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Why parking minimums almost destroyed my town and how we repealed them (2017) (strongtowns.org)
170 points by tartoran 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 237 comments





How could a bank possibly require two hundred parking spaces? For a branch in a small town? There's only about 9,000 people in Sandpoint!

Edit: ah, it's a multistorey office building, so that's presumably 1:1 employee parking, not a branch with customer parking?

I was trying to work out how this would play in the UK, and in the first instance it's most likely the bank would shut: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/opinion/caroline-flint-... (Thorne has a population of 16k and no bank branch).

There is always a back-and-forth about parking availability, charges, and business taxes in relation to the UK high street. But the usual model is either a small amount of on-street parking or a charged-for public or private car park.


(According to local news articles) It's a 90,000 sqft building, in a small village with zero alternative transportation. 200 parking spaces is actually a conservative low requirement, all things considered.

The building, if some day fully occupied, would have over 400 employees daily in it. In my city, they'd probably push closer to 450+ employees into there.


I in the UK a lot of multi-story office building have carparks underneath them. That said, it's less of a problem because for buildings in the centres of towns a lot of people will prefer to take public transport or cycle anyway.

I used to live in Sandpoint, and the large city parking is full very often forcing people to park on the street where it's a 3 hour or so limit. I always rode my bike (yes even in the winter) but it's challenging for tourists visiting the beach or shopping in the summer to find parking. Also very few people ride their bike in the winter with all the snow & ice, and that's when there are the fewest parking spots since the snow piled up cuts the size of the city lot in half.

I always thought a park and ride would do well there so tourists could park out of downtown and take a bus to downtown or the beach.

It's not a big problem, but I couldn't imagine the city having less parking.


Just charge for it. That encourages efficient allocation of the resource (land).

If the government mandated free ice cream for everyone there would likely be an ice cream shortage. The solution would be to charge more for ice cream, not just try to increase the supply to meet demand (which is basically infinity when the cost is 0)


It also encourages people to go elsewhere.

I needed glasses recently, with my insurance I had a choice of 4 stores. I went to the one with free parking. (Google maps streetview is great for checking that.)

Requiring paid parking in a tourist town encourages people to visit a different town.


Choosing a store within a town is different from choosing a different town.

All the old style tourist towns with limited parking seem to be doing more than fine. I live in such a neighbourhood, with no parking minimums and paid parking. People still visit.


Think about it like this: Why is there paid parking? It's because demand exceeds supply, so they require a fee in order to encourage people not to come.

But that means you could have more visitors.

Now, if you are maxed out, then good, paid parking makes sense - send those tourists elsewhere.

But if more visitors = more money, and that is something the town wants, then adding more parking, and reducing fees is what the town should do.

Which is what I said: "It also encourages people to go elsewhere."

It boils down to this: When choosing paid parking make sure this is what you want, that you want people not to come.

(And I acknowledge that in certain situations it makes sense to want that.)

And I know what you are thinking: You'd rather they take the bus or whatever. But think about this: Why do they chose to drive anyway, forcing you have to encourage them not to?

Clearly there is something lacking with the bus, to the point that you have to deliberately make driving worse just to induce them to use it.


Have you ever been to Europe? People just don't use cars when visiting most cities there. They walk, take a bus, use an Uber.

I live in Montreal, and it's the same when tourists come here. They may drive to the city, but they leave their car parked the whole time. (Side streets out of the center have some free parking. Commercial arteries and downtown core is paid)

Sure, you could have more parking for cars, but you might not have more people. And with too much parking you destroy the city you want to visit. Edmonton and Calgary have plentiful parking, and no ones goes to visit them, except as a stopping point to see the wilderness around the city.


Oh, when I said "not have more people", I meant it in the sense that cars take a lot of space in the environment, blocking people. They also transport fewer people in a given space than bikes, buses, subways, sidewalks, etc. In a dense urban car that is.

> And I know what you are thinking: You'd rather they take the bus or whatever. But think about this: Why do they chose to drive anyway, forcing you have to encourage them not to?

It doesn't work like this.

Imagine a person considering visiting the town. They have a threshold of pain/effort in their mind, say V, above which they'll just go sightseeing elsewhere. Let C be the pain/effort of visiting our town by car, and B the pain/effort of visiting by bus. If C < B < V, they'll visit by car. If you can arrange to have C > B, while still keeping B < V, they'll still visit, but via a bus.

So the goal for a town is to make it so that for most interested people, B < C && B < V.


What is your definition of "the supply of parking" for a given area? I don't think the number of available parking spots in that area is a good measure, since people can always park just outside the area and walk in.

Instead, I think a good measure of parking supply for a given destination point could be the sum of available spots, weighed by their distance to the destination.


Perhaps they don't take the bus because car-centric cities with lots of free parking usually have crappy public transport.

If all your tourist town has going for it is free parking, I don't think it's worth visiting anyways.

The whole point of encouraging tourism is that tourists are less price sensitive.

A local would take the time to research the cheapest store taking into account list price, quality, parking costs and so on. But a tourist probably won't. That's why tourist traps exist.


Another cooperation problem, sadly. It'd be best if all the towns started to reduce parking and make it more expensive, so that going elsewhere wouldn't even be a consideration.

Everyone who walks, cycles, or takes public transport to that store subsidized your parking. I prefer things that are convenient for me, so being located nearby. Given that I live where land is expensive, that means no parking. When I lived in a place where land is expensive and parking is forced on people whether they want it or not (Santa Monica) I just got shafted.

I know people like that, who would drive for a long time to avoid paying a dollar and it always seemed like such weird behavior to me. I remember going to get pastrami in LA with a friend; I mean, twenty dollar sandwiches, and he didn't want to pay three bucks for parking, instead wanted to drive more. So weird.

I drove around San Francisco for 3 hours looking for a free parking spot. I eventually found one, in an absurdly wealthy neighborhood. We stopped just to stop and rest for a bit, but obviously by that point we were not going to walk all the way to the restaurant I had intended to visit. They lost my business. I ate some old snacks out of the trunk of the car.

No wonder there are traffic problems. Lots more parking is needed.

BTW, self-driving will make this far worse for traffic, although better for the businesses. The car can just drive around while I visit the business.


That's... absurd. Did you spend that time looking for a free hotel as well? Or a free restaurant?

And if you think more parking fixes traffic I suggest you visit Los Angeles. Or even just San Jose.


I think he means free as in available, not free as in no cost.

I mean no cost. Of course I'm not going to pay for parking.

Maybe you think it is normal to pay. I don't. I have paid a few times in over 2 decades of driving a car. I can mostly remember them because I'm still angry:

I paid to park in Boston in 2001, near the courthouse. I sort of paid at a park-and-ride place for an airport, but that included a bus ride. I got parking stickers for a couple colleges. I paid the "parking fee" at the Air and Space Museum Annex in Virginia, which is really a cheating way to charge admission.

I think that's it.

The problem is that some people are willing to patronize places without free parking. If people didn't do that, we'd all have free parking.


Amazing that some people value their time THAT cheap. Seriously, a couple bucks for 3 hours? Do you want to work for me?

I'm nearly certain he meanh no cost. Sf has instituted market rate street parking in some places and also has a number of garages where I've generally had no trouble finding a space, provided I paid.

When I have a problem getting a framework or library to do the thing it’s meant to do, my first instinct isn’t to debug it and submit a PR, but to look at my strategy and figure out where I’m going wrong.

In this case, maybe SF is trying to send you a signal: you probably shouldn’t be driving in it.

If you can’t change you strategy, then consider changing frameworks: LA historically has had extremely high parking minimums, though that does present its own challenges.


I almost didn't drive. It's a good thing I got the rental car though. The BART that I would have taken from the airport was down due to a strike. One of the days of my visit I tried to get around without the car, and that was a disaster:

MUNI stop locations above ground are not announced or lighted, and you can't just count because the vehicle only halts if a person asks it to do so. The bus routes are confusing; I went the wrong way and ended up in a terrifying neighborhood. When things got busy, there was no way to board the cable car. Due to holiday crowds (people who might want service!) most of the system (MUNI, buses, cable cars... everything in the northern half of the city) got shut down for the evening. Later I missed a bus because it stopped on the other corner instead of at the bus stop, and that was the last one so I had to walk several miles in a rather scary city.

I suppose SF is sending a signal: you probably shouldn't go there.


What's interesting here is that I won't drive in SF. I will drive in LA (I'll try to avoid it, but I can be talked into it.) so you are partly right... I mean, the traffic is equivalently bad. (well, LA traffic is much worse at night. SF traffic only compares during the day) but in LA, I can usually count on a parking spot, in SF, it's much harder (even if you are willing to pay, my experience is that just getting off the street and onto the place where the valet can get into your car is a bit of an adventure in SF.)

But I won't walk in LA; I mean, I'll show up without a car and uber everywhere, or I'll rent a car, but you need a car to get around in LA.

But... that's the thing; In SF, it doesn't matter that the traffic is terrible, because I won't drive. In LA, you always feel how terrible the traffic is because you can't really avoid driving.

That's the thing; you need a car in LA but not in SF; I mean, sure, the transit sucks in SF, the transit might even be better in LA, but the city really isn't that big; you can walk most everywhere. In LA, that's hard. LA is big. A lot of that big is parking; LA has a big office tower, then like a city block of parking right there. It's crazy. (I once visited a friend without a car in the days before uber; We went from his place near LAX to Langers deli (that's the other reason why I need to move to new york, I love pastrami) It took us like four hours to just get there using public transit. (It was worth it. Oh my that Pastrami was good) - really from then until he moved I'd rent a car when I went.

