Thanks to Dan and Benjamin for separately tipping me off to this link:
AP: Cities rethink wisdom of 50s-era parking standards
Like nearly all U.S. cities, D.C. has requirements for off-street parking. Whenever anything new is built — be it a single-family home, an apartment building, a store or a doctor’s office — a minimum number of parking spaces must be included. The spots at the curb don’t count: These must be in a garage, a surface lot or a driveway.
Parking requirements — known to planners as “parking minimums” — have been around since the 1950s. The theory is that if buildings don’t provide their own parking, too many drivers will try to park on neighborhood streets.
In practice, critics say, the requirements create an excess supply of parking, making it artificially cheap. That, the argument goes, encourages unnecessary driving and makes congestion worse. The standards also encourage people to build unsightly surface lots and garages instead of inviting storefronts and residential facades, they say. Walkers must dodge cars pulling in and out of driveways, and curb cuts eat up space that could otherwise be used for trees.
“Half the great buildings in America’s great cities would not be legal to build today under current land use codes,” said Jeff Speck, a planning consultant. “Every house on my block is illegal by current standards, particularly parking standards.”
Opponents also say the standards force developers to devote valuable land to parking, making housing more expensive.
“We’re forcing people to invest in spaces for automobiles rather than in spaces for people,” she said. “There’s no way to recover that use.”