Most buildings run their parking badly. Let's fix that!


My guest this month is an active Parking Reform Network member with unique insights at the interface between the parking owned by buildings and the world of parking reform. 

Most buildings fail abysmally to manage their parking efficiently. It hurts building owners. It hurts tenants. It hurts residents. It hurts the whole community.

Yet most building managers have little clue that there are now tools to help them easily do much better.

Evan Goldin is co-founder and CEO of Parkade, a company which provides an amazing app and system that makes it simple for buildings to better utilize and manage their parking. Parkade says it is "on a mission to create a more livable, more affordable more mobile world - with far fewer parking spots".

Evan himself is a really helpful presence in the Parking Reform Network Slack so I was thrilled when he agreed to share his insights with Reinventing Parking listeners and readers. 

Listen with the player below. Or scroll down for a lightly edited transcript. Or subscribe to the audio podcast. This is the official podcast of the Parking Reform Network.


Parkade offers parking management software for apartments, condos and offices. The Parkade app and parking management system automates tenant parking, unlocks short-term and visitor parking, streamlines enforcement and more. 

And by the way, Parkade is also one of the first businesses to contribute to the Parking Reform Network as a sponsor.

Here is short outline of my conversation with Evan Goldin, CEO and Co-Founder of Parkade (scroll down for a lightly edited transcript)

  • Evan began by setting up paid workplace parking at Lyft
  • Poor parking management is a little-discussed threat to romantic relationships (including Evan's)
  • These experiences prompted Evan to co-found Parkade in 2018 to make it much easier for buildings to manage their parking
  • How most buildings 'manage' their on-site parking [Spoiler: badly. And this makes building managers and developers (and cities) think they need more parking than they actually do]
  • Once the required on-site parking is built, it gets neglected, by building managers and cities alike
  • Most on-site parking with buildings is run by people for whom parking is a very low priority
  • The parking management industry (and related industries) should LOVE parking reform
  • Overcoming the "I don't want to go first" barrier to paid/unbundled parking
  • Parkade and companies like it can make parking scarcity much less scary. Better management often reveal that there was no scarcity. And, even if there is scarcity, it can be handled!
  • Yes, we can better manage access to EV Charging in building parking lots. It's like the wider parking story in microcosm
  • Evan says, let's do more to encourage (or even mandate) unbundled parking
  • Paid parking in building parking lots opens huge win-win opportunities for sharing the revenue
  • Do developers realize that easier on-site parking management means they don't need to build so much parking anymore?
  • An idea: Mandate reporting of parking utilization? (or maybe states can require cities that mandate parking to also measure and analyse the usage of that parking)

Evan began by setting up paid workplace parking at Lyft [2:05]

Paul Barter: Your trajectory to get to this point as CEO of a parking management assistance company, how did you get to this point? What's the backstory there? 

Evan Goldin: Like a lot of parking reformers, I would say my journey began by reading Professor Shoup's book, The High Cost Free Parking. I picked up a copy in 2012 2013 some time and read it cover to cover and was absolutely just enthralled by the topic. It really helped me see parking in a different light. And it helped me understand how core parking is to the way we get around the way we design our cities. 

At the time it led to a lot of interest in the topic at Lyft. I was one of the first team members of the ride sharing app Lyft and we would often joke that our biggest competitor was not Uber, it was free parking. Most people, instead of taking a Lyft, are choosing to drive themselves and park for free in the United States not choosing to take an Uber. So there was a lot of discussion about parking. There were a bunch of transportation and policy nerds. 

The topic really kept percolating with me. It percolated so much that in 2014, I had the crazy idea to volunteer to run the Lyft corporate parking lot

We had just moved into this huge new office in San Francisco's Mission District. We had about 60,000 square feet of office space. And suddenly we had something we never had before. We had parking. We previously didn't have any. And we had 250 employees, many of whom had cars. And we did the thing that most American companies do, which is absolutely nothing with our parking, we just said first come first serve. It's free. You know, park wherever you want. And we very quickly discovered the downsides of doing that. And we had people fighting over parking spots. We had people driving to work that didn't need to drive who lived half a mile away. We had people driving from farther away that had better alternatives but didn't want to deal with street sweeping at home. So they would come park for free at work. 

And I volunteered to try to tame the madness and looked around and tried to see what kind of parking software was available for someone running a private parking lot. And really found that there wasn't much and the stuff that was there was was pretty bad and unusable.

