The Insanity of Parking and Its Cost

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The Insanity of Parking and Its Cost

We are sure most of you have heard or read the quote about “the definition of insanity”. It goes like this: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result”. Insanity seems to be a very appropriate word for parking these days, and the “insanity quote” seems to have become a very true statement when applied to parking and parking regulations.

The amount of land that parking takes in relation to the livable, usable or enjoyable real estate it serves is insane, the task of finding parking in a dense urban center is insane, the traffic created by drivers looking for parking is insane, drivers trying to find parking go insane, the cost that is passed to residents (especially in low-income development) under parking regulations is insane, parking overages are insane, parking shortages are insane and the cost of parking in all its forms (spatial, economical, environmental and social) is insane.

Lots of efforts are currently being conducted towards the resolution of all this insanity, autonomous vehicle technology, transit-oriented development and public transportation, the semi-automation of traditional parking garages or lots to pair with mobile (parking) apps; even cities questioning whether or not they should lift parking requirements are all good examples of it, but if the core of the issue is the parking facility, how come are we not concentrating in bringing the parking facility to par with the times? Well, that’s insane


Just as codes and requirements seem to be falling out of line with current and future parking, real estate development and smart city challenges and demands (costing developers time and money and users a lot of frustration), traditional parking methods seem to be also becoming outdated.

More and more we continue to hear about autonomous vehicles and AI, smart connected cities, ride-hailing services and so on … to give an example the U.K. is currently investing approximately $32 million in three trials with the promise of self-driving public transit by 2021.

We are not to say that these efforts are senseless or in vain. In fact, they need to be celebrated. Renewable energy, sensors and fast networks are helpful technological advances that should repeat and multiply all around the world. But how about parking technology? Why aren’t we integrating parking technology that has been available and widely used for decades in other latitudes of the world? Can we really say we want to break free from the parking insanity when we are trying to solve parking and vehicle storage quagmires applying the same solutions that created the problem in the first place?

Traditional parking methods and traditional parking regulations greatly affect the way we currently use our land, design our cities and serve our communities; not to mention the humongous amount of resources they consume. Developers are deprived of a significant chunk of land that they could otherwise use to build valuable income-producing square footage and provide residents and customers with more livable and enjoyable space for them (not their cars). Residents and customers are also forced to pay for parking costs even if they don’t drive.

To put it in perspective, a parking garage could cost an average of $8.56 million to complete, and this doesn’t include any demolition or land acquisition costs. Said parking garage can also take an average of 145,000 square feet of space to park roughly 400 cars.

Even if they wanted to reduce parking footprints and build and create more livable areas, developers and cities are left with little to no choice, or are they? Let’s consider for a minute that developers and cities could reduce the parking footprint to half or to a third and still park the same amount of vehicles. This would immediately translate into better land use, less land acquisition costs, optimized income-producing and livable space (including green space) and reduced construction and building times and costs. Wouldn’t this be amazing? Well, it is, and it is also possible with Automated Parking Technology.


Automated parking saves space simply because it does not require ramps, elevators, stairs and drive aisles; reducing the parking footprint to space strictly needed to park vehicles inches from each other. This means that the aforementioned parking garage could become a 75,000 square feet or a 50,000 square feet parking facility with the same 400 car capacity. What would you build with your extra space? Automated Parking Systems (APS) also require less construction, less excavation (if underground), less maintenance, less energy and less build time.

With Automated Parking, users also get the long end of the stick. Parkers don’t need to be driving around or up and down ramps looking for space, because all loading bays are in the front on the ground floor. In an Automated Parking scenario, users simply arrive at the loading areas, park and leave, taking their keys with them. With the simple touch of a button, the parking system autonomously lifts the vehicle and parks it in the next available stall on the storage areas; which makes the vehicle unreachable to thieves or vandals and less susceptible to accidental damages, scratches or dents caused by other drivers.

In case you are wondering, the industry average for parking/retrieval of vehicles on an APS is one minute per vehicle. This saves time and stress and enhances the experience of the user, making the development more valuable for future tenants and visitors.

We talk about automating the vehicle and the way we find, reserve and pay for parking, but we are not talking about automating the parking facility? Well, that’s insane. We need to demystify automated parking and learn the real facts and benefits offered by this solution, so we can fully understand it and embrace it.

The road to a society dominated by ride-hailing services, autonomous vehicles, and no privately owned cars is long and uncertain, and although some cities in the United States are considering lifting parking requirements the process of changing regulation may take years (maybe decades) to progress and become a federal rule. In the meantime they are solutions we can adopt HERE and NOW to dramatically reduce the negative impact of current parking practices, and why aren’t we doing it already seems insane.

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