Personally, this is one of the things I like more about SF than LA. I like walking a lot more than I like driving, and really, I think driving is a low-density transport medium; what are cars good for? cars are good for getting people to different places. When you are in low density areas, each person is going to a very different destination. In high density areas? a lot of people are going to essentially the same place, so shared vehicles, trains or the like, are a much better answer.

It's a choice. If you build your cities to be comfortable for cars, they won't be comfortable for pedestrians, and vis a vis.

I've been thinking about this lately. I mean, I live in silicon valley; essentially in dense suburbs. I want it to be much denser; I want it to be dense enough to be walkable. But my neighbors don't; Maybe that means I should move to new york? I mean, why is my opinion any more right than theirs? It's cheaper there, too. Though, I hear they get up earlier than I'd like.


I'm not sure that your comparison between getting eyeglasses and visiting a town for what most people would consider a vacation are even remotely the same thing.

I agree with this idea, amusingly the parking lot used to be pay to park then the town made it free. I don't see a problem with charging a minimum, then hourly up to a max, just make sure it's cheap enough, maybe max $8 a day. This would give the town money to use to help the problem, either more parking or better public transit options.

Without wishing to sound flippant, as a society we've developed a mechanism to control the allocation of scarce resources - pricing. It sounds a lot like the parking you're describing is extremely underpriced, both in the demand/supply sense (demand is outstripping supply) and in the externalities sense (impacts to tourism, issues like air quality caused by traffic hunting for a space, walkability death spiral etc.)

For such a capitalist country as the US, the die-hard attachment to free or overcheap parking is really odd.


> For such a capitalist country as the US, the die-hard attachment to free or overcheap parking is really odd.

The US is also a country defined by an extreme attention to individual freedom and personal liberty. It's practically a meme that "Americans love Freedom" (using the American definition of 'Freedom'). Limiting parking in any way is, in practice, a very real limitation on a person's freedom to exist and/or move about.

This is why parking is given such high attention. Obviously not every single American drives (and I'm not justifying this response, just attempting to explain it) but when you limit roads/parking, you are effectively telling the vast majority of Americans that they should never be allowed somewhere, and they react accordingly.

You can think of this as like the American version of how France has major protests/riots whenever their leadership does something really bad/unpopular against the citizens.


That is how many Americans view it. They do not see that freedom to drive everywhere and park for free is at odds with other freedoms, such as the freedom of not needing to spend a large amount of money on a car and fuel.

> Freedom to drive everywhere and park for free is at odds with other freedoms

It's not. People want to create a narrative that there is a tension between them, one or the other. (Urbanists hate cars because they hate cars, so they want to define every argument as requiring a hatred of cars to make any progress on anything else, to suit their religious beliefs. Every blog post on StrongTowns is a good example of this).

But you can always do both well, we just choose not to.

Chicago Loop, while not perfect or ideal, is a great example of how an urban environment could look that serves all well. It is dense, highly walkable, highly transit oriented. But it also still has a strong network of freeways and has an entire underground network of roads and tunnels for cars to pour into/out of (where they can peacefully exist just a few feet above/below walkability and transit, without ever hurting any of it). As those cars electrify, all noise and pollution problems are slowly but steadily disappearing.

In many ways, it is the closest to an American city ideal. Which I would define as a place where it is 100% convenient to use any transportation method you wish, at any time you wish, with as few-to-no restrictions as possible.


> Urbanists hate cars because they hate cars

There's a great 99% Invisible episode that's relevant here:

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/episode-76-the-modern...

That's right - before cars became the de facto way to get around, they were compared to Moloch. Any "hate" modern urbanists might have for the car has nothing on early 20th-century posters featuring death, cape billowing, riding a demonic-looking car as it mows down hapless children.

I'd say, more accurately, that urbanists are investigating out what the balance of harm vs. benefit is here so they can propose ways to bring back some user-friendliness to our rights-of-way. They're revisiting the assumption that cars, rather than people, should be the primary focus in designing cities.

Put another way: IMHO, cars represent a local maximum in transportation outcomes. There's a lot that's great about them: independence, mobility, ease of use supported by robust infrastructure. There's a lot that isn't so great: long commute times, pollution, noise, sedentary lifestyles, urban sprawl, collisions causing death or injury. I fully expect humanity will outlive the car, just like it's outlived any number of other transportation methods, and it's in our collective best interest to start thinking about what that means.


Cars make commutes shorter. Long commute times are caused by two things. One is the insistence on working in megacities. The other is the impediments to people moving closer to where they work: zoning, property tax resets, two-income families.

Cars reduce noise compared to subways squealing and rattling, compared to commuter rail horns blasting, and compared to the big engines of diesel buses.


> Cars reduce noise compared to subways squealing and rattling, compared to commuter rail horns blasting, and compared to the big engines of diesel buses.

As a US citizen living in Germany, I have to disagree. I live one very quiet residential block from a nationwide major rail artery and do not hear or feel the trains. Noisy, squeaky, rattling, rail horn blasting trains are a choice made by underfunded, weak, and poorly organized governments and transportation organizations. In the US, it is only that way because the US has chosen to prioritize cars over all other means of transportation.


Yes and parking in the loop is blissfully expensive, encouraging suburbanites to take the train in.

> Yes and parking in the loop is blissfully expensive, encouraging suburbanites to take the train in.

At least they have the option of using a functioning train system!

You can see the locations in which street parking is meter-based and how much it costs [1]. It is very much a demand-based scheme and I think that many people see it as ideal.

The map doesn't show how parking is handled in residential areas though [2]. If demand exceeds supply, a numbered residential parking zone is implemented and only those who prove that the live inside the zone can buy the number sticker that goes in the window of your car and allows you to park on the street in that zone ($25 per year). Those residents are also the only people that can buy 24-hour visitor parking passes for guests ($0.53 per pass).

[1] http://map.chicagometers.com/

[2] http://smartchicago.github.io/zone-parking/


By this logic I should get free hotel rooms when I visit places.

You effectively do, in that we pay for lots of private spaces for the general public to use. This is the same logic that makes Public Libraries free to all, even if you aren't a resident of that city or state. Public Restrooms, too, and so on.

If your argument is that we should have stronger public housing, to mimic public parking and/or for consistency sake -- I agree 100%.


Please tell me where to find these free hotels. What a sucker I've been paying for rooms my entire life.

Most Wal-Marts will allow you to park a vehicle overnight and sleep in it, so, essentially a free hotel room. Alternatively, most cities have shelters, you could look into staying in one of them.

maxsilver was not claiming that cities currently offer free hotel rooms as you're implying, but rather that cities already provide adjacent services---suggesting that free hotel rooms might not be a totally crazy idea---and that in general we ought to have stronger public housing. Do you disagree? Why?

Everyone notices the pay parking in the US because everyone drives.

1) Not everyone drives.

2) They notice it because they're used to getting it for free. Do people notice pay-renting in the US because everyone needs to sleep somewhere? Or do we just understand that using land comes with a cost?

It shouldn't cost less to give a place to sleep to a car than to a person.


>It shouldn't cost less to give a place to sleep to a car than to a person

Really? It shouldn't? Beyond the obvious fact that people in the US _need_ cars (it's not an option for most), parking space costs far less to build and maintain than does a home.


Why do they need cars?

because you can't walk to things.

Why can't you walk to things?

Because they're so far apart.

Why are they so far apart?

Because a) parking minimums mean more land is given to parking than the actual amenity, and b) zoning forces single-use and density maximums

Why do people want parking minimums and zoning restrictions like that?

Because it's annoying to drive through high density.

Why do they need cars?

on and on and on

It's not an option because we built an entire country for 2 ton beings that need 30 feet to move in a circle, rather than humans. Can ants walk across Manhattan?

Seriously, look at your standard US "shopping center" and it's almost entirely parking. The lots dwarf the actual buildings.


If I accept your entire premise (I don't, I think there are a lot of cases you're missing here), I still don't see how you come up with a solution. You're going into the history of how we got here, but it doesn't matter to the person who just needs a parking space. They're already here and they cannot afford a parking spot that costs as much as their mortgage.

I agree that we have done a putiful job in providing public transportation and designing cities around the notion that reducing cars is a good thing, but to argue that a parking spot should cost as much as rent is ludicrous. It is completely impractical and will never happen.


I don't own a car (like the majority of people who live in my apartment building). A parking spot (including alley space required for egress) takes up 50% of the space of my apartment.

Arguably people need a home more than they need a car even in the most extreme cases.

> even in the most extreme cases

Not true. A car can function as a home, but not vice versa, so in extreme cases this is almost unilaterally untrue.


I'm not familiar with Sandpoint, but rather than a park and ride, why not a park and walk? Tourists who want to hang out downtown all day could park a half mile or so away and walk. While it's not the expectation in some places, prominent signs and way finding could alleviate any confusion about their being "no parking".

This would bring additional foot traffic to downtown adjacent neighborhoods, and encourage people to stay longer.


Meanwhile, in Geneva, some new buildings are forbidden to build an underground parking in order to discourage the use of cars.

It's interesting how cities react to cars differently


Yeah, Geneva is already clogged and just doesn't have the space to build more roads. Driving is curable, as they say.

I just learned that this is a problem we somehow have in New York City, a place that desperately needs to reduce the number of cars on the road. :\

So they decided to build a completely new subway just to incentivize french daily commuters to drive less into the city. Project costing billions, making ton of mess all over the city for last 10 years, planned either by incredibly stupid people or as outright fraud.