Paul: That's quite a shock, isn't it? You would think there must be 1000s of companies in that position across the US alone, let alone the world.

Evan: But you know, some people just don't find it that interesting and I really did. 

So we we didn't have any software at the time. We cobbled together spreadsheets and Facebook groups and Venmo. 

And I somehow convinced my CEO to let me start charging for parking at our own office, and we charged monthly, we overshot the price, made it a little too high. And we had a few vacant spots in the beginning, but we quickly adjusted the price. 

If you ever want to feel like you're on the hot seat, I suggest you announce to your coworkers at an all hands on stage that they're about to start paying for their own parking spots.

Paul: Was anything thrown at you?

Evan: Oh, yeah. I had some popcorn thrown at me. We had protesters picket the meeting ... all kinds of stuff. 

But, you know, Professor Shoup wouldn't be surprised by this, but it started to work. 

We rolled out paid parking and it worked really well. Suddenly, parking was reliable. And the people who had been driving to work, but had alternatives, stopped driving to work and they started carpooling or they started partaking in the subsidy. We charged for parking and we gave that money to the people that didn't drive to work. We essentially created our own transportation demand management system. And it really shifted behavior. We had a huge drop off in the percent of people that drove alone. 

So that happened, and I was kind of stewing on that. We had made parking reliable, long term. 

But on a daily basis, there were a lot of people that were out of the office and spots were still sitting empty. So we kind of forced people to use a Facebook group and offer their spot when they weren't in the office. And we were able to make parking more flexible and offer parking on a daily basis with that.

Poor parking management is a little-discussed threat to romantic relationships (including Evan's) [6:41]

Evan: Then the other thing that happened around that time is I was living in San Francisco in a high rise. And my now-wife was commuting in from graduate school once or twice a week to come see me. And I lived in Nob Hills, very parking starved neighborhood of San Francisco. But a neighborhood where parking meters are actually fairly rare. I did not have meters on my street, though we had them down the street. 

And she came to visit and on one particular occasion that is seared in my memory, drove around my block for about 25 minutes on a Friday night, after a really tough week of exams and studying and called me exasperated in tears. And she said the words, "I've been searching for parking for 30 minutes. I haven't found anything. I'm never coming to visit you again." That was a terrible experience. And, you know, I feared for my romantic life. It was pretty scarring

Paul: Parking management people out there who are listening, this is important to stuff! You are threatening people's romantic futures if you don't manage your parking properly.

Evan: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

Paul: She would have paid! She would have happily paid to get to Evan.

Evan: Yep, that was a key lesson. 

And so I ran downstairs, I ran through the parking garage to go meet her and grab her car and try to park for her. And I ran through the parking garage and noticed that there were at least 50 empty parking spots. And I was living in this big, you know, multifamily building. And I realized I had no way to get short term parking. There were tons of empty spots, some owned by the building, some leased by the residents. But there was no way to share.

These experiences prompted Evan to co-found Parkade in 2018 to make it much easier for buildings to manage their parking [8:40]

Evan: So that really stuck with me. And it stuck with me so much that a couple of years later, I left my job and started Parkade to try to solve this problem full time. 

And now we work with hundreds of apartment and office communities around the world, mostly in the United States and are really helping to ensure that none of the buildings are making the mistakes that those offices and apartments I saw in person did in the early 2010s.

Paul: What year was that that Parkade got started? 

Evan: We started in 2018.  

Paul:  Okay, so it's a pretty new company, but already doing reasonably well. And growing. 

Evan:  Yeah, we've been growing like crazy. And it's just amazing that when people hear the idea, they're just absolutely delighted because no one on the property management side loves dealing with parking. It's everyone's least favorite part of their job. And the idea that they can modernize it, reduce their workload, increase their own building's revenue, and make for happier residents. It's a huge win for everybody.

Paul: So you handle residential buildings. Do you also handle office buildings and any other kinds of buildings?

Evan: Really our focus is any building that has private off street parking. 

There are of course many buildings United States that fall into that category but don't have any interest in managing their parking. Maybe they're an exurban garden-style community that's just super over parked. 

But there are lots of other buildings like the one I lived in that are starved for guest parking where parking is very limited nearby. So it could be, you know, an office, a school. We work with a retirement home. All kinds of different places. But apartments and condos are really our primary customers.

