Downtown parking: A declining business

By Logan Dredske

What effect do Uber and Lyft have on parking demand in urban areas? Just ask Ace Parking CEO John Baumgardner. Ace Parking—which provides a range of services from parking garage management to valet—has experienced a sizeable drop in demand for parking in the company’s San Diego location. Parking at hotels in San Diego has dropped by five to ten percent; restaurant valet demand has dropped 25 percent, and demand for valet parking at nightclubs has dropped a staggering 50 percent. While the timeline for these declines is unclear, an Ace Parking executive stated that similar or more severe trends have also been seen in the company’s parking operations, which number close to 750 locations around the United States.

While parking companies are left to worry, cities have reasons to be excited about decreased parking demand. For cities, parking lots and structures provide little in property tax revenue compared to other urban land uses. Future developments that require smaller amounts of parking onsite or nearby will translate into more revenue for local governments. This recent parking trend aids planners’ efforts to reduce minimum parking requirements, promote alternatives to driving, and lower the costs of residential developments.

This shift in travel patterns in urban areas also represents changes for developers. With Uber and Lyft growing in popularity and the future of autonomous vehicles brightening, the era of parking garages could be disappearing. Developers are beginning to concern themselves less with ensuring onsite parking for their users and becoming more concerned with providing pick-up/drop-up zones for Uber and Lyft users. A prime example of this is Major League Soccer’s new expansion in Miami. How much parking will be added to the site of the team’s new stadium? Zero. Team management plans to accommodate the transportation needs of fans by creating convenient Uber and Lyft pick-up/drop-off zones and a new light rail system that will be located nearby.

Logan Dredske is a Project Assistant at SSTI.