If you look at the map, it won't help in transport practically any Geneva inhabitant, since there are only 4 stops altogether (1 is in so called ugliest town in France just across the border, Annemasse), and moving between those 3 within Geneva will be faster by existing bus system (ie Eaux-Vives -> train station, takes 12 mins). That's not how you build a city subway. What a fail...

Add to that the fact that french commuters would have to drive to centre of border french town (which has its own traffic jams every day and no infrastructure to handle extra commuters) and somehow park (expensively) there - it will take them +-same time to just go to centre of Geneva.

The problem would be solvable very easily without any digging and spending billions and pissing off everybody - just change legislation to make parking to non-swiss (or non-Geneva) cars more restrictive (blue zones) or more expensive (white zones, inner city parkings). And make the border huge parkings really cheap, the prices now are ridiculously high for what they are supposed to do (and waiting times for a slot are 6-12 months). It would also bring more revenue to city without having to build more parking spaces for which there is simply no space.

I suspect huge bribery from companies involved (mainly construction) to push this through, because this really doesn't make any sense. Yet another example of Geneva not really being Swiss in anything but location - more like 50% French with their mess, inefficiency and corruption, and 50% somehow Swiss (but its really smaller half, they just have tons of money from all the companies due to low corporate taxes).


> "1 is in so called ugliest town in France"

> "more like 50% French with their mess, inefficiency and corruption"

It's sad to bring an emotional "argument" to a rational one


It's a bit sad to see a comment like this downvoted even though it had effort put into it and gives a perspective that most here don't even know about. Despite the antagonism towards the French commuters I found it enlightening.

See also: https://www.euronews.com/2018/12/06/luxembourg-to-be-first-c...

Can't we please just consider public transport, cycle path networks and dense pedestrian areas as alternatives for getting people around to separating every building from every other building with half a mile of road and carpark? For, like, five minutes? Pump maybe half the resources into this stuff that would go into strip car park sprawl and save the rest. Maybe plant some trees for extra pleasantness. The rest of the world manages somehow.


I'm not sure why a bank building a 3 story building can't accomodate some underground/roof parking? Or just make the carpark space the bank would have made multi level.

I don't see why the only solution was to go horizontal, for a bank of all companies!


Ballpark construction costs:

  Surface parking $3,000 per space
  Multistory $20,000 per space
  Underground $30,000 per space

Not only that, it can run up to $500 or more per underground parking spot in maintenance per year for electricity, physical space and entrance maintenance, fire safety systems and obligatory insurances. Additionally, you might not be allowed to store anything except a car in your space and not allowed to perform any activities there except driving in or out (no small car repairs!). What if you're alone with a baby and shopping bags and there's no elevator?

Compare this to an outside parking space: none of that applies.

I'd love to hide all the cars away from the street but I didn't realize all these differences until I got myself an underground spot.


Don't let them decide on cost.

It's the cities job to put regulations in place to require underground parking when building certain structures. It is also their job to calculate in the additional toll on traffic as well as public transport in order to plan future expansion.


We have that kind of regulation where I live, including a requirement for off-street parking per apartments that pushes builders strongly towards underground parking. Now people complain about the rents, because of course the added construction cost ends up increasing the rent, and about a lack of new affordable housing.

You see the same thing in the original story — some popular restaurant decided not to expand because of the cost of parking. Mandating expensive extras sucks, one way or another.


That's not extras, that's paying for the externalities you otherwise incur upon others.

Forcing that spot to be parking instead of a home means we're all paying for the externalities your car imposes. It would have been a home for humans but your government insisted it be a home for cars instead.

Where I live there's no free parking. People who own cars use the private car park around the corner. It works fine.


So they pay for garage around the corner instead of the garage in the basement. Good for them!

If there is a mix of land use and enough density people can go car free. When you walk to work and local stores: the need for a car is low and so you start thinking about getting rid of it completely. The trips you currently take outside the cities are more expensive, but you don't take them often so overall the car isn't worth it.

When you can't walk most places (in the US zoning codes won't allow it) you start to need a car. There is a level where public transit and work for some people but cars start to make sense at this level (thought perhaps one car per family instead of one per adult)


When you can walk most places, you get terrifying street people.

I would much rather face an unarmed crazy person on foot than a crazy person in a car. I think the statistics back me up here; in a car or as a pedestrian, you face a lot more danger from the cars around you than from the pedestrians around you, even in the worst neighborhoods.

Yeah exactly. And I don't pay for a spot I don't need (I don't have a car). We have gocar which is handy for people who need a car for the odd day trip or Ikea run, but not on a daily basis.

That parking garage around the corner still has some degree of vacancy and still occupies the estate that "could been home for humans", so in this way it's no difference.

It's very different, because now if I say "hey, I could get a better return on that land than the company that runs the garage" I can

* buy the land.

* turn it in to homes.

It also means that as the area grows and more people come here and wish to park and live here, they can price according to the market, meaning we can determine if more people want to live on that land or park on it.

Also, for me at least the most expensive part of car ownership would be paying for parking. If I had a space with my flat, I'd probably own a car because it's a sunk cost (I would be bitter about it though). As it stands now I have the choice of not paying for a parking space, and I prefer not to.


About half the residents in such apartments have no car.

Interesting, because here nearly everyone wealthy enough to buy a central, newly commissioned apartment (ballpark of million dollars) does own a car.

Most people here rent, and the cars tend to be in the outer parts of the city. There are certainly wealthly people in the city, but the kind of building I live in is not unusual: Sixteen apartments, more than half car-free, some who have a car elsewhere, and about four cars here. Some have bought or rented centrally instead of in a cheaper area where they could also afford a car, some could afford both living here and a car, but consider a car to be a net nuisance.

Not in Europe. Cars aren't really practical anywhere near city centres.

I am in Norway, not even in the capital.

Owning a car in city such as Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Brno... is significant pain, and it costs you a lot to even keep that car on the street (if you can find a place - you can't). As a result, people in many historical cities with compact greater city centres (where there simply is not enough land to even theoretically accommodate 1 car per household) simply don't own a car, because why. Probably more than half of the people living in the building where I do don't have a car, many of my coworkers don't...

I've lived for most of my life in a big northern Italian city, I ever have had a car. Of course I tend to use public transportation for moving around the center but I still need a car to buy food, to go outside the city etc.

I know very few people who buy only pre-made foods, on daily basis instead a weekly "big" shopping and very few that only use public transportation for anything. Essentially if I count they are well... only one in few hundreds...


All of the European cities I've been to are full of parked vehicles. Someone got to own all them.

Anyway we were talking about parking norms for newly commissioned buildings, and "you can't find parking place on the street" isn't really an argument against it.


To bring some numbers into this otherwise useless exchange of made-up anecdotes: half of all households in Berlin do not own a car.

To get back to useless anecdotes: as far as I can tell, this is not a result of poverty. Indeed car ownership is far more prevalent among the poorer immigrant community than the younger hipster community. I know people owning apartments but not cars. It’s simply a shift in the value system.


Younger people tend to have both smaller incomes and smaller families, so it's neither anything new nor surprising. Give them 15 years.

Well sure, but if half a people living in an area don't have a car, that's a very significant difference to everyone having a car. When the young people grow up, they'll be new young people to replace them. And fewer families tend to want to live in city centres anyway.

You missed the part where I mentioned people owning apartments yet not cars, and also where I explicitly referred to my (admittedly subjective) impression of a subset of car owners as ‘poorer’. To expand: this is a rather well-known cultural effect, with first-gen immigrants valuing wealth and its symbols more than the postmaterialistic boheme.

The families I know generally use attachable bike carriages for their children, and car sharing for exceptional needs.


Meh, I owned an apartment and didn't own a car until I was 30, until the kindergarten commute with two bus changes really started to get old. You extrapolate the trend from an early datapoint.

Maybe where you live car ownership is for poor, but not here. A rustbucket in Norway would buy you a great car in Germany.


We are not saying that there are no cars. We are saying that a significant portion of the people in these cities don't have a car. You saw cars of the other half.

I'm saying that it's weird to require parking spaces in cities where there is a problem with housing prices when a lot of people don't have a car and thus prove that it's possible. It even completely goes agains the goal of reducing cars in cities.


A lot of things are possible. I can live for months on potato and lard alone, and people buying apartments in new high rises of central Oslo could eschew their Teslas and bike instead. That's just not happening however, and build code deals with realities on the ground.

There is little reason not to enforce parking norms, and "I personally would never own a car" is a poor justification. Maybe the guy you'd sublet it to would, or you decide to start a family and the only kindergarten spot you get is 12km away, or you sell your apartment and move elsewhere but the new owner needs a car.

If you genuinely need no parking spot, there's typically no shortage of nice apartments in the older buildings of nearly every European city out there. Costs less, too.


The only European city I know well is Munich, and here there definitely is a shortage of apartments, particularly for rent. People tell stories about having searched for years.

The reason why the current parking norms are bad is that they require many more off-street parking spots than residents need. Building those costs €25-45k each at current Munich construction costs, and roughly half of that's wasted money (details vary widely).

The streets are packed with parked cars, but we're not talking about public parking here.


I live in a new building in central Copenhagen, where every household is surely making at least double the average Danish salary, so could easily afford a car. By counting in the basement I estimate about 20% of households own cars.

This includes families. There are plenty of child-sized bicycles (all sizes of child) in the courtyard.


The streets are packed with cars, sure, but the buildings are packed with people. That car owners park in my street doesn't imply that a majority of people who live nearby either need or have cars.

That just means you can rent out your spot. In some places they go for 50-100€ per month.