How most buildings 'manage' their on-site parking [Spoiler: badly, and this makes building managers and developers (and cities) think they need more parking than they actually do] [10:11]

Paul: You've hinted at how dysfunctional the management of off street parking typically was, and is, in many buildings. You've said most of them don't manage it at all. Which for many of them, is maybe not a problem. 

But how is it done currently in buildings that really need Parkade or a company like Parkade, but they're not using such a service currently? How are they currently doing it? And why is that all going wrong?

Evan: Most buildings that manage their parking, are using, at best a spreadsheet to do it. So say 'Main Street Apartments', a theoretical example building, is managed by some property manager. They probably have a parking spreadsheet that they inherited from their previous property manager. It's really old. It's probably out of date. 

And because they're managing parking with a spreadsheet, they have no ability to offer short term parking. It's only long term parking that's offered at the property, which means guests need to park on the street only. They're probably dealing with a lot of enforcement issues that they've tried to solve with very, call them kludgy methods. We see stickers and decals, and hang tags and all kinds of crazy methods that rely on paper.

We see in a lot of buildings, the the only parking enforcement tool they have in their tool belt is to tow a car. So a lot of residents ... you get a rental car for a weekend because you want an upgrade or your car's in the shop, but you forget your decal in your primary car. You come home and because your building uses decals your car gets towed. Those are the kinds of experiences that a lot of multifamily residents are going to be pretty used to. 

And it's one of the reasons that the solution for the last few decades to make parking better, has just been to over build it. When I talked to developers, they want to ensure that they have enough parking for their residents and their guests. And so much of the reason for that is just poor subpar management.

Paul: So bottom line, a lot of the episodes of this podcast and a lot of the messaging from Parking Reform Network is aimed at say cities with a similar tendency on the other side of the regulatory fence, telling buildings, 'you must provide excessive barking huge amounts of parking, because we find it inconvenient, difficult, politically awkward to manage our parking the on street parking primarily as well as our other public parking'. 

But then, on the other side of the fence, even if cities stopped requiring parking, which more and more are, which is a good thing. Too many buildings and building developers who are talking to the building managers and hear their problems, will hear, 'we still want lots of parking, because we're afraid to manage our parking because managing parking is a terrible hassle ... a great headache'. 

And so the bottom line message here is: no, managing your parking can be easy. It can be actually a revenue source. We can help. You don't spend enormous amounts of money, waste enormous amounts of space, build fewer office floors and fewer residential floors than you could have done because you're afraid to manage your parking. It's a crazy, crazy solution. The solution is to manage your parking and engage a company like Parkade.

Evan: Exactly.

Once the required on-site parking is built, it gets neglected, by building managers and cities alike [13:50]

Evan: It's been crazy to see how much (and the Parking Reform Network community knows this story well) people lose their minds when parking is being discussed and proposed, right?

And then once it's built, no one cares. No one monitors. The city doesn't monitor. No one even really knows how that parking is being managed once it's actually constructed. And that's where things fall apart. Because once it's constructed, typically, it's not managed well. 

And that's why time and time again, when a developer goes to build their next building. They look at their prior construction, they see that they built 1.8 spots per unit. And they might even feel like that's not enough and they might build more. So the message is definitely that the first thing we should try is to ensure that parking is well managed.

I've seen cities, as an example of this, really overestimate how well parking is managed and how much parking demand there is. My own hometown of Palo Alto commissioned a study years ago where they went around to various multifamily buildings in Palo Alto to serve a peak parking demand. The consultant found that the peak parking demand if I recall was around 60%. In a lot of these communities, it was a mix of affordable senior housing, market rate and even in the dense communities, even the market rate communities, parking demand had been way overestimated, and they were seeing 40% vacancy. So 60% utilization. 

And this came back to Council, as they were debating parking minimums. And Council literally didn't believe the parking consultant. The parking consultant had to sit there saying no, I personally visited these buildings at 11pm on a Tuesday. I saw a 40% vacancy. And the politician said, No, you must be wrong. You must be incorrect, you must have miscounted. Because the residents nearby always complain about parking. Surely this building has way more parking demand than that. And they didn't. The problem is that when the rubber meets the road, so to speak, in the parking lot, it's not managed well, and residents and guests parking needs are often not met. And that's what really needs to change. And that's what we're trying to change.

