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Turning Housing Into Driving: Parking Requirements and Density in Los Angeles and New York


  • Michael Manville
  • Alex Beata
  • Donald Shoup


This article examines the idea that residential minimum parking requirements are associated with lower housing and population densities and higher vehicle densities (residential vehicles per square mile). Cities frequently use minimum parking requirements to manage traffic, but parking requirements accommodate vehicles, suggesting they should lead to more driving and congestion rather than less. If parking requirements reduce congestion, they likely do so not by reducing the number of vehicles in an area but by reducing the densities of housing and people. We support this idea by comparing the Los Angeles and New York urbanized areas. We show that differences in housing, vehicle, and population densities across and within these urbanized areas are closely correlated with differences in the share of housing units that include parking, and that the share of housing units that include parking is in turn correlated with the stringency of parking requirements. Compared with Los Angeles, New York shifts less of the cost of driving into its housing market. We further show that within New York City, a 10% increase in minimum parking requirements is associated with a 5% increase in vehicles per square mile, a 4% increase in vehicles per person, and a 6% reduction in both population density and housing density. These relationships remain even after controlling for street layout and proximity to the subway.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Manville & Alex Beata & Donald Shoup, 2013. "Turning Housing Into Driving: Parking Requirements and Density in Los Angeles and New York," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 350-375, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:houspd:v:23:y:2013:i:2:p:350-375
    DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2013.767851

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, "undated". "The Impact of Zoning on Housing Affordability," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 395, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. repec:ucp:bkecon:9781884829987 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Christiansen, Petter & Engebretsen, Øystein & Fearnley, Nils & Usterud Hanssen, Jan, 2017. "Parking facilities and the built environment: Impacts on travel behaviour," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 198-206.
    2. Taylor, Brian & Osman, Taner & Thomas, Trevor & Mondschein, Andrew, 2016. "Not So Fast: A Study of Traffic Delays, Access, and Economic Activity in the San Francisco Bay Area," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt9qf2481r, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.

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