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HCoFP: chapter 9, in-lieu fees

(Chap 8 is a two page analogy about what if making phone calls was free and buildings had to provide as many phone lines as occupants, so all could make a phone call at the same time.)

A handful (he found 47) of cities worldwide allow developers to pay fees in-lieu of providing parking spaces. Some even require it, or partially so. This has a lot of advantages: old buildings can go to new uses more flexibly; shared parking can be more efficient (big buildings are more efficient; different time uses can be combined); visitors are more likely to park once and walk around a district, vs. driving between individual businesses; consolidated parking in public buildings can make for a nicer streetscape than scattered lots, especially if the city puts retail in the first floor.

Fees are usually less than the cost of building parking spaces, generally because city planners chickened out when they saw the actual cost. "The fee would be 'too high' if the city charged the full cost." Of course, sometimes parkers have to pay something so costs are re-couped that way.

In Beverly Hills, developers were willing to pay up to $53,000 to get out of having to provide a parking space. $16,000 is a more usual 2002 average. Combining fees per space with spaces per office building area allows us to calculate the virtual parking impact fee per square foot, and compare it with actual impact fees for stuff like transit, schools, sewers, etc.

Average parking impact fee 2002: $46 per square foot.
Average total of all other impact fees: $1.86

San Francisco has the highest transit impact fee in the US, $5/sqft. So the average parking impact fee (via in-lieu) is 9 times the highest transit fee.

Of course this is still a modest reform of a broken system; it's still requiring developers and thus the people who buy or rent from them to pay for the cost of parking, subsidizing the decision of other people to drive. Radical reform would be to require neither fee nor spaces, and let markets provide the needed parking at market prices... kind of sad that getting out of the way and letting markets work, for a fairly fluid commodity markets are entirely capable of providing (unlike health care or education, arguably) is 'radical'.

Incidentally, the tables showed parking requirements as high as 22 per 1000 sqft for Beverly Hills restaurants or 28 for Palm Springs Cabaret.
For office buildings, the in-lieu US cities required an average of 2.8 spaces, non-US cities 1.7.

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Damien Sullivan

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