Paul: And of course there IS a problem in the street. It's just that people are trying to park in the street just don't have access, or don't have easy access to the off street parking. So it's even worse. The usual situation is the street is priced. And that encourages people to try to park for free in the street.

Evan: Exactly. We see that all the time.  

Paul: But then the other the other aspect is what you're familiar with. There's buildings with all sorts of access restrictions, and especially office buildings and residential buildings. So that's an enormous failure. And as you said, people just don't really monitor what's going on. And so they don't understand. Even the people who deal with this every week at their council meetings who should perhaps understand don't understand.

People wonder how can people in our movement get so obsessed about parking and find it so fascinating. On a weekly basis it hits me again. How can it be that there's this arena of public policy that is so mind-bogglingly mismanaged, and just so badly done? It's just such low hanging fruit to do better, and yet, it's such a struggle to convince people to do better. It's frustrating, but it's also fascinating.

Evan: Well, I think, Professor Shoup was the one I want to credit who said something along along the lines of, 'when it comes to urban urban issues, parking is the lowest hanging fruit'. There's so much that is relatively easy relative to other policy changes, or just other changes to be made. That parking really is so much easier to improve upon than so many other problems.

Most on-site parking with buildings is run by people for whom parking is a very low priority [17:30]

Paul: So let's think about the needs of a parking manager for a building. That sounds like a glorious term, but it could just be the building manager trying to handle parking on a part time basis thinking he'll be able to do it in half an hour per week, and then getting frustrated when it eats up half of his time, or her time.

Evan: One of the problems with off street parking as a whole is that it is run by a slew of people for whom parking is a very low priority, right. If you're an apartment manager, you're managing a building of 300 units or you're managing an office building. It's not your first priority, your first priority is making sure your apartments are leased. If you're managing an apartment building, if you're in an office building, it's making sure your offices are leased. The parking exists very much for these folks as a loss leader, right, as a way that the apartments get rented, as a way that the office gets rented. 

And you see that because many of these buildings don't even have any parking, right? A building can often get by sometimes just fine without any on site parking, because maybe there's a public parking garage across the street. 

So parking is managed by these apartment managers, the office building managers for whom you know, they are not trained parking professionals. They are trained and very good usually at other things. You know, excellent at budgeting and excellent at maintenance and many other things. But parking is really an afterthought for them. 

And that's why I think we've really found so much success because they're able to offload a lot of that thinking, a lot of that handling of parking to us, and we make it you know, self serve and really are able to offload all the work from the property team. So it works much better for them.

But we can't be too surprised that parking is not nearly as efficient as it could be when the the local property manager gets a ton of discretion. 

To my frustration, my own office building where Parkade headquarters is in San Francisco. I've seen this same thing. We have a huge parking lot, more than 60 parking spots in the Mission District and they are fully leased. Every single spot is taken. My team is constantly parking on the street and parking of course is free in our neighborhood on the street. My team will circle for 10, 20 minutes sometimes trying find parking. 

And I've gone to the building [management] and I've said, Hey, we should really have a system for this, you should really use Parkade. And the property manager has looked back at me and said, I don't see the problem, every spot is leased. And I said, I know, but my team can't park every day. But I come to the office and two thirds of the spots are empty, because people don't come into the office anymore. And you know, they just don't see the problem. So, you know, we really want to help those people and help them see the light, right? 

Paul: Yes. So parking is always someone else's problem.

The parking management industry (and related industries) should LOVE parking reform [20:28]

Paul: So on this parking podcast we usually focus on parking reform all around the world. And Parkade is an interesting company, in that you have taken an interest in the world of parking reform. That's in addition to having this business where you're helping private-sector owners of parking manage their parking better and easier and more profitably. But you very clearly see the link with parking reform. 

So could you reflect on that a little bit? What led you there? And also, do you have anything to say to the rest of the private sector parking industry, you know, companies that are doing similar things to yourself, or companies that are offering equipment and management services for buildings, or access control, all of that stuff? Should they be taking more interest in the parking reform movement? Dare I say, even sponsoring the parking reform network?

Evan: Yes, yes, as the first sponsor, I would definitely agree. I think that the parking world should love parking reform. The way parking works at a societal level is honestly pretty terrible. Today, parking is extreme. I mean, ask most people about parking and their brain usually wants to explode. Parking should be easy. It doesn't have to be hard. For that to be the case, we need to manage parking better. We need to price it better.

