The Need for a Comprehensive Parking Management Program


The Need for a Comprehensive Parking Management Program

The article I wrote, “The False Promise of High-Tech Metered Parking,” published in the September 2012 issue of Parking Today magazine, posed a question: How can a strategic comprehensive parking plan for cities, hospitals, colleges and universities be created at the lowest possible cost to parkers that would result in making all public parking economically self-sustaining?
As discussed in that article, metered street parking spaces
are engineered for short-term hourly parkers, namely shoppers, business visitors, restaurant diners, entertainment goers, patients, students, etc. Current parking management is based on the assumption that advanced high-tech parking meters, coupled with an adjustable rate setting system, will solve parking problems.
This is not true, for several reasons:
First, in reality, metered parking spaces constitute only a fraction of the total number of parking spaces in a city, perhaps as little as 15%. Second, it ignores the needs of long-term parkers, such as “rush hour” working commuters and urban residents without off-street parking.
Third, in the majority of cities short-term hourly parking rates, as well as off-street lots and garages, are too expensive for all-day commuting workers five days a week throughout the year. Fourth, many cities place a maximum parking period of four hours on metered spaces.
Lastly, in many areas, there is a lack of convenient off-street parking lots and garages, which forces the working commuter to “cruise” for an open parking space no matter how far the walk or the cost, sometimes having to gamble that they will not get a ticket. To believe that a parking meter, no matter how technically advanced, can solve all of these parking problems in a city is simply wishful thinking.
The actual problem is that the two parking groups, long- and short-term parkers, are in competition for the same convenient metered spaces. Underlying this “given problem” is the actual problem: The general assumption is, first, that there is no difference between the needs of long- and short-term parking; and second, there is little if any convenient or reserved economical parking for long-term working commuters or urban residents who have no off-street parking.
While central business district (CBD) garages are centrally located, all-day rates can average $32 in large cities, which is simply too expensive for most working commuters or, for that matter, businesses that supplement employee parking.
“Early bird” pricing results, in many cases, in pushing the small parking business to the breaking point. This, in turn, results in reducing operating and maintenance budgets, or in public parking facilities, increasing taxes or parking rates, or both.
What are the most important objectives that a city parking management plan must have to be successful?
The plan must satisfy the needs of both short- and long-term parkers, including location convenience, timing and cost.
The program must be comprehensive citywide, and preferably “urban wide.”
Long-term parking must be affordable, less expensive than metered curb parking, and not subject to change for extended periods of time (i.e., years).
Long-term parking must be separate from short-term parking, and as a result, free up metered curb spaces for short-term shoppers, visitors and small businesses.
The program must be flexible and capable of adapting to the needs and affordable pricing of individual commercial, institutional, residential and/or mixed-use neighborhoods and areas.
The program must be capable of generating large sums of non-tax revenues for cities.
The program must be financially self-sustainable and capable of continuing indefinitely.
On-going operational revenues must be shared with the city.
Participating neighborhoods must share in the revenues and participate in directing and managing the use of shared funds for neighborhood preservation streetscape and local park improvements, and future parking needs.
The program will not require the city to sell or enter into an extensively long-term lease (e.g., 50, 75 or even 100 years)
of existing parking facilities, nor cost the city any
construction development or manufacturing expenses of
new or existing facilities.
The program will solve or significantly contribute to solving current parking and traffic problems and preventing environmental impacts.
The program will involve private sector business investment and management through Public Private Partnerships,
where the private partners will be responsible for the
financing of construction, debt guarantees and skilled operational management.
The program will not interfere with a city’s regulatory responsibilities and laws, or with long-term planning and policymaking (i.e., the need for a city to plan its own future).
The tools for this comprehensive and integrated management system exist and can be applied today. More specifically, this new methodology is economically self-sustaining and will benefit cities, neighborhoods, small businesses, transportation, hospitals and colleges, and especially parkers.
I believe strongly that if planners and politicians take the time necessary to thoroughly understand the proposed Urban Preservation Parking System (UPPS), this concept will prove sufficiently compelling to begin to explore its implementation in cities around the world.
There are two inter-linked operational keys to this UPPS management methodology.
First, it includes all competitive parking areas and neighborhoods of a city, where each area would have a strategic parking management program and designs to meet its own particular parking problems and needs; in other words, a citywide comprehensive parking master plan.
Second, the key funding mechanism is a cyclical 20+/- year individual “reserved parking space lease-mortgage” for long-term parkers (i.e., working commuters of all types and urban residents who have no off-street parking).
The reserved parking space lease-mortgage is an entirely new financing tool that would be structured in the following manner:
Each designated long-term reserved parking space,, whether on-street, parking lot or garage, would be leased long-term, to an individual working commuter or urban resident who doesn’t have off-street parking, for a term of 20+/- years for an affordable amount based on each area’s and neighborhood’s strategic parking plan and financial capabilities. And it would be financed through an individual parking space lease-mortgage to the leasing parker, who in turn would pay a monthly fee to the mortgage lender.
The results of this financing methodology would be:
An on-street parker, for example, would receive a reserved curb parking space for 20 years for an average $20,000 mortgage and pay $2.78 a day or $0.12 an hour plus interest, and the rate would not increase for 20 years, which is significantly less than what current parking lots or garages charge or what metered parking costs. Business parking garage mortgages would be approximately two times street spaces. The parker could sublet or transfer the lease and mortgage to a new parker through a GPS search and placement software program.
The city’s public/private parking partnership would receive the $20,000 up front at the closing of each 20-year lease from each leased parking space.
In an average-sized city of 1 million population, it is projected that there would be 110,000 long-term leased parking spaces, which at 85% occupancy would generate $1.87 billion. The city’s non-tax revenue share after expenses and 50/50 partnership distribution would be $654 million. Plus, its share of ongoing operational profits would generate approximately $675 million to $750 million for the city during the first 20-year lease cycle.
The mortgage lender, which could be a local bank or group of banks, would have an entirely new lending product with very low risk that would cover all of the long-term reserved parking spaces in their city. Local businesses would benefit by having more accessible customer parking, resulting in more business and, therefore, more jobs.

The combination of the Urban Preservation Parking System (UPPS) with metered on-street parking would result in the first truly comprehensive, financially self-sustainable master parking plan and program in existence.

Richard A. Gardiner of Gardiner Associates, an Urban Planning & Design and Landscape Architectural consulting firm. can be contacted at
For a more detailed description of the UPPS and 70 linked benefits that would accrue to the involved stakeholders, both public and private, go online to and click on “UPPS article.” Editor

Article contributed by:
Richard A. Gardiner
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