AUSTIN (KXAN) — Another story that makes you think about the climate is this one stating that parking lots actually hurt cities and exacerbate an already huge climate crisis, according to a recent report.
Our automobiles are the lifeblood of transportation. Highway expansion and suburbs that continue to grow make cars, for many, their best means of transportation. And, they need a place to park. Thus, the need for parking lots.
They’re called parking minimums. They are requirements dictated by a city’s zoning ordinance for all new developments to provide a set number of off-street parking. It covers the demand for parking at peak times at a development.
California is the first state to deal head-on with the issue by banning the construction of parking lots, instead using that land to build affordable housing. Other cities, including Anchorage, Alaska, and Nashville, Tennessee, have either reduced or totally eliminated requirements that developers build new parking lots.
Eliminating these parking lots is one step in the battle to take better care of the climate. It is felt that these lands could be better used for housing rather than parking lots and, at the same time, give citizens better opportunities to walk, and use public transportation rather than simply driving. And, often these parking lots are created at the expense of trees. And, we know how valuable trees are.
In some cities across the country, the reduction in parking lots equates to an increasing transformation of vacant buildings into apartments, restaurants, and other types of stores. In some instances, the places where cars would park were frequently larger than the building.
As aforementioned, Nashville is one of those cities to reduce its carbon footprint by reducing the number of parking lots. Their hope was to reduce traffic and, more importantly, no longer clear trees and other flora. Nashville was not trying to eliminate cars per se but attempting to make better use of the land.
Will this work everywhere, in other major metropolitan areas? Apparently not, as the report indicated Miami, Florida, which tried to reduce its number of parking lots, instead reverted back to increasing them. The reason? Miami was not deemed to be a pedestrian and bicycle city.
This so-called anti-parking minimum is a win for climate activists who opined that “free parking is destroying the fabric of urban life” by eliminating the development of affordable housing and stirring up traffic jams.