What externalities? I pay carbon tax, ecological tax, consumption tax on fuel, income tax, VAT, municipal tax, capital gains tax, dividend tax, property tax, property transfer tax, and many other taxes - solely because the system says "you pay and we will maintain the infrastructure, clean the environment etc". There are no unexpected externalities that I would incur on anyone and most definitely no externalities that I did not pay my fair share for, since I pay much more in taxes than most people do (meaning larger percentage of my income as well as in absolute units). Now the government is trying to pull out of this social contract but isn't giving any of the tax money back.

If you need the parking spot, that's not an "extra", period. Your car has to go somewhere, either congesting the scarce street/sidewalk space, or to your private parking spot.

And I'm paying taxes because the government has promised to solve the infrastructure problem for me - and that definitely includes parking, not only at home, but also at all possible destinations.

What's the point of a government-ran infrastructure otherwise? I could've built my own parking space by myself without any laws if I needed it, the point of having a government monopoly in this business is that we have roads and parking spaces that everyone can use.

If I'm forced to pay for something then I should be able to use it. I shouldn't be told to suck it just because I came too late.


Because physical space of the public property is constrained by the laws of the Universe with blatant disregard for our libertarian ideals.

They took our money to build road infrastructure - they should provide the infrastructure or return the money, instead now they demand citizens should do their job and they don't even offer any money back, instead taxes are rising. I don't care much about any constraints the government (not citizens) is facing, if it's impossible they shouldn't have promised it to the voters (and get voted because of it) and definitely shouldn't have taken money for that purpose (from state budget).

Yeah, I know, there is not infinite space on Earth. That doesn't mean the government has any right to shift their responsibilities to the citizens and keep demanding money for the service they've ceased to provide.


Sure, they collect tax money to (among other things) build road infrastructure.

That doesn't mean that a) they're going to build it in the smartest, most optimal way, or b) they're going to build it in whatever way you would most prefer.

None of this is hypocritical or contradictory, it's merely annoying in case a, and something that sensible, non-narcissistic human beings who want a functional society accept and expect in case b.


Eh, not really. There are so many things that could've been done to a) prevent unfairness and b) prevent the situation altogether. This is like calling firefighters only after the whole building is on fire, and I'm not going to accept that as good, great nor even sufficient. The government is supposed to care about their citizens, all citizens are supposed to be equal, the government should be fair and money should not be thrown away - these principles are cut in stone for me.

Needing that parking spot is an extra - you don't have to have a car in many cities, and the explicit intended goal of city designers is to ensure that having a car is inconvenient and expensive, so that more people would choose not to have a car, as that is the solution to "your car has to go somewhere, either congesting the scarce street/sidewalk space, or to your private parking spot". It does not have to go somewhere if it does not exist.

The city centres of Europe were built largely in pre-car times without any explicit concern for parking. Now the explicit intended goal of city planners is to ensure that the vehicles don't bog down the city. Which means both reducing the through traffic and making homeowners arrange their parking on private property. The latter part apparently is very disturbing to many here.

You are not looking at unintended consequences. By forcing people to have parking for cars - weather or not they otherwise want it - you are forcing them to use land for parking. For those who don't want parking that space could instead be used for more living space. We can estimate that in the space 5 empty parking spots use you could instead have another apartment which can house a 6th person. This increases density which actually ensures vehicles don't bog down the city.

By artificially enforcing lower density than some people desire we force some less density and less density forces people to drive thus bogging down the city in traffic - the very thing you wanted to prevent by enforcing parking minimums causes the problem.

Note that above I'm only talking about people who don't want a car. Most people are on the fence - a car is a useful tool to get around but if they could get by without it they would consider it. There are a few people who love cars who will want extra space. There are some jobs that require cars (or more likely vans/trucks), but most people are on the fence where they have a car only because it is the best solution to their current transport needs but they could live without in a different situation (they probably can't see the other situation as possible)


> By forcing people to have parking for cars - weather or not they otherwise want it - you are forcing them to use land for parking. For those who don't want parking that space could instead be used for more living space.

This whole branch came about after mention of pushing the trend towards underground garages. They are neither take land nor occupy liveable space.


Underground area could be used for apartments, so it does take away usable living space. (though admittedly underground is a bad place to live). The costs of underground are high enough that the lost opportunity costs mean something else could be done with that money which might be better for quality of life.

"making homeowners arrange their parking on private property"

So just stop giving them the public street for free! Nobody's saying you shouldn't be able to buy half an acre of land and park all your cars on it if that's what you want to do.

What's disturbing to many here is making us buy parking we don't need so that _you_ can continue to get parking welfare for free from the state (aka taxpayers).


> So just stop giving them the public street for free!

Yes, did I argue otherwise?

> What's disturbing to many here is making us buy parking we don't need so that _you_ can continue to get parking welfare for free from the state (aka taxpayers).

What are you on about? What "parking welfare" is requiring garages/spots on private property?

Are you trying to dispute that people do own cars in real life? For every X apartments there are Y vehicles, and build codes attempt to balance real life needs by requiring developers ensure certain amount of parking available. Not building the parking garage under the building won't make people car free, they'll just park it on public property.


If currently there are Y vehicles for every X apartments, and you want (and expect) there to be Y/2 vehicles for every X apartments, then having developers build Y parking spaces is both wasteful (since in the long run that building won't need Y parking spaces) and counterproductive. You want to build an amount of parking spaces that's in line with your goals, not what's needed to enable things you're trying to change.

Yes, you did inasmuch as you said people should be required to build parking.

Person A lives in a nice old house in a quaint neighborhood built before cars. They park their car on the street.

Time goes by. More people buy cars, and more people move in. The street parking becomes full.

Person A is outraged that their ability to park on the street is gone. They demand all new homes have off-street parking.

Newcomer to the neighborhood, say some weird hippie cyclist who doesn't own a car (like me), has to pay more for their home because the land that could have held 8 homes now holds 5.

Their property taxes help pay for person A's parking.

Of course, it doesn't work that well. Off-street parking _still_ takes up street space for access.

If people want parking they will demand it and pay more for it. Some people want helipads but we don't force everyone to have a private helipad in case they run out of space on the street for your helicopter.

Why do people demand parking minimums? Because the street parking is full.


Thank you for putting my thoughts into words much better that I could.

I'd just like to add that the "personal car" era might be coming to its end and we should work with that as well - underground garages are hard to convert to anything useful.

> has to pay more for their home because the land that could have held 8 homes now holds 5.

Yes, and the parking space itself costs a non-trivial amount of money (40-50k USD - if it has to be underground), especially for people in Eastern European metropolises.


Actually the disturbing part is that some people are forced to pay 50k USD more per apartment while other people not (and that's in a city where they're supposedly "solving the housing bubble") and on top of that get a parking space next to their building paid by the state - where can I get that?

Someone living on a farm would also pay all those taxes, except “municipal”, which isn’t a universal concept.

Considering they cause less external cost by parking their car on private property, either they are currently getting a raw deal, or you are not actually paying for all of what you are consuming.

Also: you’re just making stuff up when you claim the government has ever promised you universal free parking.


You're missing my point. These taxes contribute to state budget and then the government passes a law about the state budget for the next year (I'm european). There they specify purpose of various amounts of money - and a significant percentage of that is road maintenance, construction, etc.

If I pay all these taxes (thus contribute to the state budget as I should) I shouldn't pay for a parking space because the government is supposed to build that from my taxes.

And no, I'm not making anything up. There is zero reason why the government should build roads if not for sharing the whole infrastructure and providing everyone with the opportunity to use their car to go where they need (and, of course, park there - it'd be useless otherwise). There is huge precedent with public parking spaces literally everywhere, because European cities simply don't allow people to have their own parking places. Of course that backfires now because this made sense in the 80's but not today.

I'm not saying I'm against car regulation etc, that's another discussion. My point is that the government definitely should not take my money for what they don't do.


Road usage is taxed proportionally by gas taxes (and sometimes even tolls), Parking is not, because some people park on private property.

The rail network is also supported by taxes, yet train tickets still cost money. Cultural events are also often supported by taxes, yet they charge admission.


As I said, every year the state budget is separated to different purposes; in Europe here is no connection between what the tax is and what budget it will fill - everything is put to one money "bucket" (of course except for local taxes, similar process is used at local governments) and then the budget is created and that budget specifically includes public parking.

According to our constitution every person is equal, so why am I forced to pay 1 million CZK (45k USD, cost of building a parking spot - needs to be underground because of space constraints) more for an apartment just because I live in Prague? The government has simply decided that they don't want to do their job in this city while they happily do it literally all around the rest of the country, that is fair?

Why other cities or happier people in the rest of Prague can get public parking spaces with no further payments (in very few places there is a yearly fee, but that is okay, I would pay), and why calling it unfair is wrong?

I'm perfectly happy with people being forced to build their spaces on their property and I'm even completely fine with people not being able to have a car - but I'm definitely not going to pay for parking and then be happy with not getting any.


So you are saying that the town (8000 people) should have required the bank to put in 200 "additional" underground parking spaces?

A town with a regulation like that won't spend much time planning future expansion.


What basis, exactly, should they decide on? For a bank of all places they will know what an absurd waste an underground parking garage is.

Here's an analysis showing how absurdly expensive it is to make build built little houses for cars that are empty most of the time any time we want to do anything.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/420062


Underground parking may pose many problems for instance if you are in a flood-frequent area, if the ground is not so easy to modify etc. Sometimes maybe an option but not always.

In a small town, it's cheaper to go horizontal. Maybe in SF it makes sense to go vertical but not in a place where land is cheap.

