Aug. 18, 2020 by TREC Staff

TREC Policy Working Group to City of Dallas: Cut Commercial Parking Requirements

The City of Dallas requires too much parking. While city code requires three spaces per 1,000 square feet for offices, a Granite Properties study of more than seven million square feet of office space across five U.S. cities including Dallas revealed that just 2.17 spaces per 1,000 square feet are actually used. An analysis of parking in Downtown Dallas conducted for the Dallas 360 Plan found that roughly 257 acres (27 percent of its total land area) are used for parking. However, within a typical weekday scenario, the analysis found 7,146 spaces were available during peak hours.

The Real Estate Council’s public policy working group on parking is advocating the City of Dallas to eliminate commercial parking requirements for properties that are not adjacent to single family homes, as Fort Worth did in 2006. It is a simple, yet effective solution that would encourage sustainable redevelopment and improve our city’s built environment.

City parking standards require nearly all properties to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces based on land use (office, multifamily, retail, etc.), but its origins remain unclear. The general belief is that Dallas followed other cities that based their requirements off one another and the Institute of Transportation Engineers: Parking Generation Handbook, which is comprised of surveys that determined the maximum number of allowable parking spaces for various property types based on high-volume situations and not minimums defined in local legislation.

Though the handbook was widely influential in determining zoning standards and parking requirements across America, renowned parking expert Donald Shoup found that half of the 101 reported parking generation rates are based on four or fewer surveys of parking occupancy, and 22 percent of the parking generation rates are based on a single survey.” In other words, the book’s data is not necessarily conclusive. In the years since Shoup’s 1999 report, the handbook has been updated to note that it does not provide parking supply standards or recommendations.”

Another issue with minimum parking requirements: They are largely formed based on the assumption that the only way to reach a destination is by parking a car. That’s not true out in the real world. Every property is different! Some are more amenable to foot traffic, bicycles, and bus and train travel. By mandating a huge supply of storage space on a property for automobiles, we are left with vast swaths of unused parking, congested roadways, and neighborhoods that are unfeasible for alternative modes of transportation and hostile to people who do not own cars.

World-class cities are created by great places, not parking spaces.