Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World

By: Henry Grabar

Meeting Date: January 3, 2024 4:31 PM

“Paved Paradise” is about parking’s impact on city life and urban design, how it came to have such a large influence, and the prospects for change.  It asks: Why have we devoted so much land to the exclusive use of idle vehicles? Are there better ways of using this land?

The “big ideas” for Urban Atlanta:

  • Urban Atlanta has too much land devoted to parking. There are better uses for this “sea of parking,” uses that would improve cities and neighborhoods and benefit nearly everyone.
  • We need local governments to end parking mandates and let developers of office, retail and housing decide how to provide parking for tenants and visitors. Two possibilities: Have joint uses of parking that workers use during the day and residents use in evenings. And encourage tenants to use transit.
  • At the same time, we need local governments to actively manage their own parking, which includes curbside spaces and city-owned parking decks. The aim should be to price parking so that the most convenient spots cost more than less convenient ones and prices respond to demand. This would make drivers aware of the true cost of parking and may encourage some to try alternatives, such as transit, walking or cycling.
  • We should undo some of the damage done in the past. One way is for local governments to make it easier for homeowners to build accessory dwelling units (basically, small apartments) on their property. This would allow homeowners to turn underused spaces, such as garages, into rental property that can benefit them as it creates more affordable housing in Urban Atlanta.