The trouble is that requiring the parking is a big part of what makes places impossible or unpleasant to walk in in the first place. That bank would have been part of a nice walkable street but (if required to build all the parking) would be part of just another American asphalt hellscape. And who wants to walk in that?

I agree but I was commenting on economics. Western cities seemed to be planned around cars as opposed to walking and public transport. In my country we have the ideal of a large suburban house with a yard. This takes up space, which causes cities to spread out and cars become the norm.

A parking garage in sandpoint sounds a bit excessive. It isn’t Spokane.

I live in a small city (Alameda, CA) that has a couple of concentrated "downtown" areas with limited parking. The construction of a 6-story municipal parking garage as part of a large renovation of the old movie theater complex in 2008 was beneficial to all of the surrounding businesses. It seems like this is a pretty good general strategy, it just requires a large up-front investment by the city.

More details:

http://www.alamedatheatres.com/historic-theatre/

https://www.overaa.com/projects/alameda-historic-theatre-res...


What would have been even better is investment in a BART line that runs to Alameda. Getting on and off the island is horrible due to there being only 3-4 bridges/tunnels (IIRC). Of course, that would have been a larger up-front investment but one that they're now looking at.

http://www.oaklandmagazine.com/May-2018/BART-in-Alameda/


The theater/parking renovations totaled around $37 million. Bringing BART to Alameda is, according to your link, a 12 to 15 BILLION dollar project. That's 300 to 400 times more expensive.

That is an uncharitable comparison. 12 to 15 billion is the cost to build an entirely new transbay tube. The cost to tunnel BART from Oakland to Alameda would be a small fraction of that.

I’d certainly shop in Alameda vastly more frequently if it had a BART station. Heck, my wife would probably insist we move there, the reason we don’t live there is I insist that we live near a BART station.


Every business would prefer to have customers swipe parking provided by every other business. That way, the other businesses pay the cost of land for parking. It's a freeloader problem. Parking minimums exist to fix this.

You don't need parking minimums in the middle of nowhere, with businesses too far apart for swiping each other's parking spaces.

Customers really do go elsewhere if there are no spaces, but a business can't affordably provide the spaces if they will mostly be swiped by customers of other businesses.


   Parking minimums exist to fix this.
True, but it's not the only solution.

Other approaches include parking maximums, in particular, not allowing parking (e.g. inside dense city centres) at all, see e.g. [1] for such requirements in London. A hybrid solution would be shared parking only, so no business is allowed to have on-site parking. Various other alternatives exist.

[1] https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/london-plan-new-dev...


Every business will prefer someone else to handle parking. No business will survive if parking is not handled. Eventually, someone will pay for it, else no business will survive. And since we know businesses survive without parking minimums, we must therefore also know that a solution to your freeloading problem can be found without the requirement.

Also, parking minimums can omly make sense in the middle of nowhere. In a dense location, each business cannot be reasonably expected to build parking.. because the location is dense. Unless you spread out the buildings, to make it sparse enough to support each building owning x spaced... but I don’t think anyone wants to take a city and pretend its the middle of nowhere.

Parking minimums are neither a good solution, nor the only solution. I don’t know what the best solution is, but as above, alternative solutions obviously exist. My opinion: city-owned street parking + private lots offer a good setup; businesses shouldn’t be directly involved in parking lots, except as a worst case scenario (ikea/walmart 40 minutes out of the city proper)


A lot of people on here are big on just eliminating or drastically reducing parking in cities. That works fine if you live and work downtown and don't need a car otherwise. But I pretty much guarantee you that the vibrancy of your downtown is sustained to a large degree by people who don't live there coming in. I was just in the local city for dinner and a play last night. I can guarantee you that, to the degree traffic and parking make that too much of a chore (and, believe me, it's getting there) I'll just fire up a movie at home instead.

ADDED: Some cities (e.g. New York, London, various other European cores don't really lend themselves to driving in--though many people still do in the evenings--but that presupposes public transit that can comfortably substitute for driving in terms of convenience and cost).


Driving and transit are not the only two ways of getting around. There is also walking, which is both the cheapest form of transit to provide and also completely dependent on density in order to work. Places like Boston, London, and New York are not dense because they have great transit, they're dense because they predate things like parking minimums which would have prevented them from becoming dense in the first place. Their high density, in turn, drastically increases the efficiency of public transit, meaning a lot more people can be served by a given amount of transit spending. Parking minimums undermine all of this by forcing buildings to either be very far apart (to accommodate the parking lots) or very expensive (to pay for parking structures). Both of these things tend to make cities less vibrant and walkable, while also increasing economic inequality and carbon emissions.

This.

I think a lot of people's point here is that one of the biggest blockers to convenient public transport is high-density, and that parking lots are one of the things that is reducing density. 200 car spaces take up a lot more land area than the building itself!

Picture the middle of nowhere: There is a farm supply store, and the nearest other building is a mile away. There is no freeloader problem because nobody will walk a mile. If parking is not provided for every possible customer, the potential customers will be unable to shop. Worse yet, they will get in the habit of going elsewhere, and so they won't visit even on days when there is room to park. Thus there is no need to enforce a minimum.

In a dense location, each business can be reasonably expected to build parking... because the city requires it. Businesses don't get the option to ignore the city regulations.

In general, businesses don't survive without parking minimums. Businesses die all the time, falling into bankruptcy. There are a few that can survive on tourist foot traffic in the more-famous cities, selling junk like postcards and T-shirts. Businesses with enormous per-visit revenue can of course provide valet parking, so a 4-star Michelin restaurant might work. You're going to have a bad time running a Home Depot in a city without parking minimums.


>In a dense location, each business can be reasonably expected to build parking... because the city requires it.

Well, no, thats my point. A dense location... is dense. There’s not much room for n parking per business, at least directly where the shop is located. You meet the requirement by doing as the article does: destroying dense locations and forcing them to be sparse. Pretending that they live in the middle of nowhere, when in fact they’re in the heart of the city.

Parking garages/lots (lots of parking, shared by all stores) is a clearly more ideal solution: its much more compact. And there’s no real reason parking has to be located directly next to the businesses themselves; just nearby enough to make walking (like, well, any shopping mall)

So then you have the question of who pays for it — in a shopping mall, its built in by the mall. In a city designated shoping center, its built in by the city. But those are totally pre-planned situation. In a more organic environment, where parking minimums are meant to operate, it would either be a collective decision... or its independent of the businesses, and expanded as necessary, as any private garage works. And I’ve personally seen examples of this situation in LA, chicago, mumbai.... and probably any city that manages to exist without minimums.

The only way you can believe that parking has to have a minimum is if you believe parking must be free. But thats nowhere near true. In most cities, but not in a mall, its not free.

The freeloading problem in a dense location is trivially resolved by looking beyond the individual businesses, and realizing that parking itself is a market.

And the belief that its absolutely required is trivially disolved by... realizing parking minimums are already not the default, and so pretty much any successful city/area will constitute an example of it not being a necessity

Home depot/ikea are self-incentivized to build parking for themselves, because regardless of minimums, they tend to carve out a huge plot of land for themselves and exist independently of other businesss. They don’t sit in dense locations by their nature, and I don’t think you really want them to, and they barely share parking by their nature.


Maybe a good solution would be to have zoning systems for parking requirements so in dense areas the city would manage the parking making it shared and charge business according to their capacity or property area and at the same time charge users according to demand.

In a sparse location, with one or a few buildings off on their own, parking is free and self-incentivized, because there's simply no way around it (the business needs parking more than people need the business)

In an artificially dense location (eg parking mall/center), parking is free and its owned and maintained by the owners of the overall location, paid for by the business's rent.

In an organically dense location (eg chicago downtown, chinatowns, etc), a parking-market will inevitably exist, and garages/lots will be privately owned & maintained, paid for by, well, the price of parking.

Parking minimums seem to me to be an artificial solution to an artificial problem: the only time it might be effective is in the last case, and that's only if you believe parking should always be free. If you accept the parking-market, as most cities do, the market solves parking without issue. Zoning would just be a bandage solution, vulnerable to many edge cases, and likely lead to similar and perhaps even brand new mistaken outcomes.


You're being downvoted a lot (perhaps too much), mostly because I think people disagree with this view because it's very narrow. Parking minimums destroy locality and walkability and cause sprawl. Sprawl is bad in the large; it destroys communities and causes traffic.

Source: lived 4 years in Los Angeles, a city with pervasive minimum parking laws. Can't hide 101sq miles of parking spaces (https://la.curbed.com/2018/11/30/18119646/los-angeles-parkin...).


It's a false dichotomy between parking minimums that are too high, or that fail to account for existing under utilized parking, and no minimums. There are several projects I have seen built with insufficient parking that have created problems for surrounding businesses and homes, traffic safety issues, and a great business for shady towing companies.

I've always like the solution of the town/city center having limited to no parking. Then within walking/biking distance, but outside the centers, the city maintains or contracts out sufficient (distributed) parking in whatever form. Increasing the minimum required parking would of course cause they business to foot part of the bill.

What's shady about towing away cars of those that are essentially stealing parking? Or did I assume wrong?

towing companies are inherently shady: they're stealing your car, with little to no proof of justification, with little to no recourse, and charging you to get it back (often with obscenely inconvenient and long waiting periods). My friend has had his car towed from in front of his house, because his neighbor called it in thinking it was.. I dunno, ditched there?

