Parking parking parking

Anyone who spends any time looking at development projects in LA knows that parking is the key to everything.

Because of LA’s roots/identity as a series of connected suburbs, we have a zoning code which requires a ton of parking for all uses. For example, if you build a two bedroom apartment, you need to provide two parking spaces. If you want to build a retail use, the code can sometimes require 10 spaces per 1,000 sq ft.

The net result of all of this required parking is that you can’t really build to a high degree of density. You end up with parking taking up all of the ground floor of your apartment projects. And, if you want to build retail, you need huge parking lots around your store.

What’s wrong with devoting a whole bunch of space on the ground floor to parking? It makes things awful for pedestrians.

So, a modest proposal: LA should identify 10 parking challenged areas, use eminent domain to acquire suitable land in each, then build big, modern (ideally robotic) parking garages with retail on the first floor. The spots should be available on an hourly, daily or monthly basis and the cost should reflect (most of) the cost of building the garages.

By charging market rates, (obviously) not charging itself property tax, and collecting rent on the retail, it should be possible to build these garages using nearly 100% debt, meaning the entire project would be close to costless.

The final touch: In the immediately areas around each garage, the city ought to offer to relax parking requirements for new development, possibly in exchange for one-off or continuing payments from the developers.

The net result would be to dramatically increase density in each of the targeted areas without causing parking problems and without costing the city anything.