But I really think the industry itself should be interested in a world where there's a lot fewer parking spaces, but it's easier to park, that's really the world we're trying to create, right? 

Instead of having an apartment building ... I'm looking at a schematic right in front of me on my desk ... Instead of having an apartment building with 2040 parking spots and 1200 units, we should have a building that's got 1200 units and 1300 parking spots, or even better 1800 units and 1300 parking spots. And that's only possible if we as an industry, come together and really ensure that things are getting better, better managed. And perhaps if policymakers continue to push on the levers that they can push on.

Overcoming the "I don't want to go first" barrier to paid/unbundled parking [22:30]

Evan: And to also answer the question, I would say one other thing, which is that I think Parkade specifically, is very aligned with parking reform, in large part because what we're doing is applying Shoupian principles to off street parking, right. Donald Shoup always speaks to the need to right price parking. That's exactly what we're doing for off street. 

So you know, when you have a property manager who's got 80 different tasks, charging the right price for parking, and even potentially charging, any price for parking is pretty low on their priority list. 

We run into building after building where they say, I don't want to charge. Every other building around here doesn't charge. I don't want to be the first. It doesn't make sense. 

We make it very easy for buildings to charge for parking, because they don't have to do any work in doing so. And if they want to ration it, they want to offer one spot per unit. And then the second spot is, you know, $100 and the third spot is $200. We offer tools to make that stuff very easy. So we're helping buildings unbundle and right price parking. We're also improving parking.

Paul: Yeah, just let me jump in there. Because that's actually very interesting. Thirty years ago or forty years ago, when Shoup was getting going, it was either it was zero or 100%. It was hard to phase in pricing. 

And similarly off street, right? It's such a hassle to set up the pricing system. Whereas you're making it easy to take that little step in a little way. And so it's not so much hassle, which I guess makes it easier to take that first step. Would you say that's one of the keys?

Evan: Yeah, we're definitely helping people dip their toe in the water of right pricing. I'm talking to a building and a large apartment complex in Colorado that comes to mind. They know they're running out of parking. They're getting constant complaints about parking. Guests can't park. They don't ever offer any guest parking. But they don't really manage their parking. It's just first come, first serve on assigned parking, they don't charge a thing. 

And we are working with them to start charging just $15 a month and set a limit on how many parking spots people can have at that price. And then after that, you know you get more spots and they know that people some people there have four or five cars and they haven't moved in months. They're using it for cars, long term car storage, because it's so under priced. So we're helping them dip their toe in the water. 

And then at the same time we're offering very sophisticated tools where if you want to give residents 30 hours per month of guest parking, great. The next 30 hours is X price. The next 100 hours is Y price. We can offer a mix of hybrid public and private parking. So if they want to offer some parking areas to the public, and some maintain just for residents, that's fine, even with gates. So a lot of really interesting and sophisticated scenarios if you're ready to do more than just dip your toe in, but we're definitely helping them right price their parking.

Parkade and companies like it can make parking scarcity much less scary. Better management often reveal that there was no scarcity. And, even if there is scarcity, it can be handled! [25:35]

Paul: Yeah, people are so afraid of parking scarcity. But why are they afraid? Because then there will be the hassle of managing parking. If the managing the parking is easy, we don't need to be so afraid of scarcity. 

But on the other other side of the coin, getting back to that question of the parking industry, and why parking industry should be interested in parking reform. Instead of thinking of parking reform as some kind of anti-parking kind of enemy, which some people in the parking industry seem to think about it like that, which strikes me as weird, because if you look at any city, the most intense parking management industry activity is all the areas where there's some scarcity of parking, or a lot of scarcity. But even a little bit of scarcity creates frustration with parking, which then creates the need for entrepreneurs such as yourself to step in and help. And the good news is, you can help. It's not that hard. It's not such a disaster.

Evan: And I guess part of my point is scarcity very much depends on how you manage your parking. 

I think about this building, we launched in Koreatown, a very parking starved neighborhood in Los Angeles. And when we launched there, and took over parking management, they had a waiting list of I believe about 18 parking spots for long-term parking. So residents were literally moving into the building and being told, I don't know when you're going to get a parking spot. Weeks, months, I don't know. 