And there's no recourse. He paid up, because it'd cost more and be a massive headache to try to fight it. I'm not sure there's anything stopping me from calling it in on any neighbor I dislike. (AAA has a weird setup as well; they've never once properly verified I owned the car I was having towed.. but they're not antagonistic, and the caller is verifiable by their AAA account, so I'm not worried about them as much)

The only thing that keeps towing companies in line is that if they caused too much trouble with their bullshit, they'd see repercussion from populace/city. But as long as they're justified 70% of the time they take your car, they'll keep on truckin'

I mean shit, how do you even consistently verify that the car was parked at the wrong business... you watch someone park and go into the neighboring business? 5 minutes later he goes to the correct one, and whoops, there goes his car.

There's not much difference between a well-behaving towing company and misbehaving one.


Parking facilities are like hash tables. They get less efficient (time) as they get more full. But they are also less efficient (space) when nearly empty.

Unfortunately for city planners, doubling the size of a lot when it becomes 80% full is not a cheap operation.


There's an area with a bunch of businesses all served only by street parking in the town by me. I never go there because I hate street parking. If they had parking lots I'd go there. I wonder how many other potential customers feel this way.

A town nearby where my parents live recently experimented with zoning some of their parking lots for development and expanding street parking in the (small) downtown core, an area full of small shops and restaurants, mostly. The street parking had meters, which were very cheap (I think the maximum you could spend was something like $3 a day). The local residents revolted, business owners claimed their income was taking a hit, etc. At the time, I wondered how in the world this seemingly thriving, walkable little downtown was so dependent on giant free parking lots behind the main strip... it seemed crazy to me that someone would stop going to a restaurant they enjoyed because their $50 bill for dinner turned into a $51.50 night out with parking fees.

I'm not saying you're wrong to dislike street parking, its just such a foreign concept to me that someone would avoid an entire otherwise-nice area because there is plentiful parking that doesn't suit their tastes. Kind of weird to see it written out like that.


It's not just the meter fee, but getting into the space (if a space is between two cars I'll just go farther to find an easier space), having to watch for a safe moment to get out of the car, getting out of the space (especially if traffic is busy or people came up too close in front of or behind me), and the meters themselves can be a source of annoyance here because they take their time authorizing the credit card charge.

With all that, I find it more convenient to mostly just go to the grocery store which has a parking lot, and order in.

As a side note, I also hate street parking as just a driver passing through because it so often makes the street suffocatingly narrow and I have to watch out for people coming and going.


in addition to what other replies said, i don't mind the electronic meters often found in parking lots that take credit cards. i can't use the typical coin-op street meter because I don't have coins and haven't regularly carried them in over a decade.

Same concept with free shipping. People really like it, even if the total cost is higher.

Are meter fees the primary complaint about street parking? They don't really factor into it for me.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/Dunedin-shuts-...

This is an article from the town in my example above - comments from business owners make it seem like, yes, the primary issue really was that people don't want to pay anything at all to park.

(A couple of years after the controversial paid street parking experiment started, a new mixed-use development with a public parking garage on the ground level opened up. The garage is still free to park in to this day. Somebody paid a lot of money for those garage spaces, and is seemingly very afraid of charging anything to use them)


Meter fees are annoying not because of the nominal value of the coins you put in them, but because of the fines you can accumulate if you forget to feed it the quarters and dimes it needs. Parking enforcement is typically very strict in most cities and downtowns, and its common to hear someone complain about receiving a fine because they lost track of time while shopping or something. I would say it has a chilling effect on businesses that thrive on browsing type of behaviour.

An interesting city to look at parking is Madison, WI. Because the heart of downtown is physically restricted by an isthmus, there are many public parking ramps.

https://www.cityofmadison.com/parking-utility/garages-lots


Seems like a reasonable requirement to have a certain number of parking spots for new construction. If anything it needed to be modified to apply pain for making the choice to build parking at street level (vs underground or multi level parking) by applying a penalty against the sq foot footprint of parking installations that feeds back into the cost equation for the buildings. IE, if the requirement is to have 200 spots for a specific building adding those spots by buying blocks of land for flat parking increase the requirement count by a ratio of the land used to supply the spots. Given a properly sized ratio the builders will have a choice of a cheaper underground/multilevel parking system or a much more "expensive" flat parking lot.

I have noticed a weird left-right political reversal around parking in the US. Or maybe it's not entirely left-right but wonk-populist.

The voices that most loudly condemn socialism and regulation suddenly become advocates for government-run parking and against deregulation of private-sector parking. (For example: https://twitter.com/KCGOP/status/1067502185099841536)


I feel like I have misunderstood your post. I'm assuming by "voices that most loudly condemn socialism and regulation", you mean the GOP? But the article linked doesn't seem to complain about deregulation of private-sector parking, but rather to complain about giving over parking to bike lanes and government run buses.

Where is the part where they want government run parking and regulations on private sector parking?


Maybe it really is more about shifting priorities away from cars and towards more green uses like bike lanes and buses.

That specific example doesn't touch on parking minimums, and maybe deregulating those are less of a political hot button, but the fact that they remain pretty much ubiquitous in the US suggests that there is still some opposition.

But there also seems to be a lack of faith that the private sector will step in a replace the public sector spots that have been converted to other uses, as well as opposition to charging a market-clearing price for the remaining government-run spots.


beautiful writing and a beautiful approach to building consensus

From an European standpoint, this text reads like a nightmarish dystopia. I find solace in the trend towards banning cars altogether inside the cities.

Agreed, although for small communities, public transport doesn't always work.

Coincidentally, the author's bio says he now lives in Seattle, which has truly awful traffic. They could have banned traffic in e.g. South Lake Union when it was being developed and didn't.


> for small communities, public transport doesn't always work

For very small towns, you can walk. For mid-size villages, you take the bike. For cities, there is a public transportation network. In exceptional circumstances you can take a cab or an uber. If you want a week-end in a remote site, you can easily rent a car. I see zero need of owning a car for the general population, and I have never had or needed one.


If you're lucky enough to be able to walk or cycle, great - I love living in places like that, and currently don't own a car.

But I grew up in a small, isolated village (in Europe, as the other comment notes). When your bus ride to school (on public transport, not a school bus) takes 40mins+, walking or cycling just isn't practical. So please, rural communities have it hard enough already without presumption or condescension. A bit of empathy goes a long way, although I guess it's easier to just assume everyone lives a certain way.


Well, I'll take it on good faith that this was bad for you.

But lets see my last few commutes.

* Now; walk 15 minutes (mid/small-size european city; population 350k)

* 4-8 years ago: 20-50 minutes on tube (living close to work was prohibitively expensive) (this was London, so, large city)

* 8 years ago: 40 minutes (Helsinki, pop: 1.4m)

* 10 years ago: 1hr 20m (mid-size UK city; pop 1m)

So although recently, yes I have had better commute times, it's not uncommon or insane to have commutes that stretch 40 minutes.

Of those commutes, the only one that would be improved by having a car would be the 10yr one (I was going to college and couldn't have a car then, it would be impossible to pay for it barring everything else)

The others could really not improve, London traffic is insane, the Helsinki train system moves significantly faster than traffic, I walk today, and if I were to cycle it would take me even less time.


Unless automated cars really become good enough the need for self owned cars will always be there. I live in Singapore which has a very good public transport system and it's extremely expensive to own and keep a car so most people use public transport and 30-40min or more Transit time to work and school is common. So your 40 min time school commute doesn't sound that bad to me.

Fair enough, I'm happy to turn this into a Monty Python sketch. Frequency also matters. For my particular route this was roughly once an hour during business hours, and nothing after 8pm. This is not so rare [0].

[0] not where I grew up, privacy, but comparable: https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/544/931...


For those who didn't catch your (brilliant and well-placed) Monty Python reference:

Four Yorkshiremen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26ZDB9h7BLY


I think we can safely say that different levels of urbanization can have different policies. Or we could unify it under land value taxes ;)

It's basically essential for rural living (e.g. most of Scotland outside the cities and islands). Cars are also a mobility aid; trying to go cycle-only can come across as abilist. Not all cities have usable public transport. At best there are some cities where you can get away without a car almost all of the time.

Until the mid / late 1960s there simply weren't individually owned cars in rural British villages beyond the doctor, vet and perhaps postmaster. In Donegal in Ireland it was like that into the 80s!

I assume the grocery stores back then were probably smaller and more centrally located.

And women were less likely to go out to work, so they could spend a day schlepping around the shops to buy what they needed. Yes, people shopped at the local corner store - which means a narrower range of goods at higher prices. A rather different world of pre-decimal currency.

But also significantly lower carbon emissions!

I love how whenever people talk about banning cars in cities everyone comes out of the woodwork and screams “but what about the rural towns?!?!”.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but rural towns aren’t cities.


HN is very US centric. In the US state politics are almost always dominated by one or a couple of cities. And the generally dominate in a ways that results in rural and suburban folk are basically told to screw off if they don't like it. The reason people come out of the woodwork to scream "but what about rural areas" is that the fear is that cities will get policies enacted at the state level that make it more expensive to own/operate a vehicle statewide rather than improve alternatives (costs money, whereas taxing cars makes money) or just raise costs in the city.

Basically people are worried about a lead balloon like NY-SAFE but for cars.

I'd be perfectly fine if the major city in my state made it more expensive to use a car in the city so long as there was an proportional increase in the quantity of park and ride lots at the ends of the rail network and reliability of that rail service. What would happen in reality is that they'd just raise the cost, the parking garages would all be full at 6am instead of 7am and the rail network would be even worse because it would be handling more volume and the money made would be used on pork and graft. Nobody's quality of life would be improved save politicians who suddenly have more money to spend on salaried government jobs they can appoint the friends/relatives of people they want on their side to and the people appointed to those jobs.


