing spread, or sprawl, in total amount of space required for suburban living.

In older neighborhoods, often called streetcar suburbs, parking can be difficult because they were designed for people to access their jobs and other regional attractors, such as stadiums, parks and theaters, by public transit.  Daily needs, such as food, schools, and shops, were provided by ‘main street’ like commercial nodes within or adjacent to the neighborhood.  With the removal of streetcar lines, these neighborhoods are now often crowded, unable to meet the demand for parking with limited supply.

In city centers that retained relatively strong economies, garages were eventually built to ensure drivers had a place to house their vehicles, but a great cost (today they average $15,000 – $30,000 per space).  In downtowns that struggled, many buildings were economically more valuable as tear downs to be replaced by surface parking lots, further eroding the vibrancy and attractiveness of these areas.

So what does providing all this parking really cost us?  This question was fully examined by Prof. Donald Shoup in his landmark book, “The High Cost of Free Parking”.  Here’s the short version:  more traffic, higher land costs, higher development project costs, more emissions, and marginalization of people who do not drive – whether restricted by age, health, or income.

In downtown or main streets the cost is usually direct.  Parking meters were introduced about the same time vehicle ownership took off in the 1940’s as an attempt to manage demand.  Parking management is typically a combination of parking meters for curb parking and lots or garages.  Parking lots and garages often come with heavy prices, particularly for companies.  As parking is now considered an employee benefit, business often have to absorb very costly monthly parking contracts into their overhead.

For decades, cities have charged less per hour for curb parking than for off-street parking. The incentives encourage drivers to seek out cheaper curb parking even though there is a limited supply.  The result during busy times is that customers and residents have difficulty finding a space close to their destination when they need it.  So, businesses suffer from the lack of available convenient parking, and drivers create added traffic as they circulate, or cruise, the surrounding streets.

Additional costs, particularly in suburban environments, are more difficult to quantify, but persist.  For young, elderly and low-income segments of the population, the inability to drive in an auto-dependent community dramatically affects their mobility, leaving them dependent on others or an oft-inadequate public transit system.  For active drivers, significant quantity of time is thus spent in the car, or even looking for parking at popular designations, such as the mall.

In summary, demand for parking has reshaped our cities, and often at a costs that we do not readily recognize.  In my next post, I’ll look at what cities are trying to do to manage these costs and mitigate the impacts of parking demand.

Contributed by: Dwight Norton, Senior Analyst, Planning

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.