Where has all the Parking gone?

Have you ever struggled to find parking in Los Angeles?  Well, the city struggles to find entire parking lots!  This article laments the lost revenue of “missing” parking lots.  Lots not registered with the city and hence do not pay taxes.


New Urbanism advocates incoporating a entirely different property tax system.  Currently, property is taxed based on its value and its “value” is based on the value of what is built on the property.  An elaborate cathedral, elegant movie theater, or prestigious concert venue costs more, millions so than a parking lot that needs to buy… what? a couple traffic cones? a shack for a guard?

However, as far as the city is concerned the property has the same value regardless of what is built on it.  First & Main with its proximity to downtown utilities, services, schools, public transportation, etc. is naturally more valuable than a tract of land in north hills.

But the city doesn’t see it that way. As said before they tax less for property that has nothing built on it.  So what motivation does a developer have to build on a property?  It is better to leave it undeveloped than to build.  However, I posit, if the taxes were the same, all these undeveloped lots would be built.  Because the taxes are the same whether you  build a lot and are collecting $5/hour to park a car or build a mixed use building where you could collect rent from businesses and residents.


One thought on “Where has all the Parking gone?

  1. Don’t forget about that parking lot staple, the chain link fence. Really does so much to enhance the urban environment.

    While we’re on the subject of parking, we might as well point out that if the street parking situation in LA was better, there wouldn’t be so much demand from consumers for parking lots in the first place. Street parking provides an important buffer zone between moving traffic and people on the sidewalk, and provides a barrier against traffic noise. Contrast that with parking lots which are vast no-man’s lands that break up the urban environment and often have entrances and exits that are hazardous to pedestrians and moving traffic in the street. We could go a long way towards curbing the tyranny of parking lots if we ended anti-gridlock zones and permit parking in LA. If a few parking lots closed, the city wouldn’t miss them, especially since it sounds like they aren’t contributing any revenue anyways. 😉

    It would be interesting to see how much potential revenue the city looses out on by not allowing parking during rush hour on streets where there are parking meters. Depending on the street there can be as many as 5-6 hours a day (during regular business hours, I might add) that parking at a meter is illegal.

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