The High Cost of Free Parking

Thursday, November 3, 2005 - 3:00pm

About the Event

Free parking isn't really free, says Donald Shoup. In fact, the average parking space costs more than the average car. In his speech, Shoup described how parking distorts transportation choices, warps urban form, and degrades the environment.

Initially, Shoup explained, developers pay for required parking, but soon tenants do, and then their customers, and so on, until the cost of parking has diffused throughout the economy.

Shoup proposed new ways for cities to regulate parking—namely, charge fair market prices for curb parking, use the resulting revenue to pay for services in the neighborhoods that generate it, and remove zoning requirements for off-street parking. Shoup argued that such measures will make parking easier and driving less necessary.


Donald Shoup — Professor, University of California Los Angeles

With a background in economics, engineering, and planning, Shoup has focused his research on public finance, transportation, and the land market. He has extensively studied the issue of parking as a key link between transportation and land use—a link with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment.

Shoup's research on employer-paid parking led to the passage of California's parking cash-out law and to changes in the Internal Revenue Code that encourage parking cash out.