But even in the relatively narrow scenario you describe, there is an immediate benefit for those living and working in the city, which is that there is significantly less car traffic, which means less noise and pollution and greater safety (also access for emergency vehicles etc). And, over the longer term, fewer cars within the city means that roads can be narrowed and sidewalks widened. And this is all without even considering where the increased taxes would actually be spent.

pjc50 and my post indicate the same happens in Europe, it isn't just the US. otherwise, agreed, I don't think anybody argued cities need more cars and less public transport.

In this case I was replying to:

"For very small towns, you can walk. For mid-size villages... I see zero need of owning a car for the general population"; so not just cities.


I think it's safe to say Scotland is more remote/rural than most of the regions being discussed.

But, if we consider Blairgowrie (a fairly typical farming town), you could get by without a car if you lived and worked in town. The Tesco isn't in the best location for walking (because it's surrounded by a giant underutilized parking lot). But, the large Co-op in town is walkable. And the small Co-op is walkable for the houses along Coupar Angus Rd.

My parents owned a house on the outskirts of town and I could walk to the Wellmeadow in 10 minutes or so.

There is regular bus service to Perth and Dundee, so you can get into the cities for doctors appointments and suchlike.

But, for a farmer who lives outside town, I agree, a car is going to be a necessity. And for people living in town, a car is nice to have, just not absolutely required.


It depends on the population density more than city size, I think.

I grew up in eastern Poland - it's a region with few big cities about 50 km apart on average, but there's well developed public transport between them, because countryside is relatively densely populated (even if it's just a chain of villages - it adds up).

Half the population of these villages commute to the big city 20-30 km away every day. People still own cars because it's convenient for shopping and family trips, but they don't need to use them every day for commute.

On the other hand you can have medium or big cities with mostly empty countryside between them (like in western Poland), and a car is required if you happen to live between these cities.

For reference - Poland has about 120 people per square km and is near the average for EU. USA has about 35 people per square km.


For very small towns

For very small towns the nearest X is probably at least a 4 hour walk away, in the next town over, for many values of X. For large cities the nearest X is probably a 4 minute walk away for most values of X. The smaller the town the less chance that what you want is within walking distance and the more important it is to have a car.


As an example I have personal experience of, for most of the west coast of Scotland the nearest collection of large shops, banks, etc is in Inverness - which is a 2 hour drive or 24 hour walk.

Smaller towns have more need of cars than large ones, to get out of the town.


I'd posit that we are going to have a very hard time fighting off climate change if we aren't allowed to do anything to discourage people from driving 40 minutes to a nearby town every time they want to go shopping. The transportation sector is the biggest carbon emitter, and at some point we have to come to terms with the fact that in order to reduce our carbon emissions, we are all going to have to drive a lot less.

The problem isn't just that people have to drive far to get anywhere, it's also that delivery vehicles have to drive far out of their way to deliver stuff to these places.

Then you can go there by car. But why would you need to use the car inside the town, once you are there?

You probably haven't been to North Idaho - I live just south of Sandpoint. Sure you can get around town with a bike but the reason you live there is to get into the mountains via back roads (dirt, gravel) that have little up keep, and to be away from it all. Ski resort is 20 minutes up the mountain.

Moreover, the nearest city (45k pop) is 45 minutes south and the nearest major airport is 1.5 hours away. You will need a car, unless you are comfortable just bumming it in town all the time.

Northern Idaho is closer to small towns in Iceland.


You assume everyone is living in dense cities of various sizes. But if you live in a rural area where distances are large and public transport is spotty, a car is almost a necessity to get from A to B in useful time.

For small villages, the necessary infrastructure, like grocery stores, hospitals, town halls, can be 2-20km away. In the winter, the roads might be completely impassable. That has car-related consequences for the towns where those amenities are.

While I'd like for cars to be eliminated, it's not happening in sparse areas.


So much of Europe also lives in climate easy mode. Try a harsh Canadian winter on your bike.

It's tough not having a car if you have small children.

I have two kids. And yes, it is indeed tough, but not because I don't own a car.

Try having children without a car.

Millions of people do, dude.

I know, but very few of them do so by choice.

Surely a town with a population of 6000 an a city with a population of 2 million can have different rules and norms.

Walking works for small communities (at least in Europe).

Unless you want to go somewhere outside those communities

Downvoted? A friend of mine lives in a small village (because they had a child on the way and needed a bigger, cheap place to live). The bus leaves two times a day, not at all on sunday and the next train station is 20 minutes by car.

Is it still cheap if you factor in car cost + car maintenance?

He needs a car for his job anyway, so yeah. But even otherwise possibly, the rent in the city here would be twice as much for half the space.

Europe seems pretty happy with the train.

Because every village or even town has access to rail.. Yeah, right.

I live in a small community in the rural American South, everything is too spread out to get anywhere quickly by walking. It's like a 7 minute drive to my post office. Lots of houses on my street living on pretty big parcels of land.

I wish, though! I hate how dependent I am on my car for transportation.


Perhaps you are from NL, Denmark, Germany or Sweden. Traffic management in Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Greece is insane (and you can't even take a right when it's red!)

You can't in Germany, either.

You can't anywhere in continental Europe it seems.

Not generally allowed, but there are signs allowing it almost everywhere.

The Grünpfeil (green arrow) traffic sign that allows right turns through a red light was actually invented in the GDR, so it's more common in East Germany.

Source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%BCnpfeil


Maybe 50% or less where I live. Never counted but certainly not even close to "almost everywhere"

And exactly why is insane in Spain?

The articles seems to setup a false choice between having minimums and not having them. In fact from reading the article, the problem wasn't the minimums per se, it was the fact that they were excessive and didn't account for parking factors that varied across different parts of the town. It's a classic bit of over regulation with backlash shown by the author that "regulation bad", when in reality it's just that regulation was still needed, it just needed to be more nuanced.

I do not know how parking/constructions are ruled in the USA however here (France) and in my origin country (Italy) it was common to have minimum park space for any new building in cities simply because we are out of parking space, going from A to B in a city often take far less than orbiting around B looking for a parking lot...

IMO the problem reside in city concept itself: in the past we need cities because we need to be together around water, together to have services, to being able to defend ourselves etc now those needs are substantially disappear or marginal but space need it start to be a super-serious problem. Basically we can't evolve a city simply because we are so dense that we can't reach agreements to destroy something old to build something new or even if we can reach such agreements costs are so high that no one face them looking for other options.

IMO the sole thing we can and should and must do is start to limit population like "only one child per capita" incentives to child-less peoples etc and start to create distributed place to live make easier work from remote as much as possible, make ease to travel around the country but without "concentrated place" except for factories, official buildings etc that need a small scale concentration.


I disagree. High density cities are more energy efficient and ecological than sprawling ones. The solution to this is public transport, not density restrictions. No one living in a city should have to own a car in the first place.

Try to compute how much energy you need to build and maintain a dense city than a sprawling suburb. Try to compute evolution possibilities of a dense area than a sparse one. Try to compute the magnitude of any disaster from natural phenomenon to human-made ones on a dense area than the countryside.

I have lived in a dense and modern big European city, now I'm living on mountains: cost, quality of life, energy efficiency etc are far superior here than in a city. No matter how developed is public transportation that's it's regularly inefficient because to handle peak time it work at a very bad efficiency for the rest of the year and you can't reduce it without hurting people freedom.


Many people have done this math and have researched this extensively. Urban environments on average are significantly more ecological, more efficient, than sprawl, on a per person basis.

The amount of energy required to build and maintain 500,000 people spread across suburbs is far more than 500,000 in a dense city. The amount of material needed for construction, especially cement goes up massively. Services are able to serve less people, so require more quantity of doctors, grocers, power stations, etc per capita, requiring more land and space and waste. The fact that individuals need to use cars in less dense environments vs many exclusively using shared services such as public transit in dense cities, which are ridiculously more ecological.


Many people have done it wrong, few start to acknowledge this these days. For instance many compute how much fuel consume a bus to transport maximum load of people vs that number of people in individual cars. They do, of course, a right computation, only they forget a thing: if bus goes only full nobody will use them (too uncomfortable), normally they goes with very few people inside for most of the time, so they consume more than individual cars during the day/year except at few peak times.

Same for undergrounds: many compute how much electricity they consume, but omit to compute how much energy you need to create, maintain and evolve them.

Same for buildings: many confront how much energy is needed to heat or cool a building instead of individual houses, but they omit a thing: individual houses can evolve, being demolish for instance by children when parent's dead, tall buildings are normally not demolished and rebuilt as a result their energy efficiency is far behind individual houses (I have proven myself switching from an apartment in a big city far less cold than my actual individual home), also type of material you need to build a tall (and safe) building is far less recyclable than many individual houses.


So are there studies that show where the others went wrong? Or do you argue based on a gut feeling?

I can't link any right now, I've reading few on paper and deducted others from news: try only looking at actual mass of studies for "sustainable city", essentially NO ONE of them sustain that actual cities works/are sustainable, and substantially anyone try to find a "sustainable city" model with many different draconian changes to actual model.

Same goes for many "green buildings" innovation that keeps popping around and generally result in failure from "communist buildings" to "integrated social buildings".

Also simply look for and feel on your skin the quality of life in cities than in countyside/the riviera. And in dense countries vs far less dense one.


Stop digging your (energy-efficient, metaphorical) grave! You lost this argument five levels up when you started making assertions explicitly in conflict with the laws of physics.

I can understand if you prefer the countryside: maybe you don't enjoy how people continuously try to correct you when you're wrong. Or these bike-riding eco-hippies just smell funny.

