New research: The ‘hidden toll’ of having more parking spaces than people

By Benjamin Schneider, San Francisco Examiner, March 3, 2022

“With more than 15 million parking spaces, the nine-county Bay Area has twice as many as it has people. Lined up in a row end to end, all of those parking spots would encircle the earth 2.3 times.

“Those are the top-line findings from a new census of the region’s parking supply by SPUR and the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI). The [open access] report represents the most comprehensive look yet at this ubiquitous type of infrastructure and its unintended consequences. All of that parking undermines public transit systems, worsens housing affordability, and stands in the way of environmental targets, the report finds.

“The study found that parking and roadways make up 20 percent of land in incorporated areas of the Bay Area.

“While our region might be slightly less asphalt-saturated than others, the data still demonstrates that ‘the Bay Area has too much parking,’ [“said Laura Tolkoff, transportation policy director at SPUR and one of the authors of the parking census.”]

“In a follow-up report slated for release at the end of March, SPUR is planning to make several recommendations about how the region should address what it describes as a glut of parking.

“Longer term, all of the parking in the Bay Area represents a big opportunity for new uses. If only 1 percent of the region’s parking area were rebuilt as housing, it could yield more than 12,000 units, SPUR found; if 5 percent were redeveloped, it could yield 68,000 units.”

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