Donald Shoup’s New Book


Donald Shoup’s New Book

UCLA Professor Donald Shoup made a name for himself and the parking industry in 2005 when he published his treatise The High Cost of Free Parking. The book made him a “Parking Rock Star” and the “go to guy” for media when sage parking quotes were needed.

“Many people think parking is like sex, if you have to pay for it it’s just not right.” This quote from Donald Shoup’s new book, Parking and the City, didn’t come from the hit HBO series of a similar name, Sex and the City, but it might have.

Parking and the City is an anthology of 51 short pieces written by learned academics, consultants and wags from around the world and focused on supporting Shoup’s three parking reforms from his original piece:

• Remove Off Street Parking Requirements

• Charge the Right Prices for On Street Parking

• Spend the Parking Revenue to Improve Public Services on the Metered Street

In his introduction, Shoup considers himself an academic “bottom feeder.” He notes that universities have a hierarchy of subjects and parking is the lowest rung on the ladder. His goal is to bring parking to its rightful place, considering, as he notes, that most of the problems in major cities can be traced to the fact that there is too much parking and it’s priced wrong. 

Parking, which should be a policy discussion, quickly becomes an emotional one, turning, he says, “staunch conservatives into ardent communists.” “Thinking about parking,” he continues, “takes place in the reptilian cortex, the most primitive part of the brain.” The part of the brain that controls the fight or flight issue, that helps us decide how to eat dinner and not be dinner.

He notes that some abhor planning, except for parking. Others strongly support market pricing, except for parking. Some oppose subsidies, except for parking. The list goes on. 

Shoup’s style is easy to read and filled with his often-self-deprecating humor. When he speaks about Parking Requirements being a kluge, that is an awkward but temporarily effective solution to a problem, he adds the line “Microsoft users will easily understand this concept.” 

“Parking Requirements may look scientific,” he continues, “but compared with the current science behind parking requirements, Scientology is a science and the Wizard of Oz is a scientist. Parking requirements are a step up from astrology, but several steps short of the Farmer’s Almanac. They give pseudoscience a bad name.”

His 50-page introduction continues in this vein, laying out his goals clearly and preparing the reader for real-world back up of his theories. Reading a piece by Donald Shoup can be fun, but it will also force you to think about the subject. He is controversial, but his ideas are easy to understand, and backed up with considerable research. 

The meat of the book is divided into three parts, paralleling his three parking reforms listed above. The authors take liberally from Shoup’s original work and carefully source from their own and other work. Much of the material is original research done for university and municipal studies.

Shoup himself penned or partnered in over a third of the 51 chapters joining authors you may have read in Parking Today or heard at PIE including Mike Manville, Richard Willson, Rachael Weinberger, Seth Goodman, Paul Barter, Michael Klein, Jay Primus, Peer Ghent, and Maria Irshad.

Titles come from all directions including Parking Benefit Districts in Beijing, Park Parking and Free Wi-Fi in Ventura, Ending the Abuse of Disabled Parking Placards, SFPark, LA Express Park, Parking and the Environment, Buffalo Abandons Parking Requirements, Parking Policy in Asian Cities: Conventional but Instructive, Parking Mismanagement, a Prescription for Congestion and People, Parking, and Cities.

Each is less than 10 pages and easy to ingest in one sitting. This is a book those in the parking profession should read. It may not solve all your problems, but it will get you to think about them from a different perspective.

In his Epilogue, Shoup quotes Abraham Lincoln “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew” and Dwight Eisenhower, “We – you and I – and our government  – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

“Planning professors,” Shoup continues, “rarely end a book or lecture with quotes from two Republican presidents, but I hope most people will agree their advice applies to the need for parking reforms.”

“Trying to reform your own city’s parking policies may feel like paddling a canoe to tow an aircraft carrier but if enough people paddle, the ship will move. I hope Parking and the City will encourage planners, politicians, and citizens to begin paddling. Reform depends on leadership from all of you.”

Shoup considers himself a disciple. He rarely passes up a chance to lecture, whether it’s to a major city’s governing body or the local Rotary. He has developed quite a following, called Shoupistas, is an avid tweeter @DonaldShoup, and is currently Distinguished Research Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA.

John Van Horn is Editor of Parking Today. He can be reached at

Parking and the City

Edited by Donald Shoup

©2018 Taylor and Francis

Published by Routledge

New York, NY 10017

It is Available on Amazon.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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