Although it might feel like there’s never anywhere to park, most U.S. cities have way more spots than they’ll ever need. But getting a precise count of all the curbside, garage, and surface lot parking in a city is a daunting task, to say the least, which often requires the use of satellite imagery. Tracking that space over a century seems almost unimaginable.
And yet a research group has done just that for Los Angeles County. Using detailed local information on zoning codes and developer parking minimums, as well as population data within county census tracts, the researchers took a full accounting of L.A.’s on- and off-street parking infrastructure from 1900 to 2010. This “spatially explicit inventory,” as they call it in the Journal of the American Planning Association, ties the metro area’s historic spread of abundant parking to the infamous car-reliance and highway growth of today.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key findings (reported in JAPA by Mikhail Chester, Andrew Fraser, and Carolyn Flower of Arizona State; Juan Matute of UCLA; and Ram Pendyala of Georgia Tech) and what it all means.