In Triumph of the City, Ed Glaeser offers a very insightful analysis of density restriction in India, home of some of the fastest growing cities in the world. He explains that while land use regulations are detrimental to economic growth in the United States, the consequences are much greater in developing countries. In particular he examines the strict FSI (floor space index, equivalent to FAR) limits in Mumbai and the ramifications for business there.
This week at India Lives in her Cities Too, Karthik Rao-Cavale offers and in-depth analysis of the impact of parking requirements in India. In New Delhi’s Khan Market, one of the most upscale shopping destinations in India, business owners are fighting against fees for parking, which the Environmental Pollution Authority has mandated. The case is currently at the High Court, and could have significant bearings for the future provision of parking in India.
The Times of India reports on the specifics of the case. The New Delhi Municipal Council that owns the garage wants to begin to start charging for use of the garage, but the traders at the market propose they could begin compensating the council to maintain free revenue for their customers. The court has ruled that parking will remain free for customers for now, with the market’s businesses paying a fee to the NDMC.
Currently, parking mandates play an important part in new development in India’s cities. The Urban Development minister supports requiring parking for all new buildings. This is on top of the extreme FSI limits in some Indian cities (1.33 in Mumbai for new construction).
Rao-Cavale suggests that instead of providing parking at no cost, the NDMC should sell its garages:
The task of providing parking primarily belongs to the private sector. The government can permit paid on-street parking where the street space is not required for any other purpose (by street vendors, for example). But the government should not be involved in construction and maintenance of off-street parking lots.
As Glaeser explains, the extreme development restrictions in India could have potentially life or death consequences. Previously discussed in-depth here, parking requirements can have many of the same results that density restrictions do. Given the sprawling development in many Indian cities, driven in part by FSI limits, cars and the space required to park them, parking spots are at a premium in many Indian cities. By giving away parking spaces in any of its garages, the NDMC is reducing opportunities for the growth that cities attain when they permit density of people and commerce.