But then you should be glad that others enjoy cities (and logic): if we try to evenly disperse them among the liveable space of the earth, I guarantee you there will be some neighbours moving in far to close for your comfort.


Ok, so I imaging that the fact I heat my home with far less bill that my ancient and smaller apartment was a figment of my imagination... Also I imaging that the total (semi-public) skyrocketing high cost of public transportation in my old city per capita are higher than the cost of private transportation in the countryside again per capita because of someone conspiracy...

What you do not understand is that we do not live since today for today, we do not build new cities and houses from ground to the ceiling today. We need to evolve and we can evolve far more in the countryside as a result while in theory tall buildings are more efficient than single houses, in practice we have more "newer" individual houses and less newer tall building so in the end the practice is the opposite.

Perhaps you do not even understand why speed trains does not gain traction in the USA but works well enough in French because of the urbanization level of certain area those density are so high that the cost of "pierce" the urbanized area is so high nobody try to sustain.

Essentially you study too much the details that you loss the sight of the big picture, a common mistake these days.


It is simply a physical fact that surface area goes down as building size goes up. (You have to build very tortured buildings for this to be untrue.) Consequently, dense settlements will be easier to insulate and will lose less energy per tenant. There are many other effects of scale kicking in too.

Arguing about the quality of life is something else with different trade offs. I'd say ban cars from city centers and then we start talking about quality of life.


Nope. Because the real world is complex, it doesn't only matter how much surface you occupy but also how much prime matters and energy you need to build a thing, tall buildings need far more powerful concrete foundation and steel than individual houses. Witch means more natural resource used to build them. Also steel and concrete are far less recyclable than wood. Also individual houses may occupy soil surface without destroying it too much, for instance, at least in most part of EU individual houses foundation are only underground horizontal beams with some poles that popup vertically (60-100cm high) from them leaving the rest of the soil natural ground. If tomorrow you destroy the house nature came back on the soil in an year. If you destroy a tall building nature came back (humus in soil) in more than ten year.

Your other inane comment argues single-family houses are so much more efficient because they regularly get torn down & replaced. Make up your disturbed mind!

My English is poor but I think I explain my point in a clear enough manner, in synthesis:

- big buildings demand more resources to being built, in terms of concrete, steel etc and require deeper foundation that destroy ground humus far more than correspondent single houses;

- big buildings are in medium older than single family houses simply because demolish and rebuild them cost big money and it's practically impossible for many reasons (reach agreements between all involved landlords, not enough space around for work, new norms hard to respect in the available space/site etc) so they consume in medium more energy than single houses;

- cities was a need for various reasons in the past but they are not anymore and modernize them as much as we can with improved public transportation etc cost far more than private transportation in a distributed area.

For all the above I consider a bad idea living in a city, I consider in more and more unsustainable. And recently many people around the world start to know that hard on their skin...

If you do not want to understand I can't help, my mind works well and I was capable and lucky enough to switch from a big city to a wonderful mountain area without loosing anything I really consider valuable.


Since we must assume that built-over land will remain built-over, it's irreleveant to what depth it's constructed. Fact is that dense settlements use an order of magnitude less ground.

You forgot to mention how much ground all those residential roads will destroy. Those don't help your argument.


Population is not constant and specially is not constant in any land, people tend to move following work opportunity, quality of life, to escape crisis etc. So no, while these change are slow in general they are and it's always a mess to handle "abandoned" towns than abandoned single homes...

About roads: try to think how much material you need and regularly consume in a town vs countryside roads, also imaging not today but in an imaginary tomorrow world how much roads we will need in a really low dense country vs in "megacities".

Without counting what happen in case of floods or other problems in a town vs elsewhere and the relevant cost to repair. Only imaging september 11th in a country without dense urban agglomeration: how much victims, costs, effects it may have had in such scenario?

What help my arguments are tons of small things grouped together, the sole things it doesn't help is hospital/emergency service proximity in case of need, but that's compensated by a properly organized sanitary system and a strong public investments in that sector (a thing we desperately need also for many other reasons). Another is the problem of few residual but important labor-intensive activities that require many, many people in a concentrated place, but again this is less and less important thanks to automation.

A simple, yet stupid arguments, that my clearly demonstrate advantage of single can be: what if there was a strike, a big one, and you do not found anymore essence for your car? In a town substantially anything can't work anymore, electric public transportation may work but see Gilet Jaunes in France today and Paris status these days. In the countryside nearly anyone have a big tank (500/1000 liter) of reserve. There is place for that. There is place for keep large quantity of food (perhaps with dual-energy freezer electricity/butane gas with enough cylinders, around 20Kg/month to give a quantity) etc. Imaging only elevators out of services due to a short electricity outage.


You're ignoring facts. Again. Building and maintaining roads and utilities into urban sprawl is very expensive. Public transport is less effective there. The bigger the area you need to protect against floods, the harder it becomes. Cities hardly ever move, they grow.

And the horror scenarios? Please, people in the country will be hit just the same when they can't get gas anymore. Or when the food supply stops.

What you're saying is: "Wouldn't it be nice if we all lived in the countryside?" That idea has crashed decades ago. It's unrealistic. Please stop.


So unrealistic that it's become a common practice in most developed countries... Try asking a Swedish or a French (with exception of few Parisian) what they think about cities.

BTW try to determine cost per capita of countryside living and city living, also notice that foods normally came from country and sea, not from cities, oil&gas tend to be the same (how many oil/gas extraction are done inside NY?)...

This idea crashed only in few countries, mostly from the third world, in the developed world only USA, Russia and eastern Europe.


> try to determine cost per capita of countryside living and city living

Only to have you telling me I'm doing it wrong based on personal anecdotes? No thanks. I have no trust it would lead to a useful discussion.

> also notice that foods normally came from country and sea, not from cities,

Food and gas don't come out of suburbia either. What's your point?

> This idea crashed only in few countries, mostly from the third world, in the developed world only USA, Russia and eastern Europe.

What third-world countries? It's not 1960 anymore. People all over the world are moving into large cities. They are not waiting for the cities to build the roads and pipes your idea requires.


>Also simply look for and feel on your skin the quality of life in cities than in countyside/the riviera. And in dense countries vs far less dense one.

Well yes, living on the countryside with a big house and car and all amenities may be nicer than living in an apartment in the city. But you should keep in mind that that's a luxury. And a rather wasteful one at that. It might end up not being that much more expensive for you, but that's because people living in the cities are subsidizing your lifestyle through their taxes.


I pay taxes as well... And not less than people in cities, like I was until few years ago...

I do not consider it a luxury but a different development model that may led to a "luxury" life without the need of other's sacrifice.

Consider a thing: we do not produce foods in towns, we (normally) do not have factories in towns so towns live of the shoulder of productive people outside, they can't live without them. In the countryside you suffer without a "countrywide development" but you still survive. In towns you generally have only tertiary sector's workers, no more.


> if bus goes only full nobody will use them

How can it be full if nobody is using it!?


Sorry for my poor English, I meant if a bus is constantly full people start avoiding it simply because of discomfort, in few times request to bring more buses/more frequent lines start to rain to the transport company and as a result we get more buses used at a lower capacity or more private transport to avoid discomfort...

Have you run these numbers? I think you’re assuming the results because for most of your questions the answers are not what you seem to be implying .

You can't beat the energy efficiency of dense urban housing with modern insulation. What are you comparing?

You forget a thing: cities are not made today from ground up, most of buildings are old construction with far less isolation and air tightness than individual houses. Of course individual houses are not built all today but they are far frequently rebuild from ground up than bigger buildings resulting in a far superior median isolation.

Evolvability matter and too many fail to take that into account. We do not live today, since and for today.


Right? My parents home consumes an order of magnitude more electricity per month, despite only being 3x bigger. Turns out reducing exterior walls helps.

Try looking around your country: how many modern, well isolated, airtight, tall buildings there are in percentage than modern, isolated etc single houses?

In Sweden for instance most of the buildings are "ancient" enough to be far less efficient than newer one, most of individual houses (that are build generally with a very poor quality and little price) are newer and as a result far better isolated. Also they are easy to be recycled since have far less concrete and far more wood than tall buildings.

In France situation is less different since houses tend to be kept for longer time and they are not build until few years with much energy efficiency attention, however they are still a bit more efficient than buildings since they tend to be a bit "newer" in medium.


My parents home was new too. So this wasn’t a “new apartment vs. half century old home” situation. I also lived in a more extreme climate too.

Well my personal case is a mid-size apartment (130m², ~1399ft²) in a building built in the end of the sixties to a newly build home around 210m²/2260ft².

Old apartment was heated by a central methane based burner, new house by a VMC with a heat pump and a two solar thermal vacuum panel + 800l heat cumulus (~28ft³/ 211 US gal / 176 UK gal), whole cost dropped around 80%, whole energy consumption drop from around 300-350w×m²/years to around 25w×m²/years...

But in medium in the whole country individual homes are newer than tall buildings mostly because they tend to be poor quality to a point that's cheap demolish and rebuild than maintain and also tall buildings are normally property of many different subjects so reach agreements on any upgrade / maintenance is far complex than individual houses and physical space and usable ground for construction around the home is normally far more present than around a tall building...

Keep attention that I always talk about mean values, not single buildings.

Another thing, I do not know in the USA but in Italy and France construction norms are less tight for airtightness in collective buildings than individual houses, airtightness often play a more prominent role than insulation thickness in term of energy cost. I do not know in big buildings how for instance a VMC (mechanically controlled ventilation with heat exchanger) can possibly work...




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