And we went in. We audited all the parking, we make sure that it was priced correctly. We found people that had moved out that were still assigned parking. We found people that were supposed to be paying for parking that had not been paying and who, once they were told they actually needed to pay, dropped their parking lease. We found all kinds of things. And we also were able to offer parking short term. So the people that were renting parking spots just so their girlfriend could come over once a week, we were able to combine four, five, six, seven of those people, help them drop their parking leases, and just rent parking short term when they need it. And we allow for very easy subleasing. 

So through all those methods, we were able to take them from an 18 spot shortfall to I think about an eight spot surplus. And so in that scenario, scarcity was ... I don't want to say it was imagined. But it was self inflicted. And that is a solvable problem. 

And it's such a shame, because the residents of that building, before Parkade if there was another apartment complex being proposed down the street, they're probably the ones going into City Hall picketing and saying, no, no, no, I don't want my street parking to get any tougher. But that was again, just a result of management that could have been far better.

EV Charging in building parking lots is like the wider parking story in microcosm [28:16]

Paul: A lot of building managers are worried about this issue of electric vehicle charging and how to manage sharing those those charging spots. And, the investment is a pretty big upfront investment. So they don't want to over build EV parking spots and charging stations as well. 

Does Parkade help with that?

Evan: We do. We open up a few options. 

One is we allow any chargers that are in assigned parking spots to be subleased. So rather than just only being used by the party that's renting or being assigned that spot, it can be shared among many people. 

We also allow for EV chargers to be communal and reserved in advance, which is really helpful because you know, any EV driver will tell you they have real range anxiety. And it's very important for them to know that they can get home and charge. And when you just do first come, first served for your EV charging banks there's no predictability and you end up creating a Tesla parking lot, where because it's unmonitored that Tesla is going to sit there for days on end not moving. You really are gonna see subpar charger utilization. 

It's been great. I actually have an EV myself and I do not have a charger in my assigned parking spot at home. When I need to charge I open Parkade and I reserve a neighbor's spot in the building. They have a great system called EverCharge so I already have my fob. The electricity is billed directly to me. I just pay a couple bucks to borrow a spot that'll be able to charge my car. So my building is able to get by with a lot fewer chargers.

I think what's super interesting about EV charging is it's a microcosm of parking. We are repeating a lot of the same mistakes that we have made with parking for 50 years of over, you know, over building parking, poor utilization, poor management. And we can't be surprised that we're going to see the same results with EV charging. That we're going to need way too many chargers. 

We're going to have cities insisting you need EV charger minimums. I've already seen the spread of that. There was a developer today who said the city insists on 40% of the spots having EV chargers. That is a massive expense if every building has to do that. And the solution, much like parking reform is pushing with parking, should just be better charger utilization. We shouldn't have to put a charger in every spot, it's going to take trillions of dollars.

Paul: Fascinating.

Evan says, let's do more to encourage (or even mandate) unbundled parking [30:45]

Paul: We've already talked about a key thing the cities can should must do is abolish the parking mandates. That will not be a problem. It would help in many, many ways. And the scarcity that may eventually emerge in some areas, is easily managed, as you persuaded us. The on street part is their (cities) problem, they can manage that. The off-street part,  your problem, you can manage that. 

But what other city policies would you say are really important for making things better in general, and your business interacts in some way with these policy changes, which would be a good thing for everybody, for example, unbundling? Is that Is that a big issue for you?

Evan: Yeah, unbundling is huge. I think that when you think about policy changes that can and should be made, unbundling I would say is near the top of the list for me. 

And I happen to live in California, which just passed a new unbundling law statewide. AB1317 goes into effect in 2025. And it requires market rate pricing of parking, unbundled parking, in all new construction in about half of the new multifamily that will get built in the state. So super, super impactful. 

And it's impactful because, and I said this before, nobody wants to go first when it comes to unbundling. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with developers who say, I want to charge for parking. I know that there's overconsumption of parking. I know I don't need this much parking. But I'm scared to do it. Because all of my comps, all of my similar buildings nearby, do not charge for parking and until they charge for parking, I can't charge for parking, because that's gonna scare people off from a lease and I can't lose an entire lease over a $50 or $100 parking charge. So regulation to just ensure that everyone is at least charging something is certainly a great place to start. 

Honestly, charging anything is a big step up from charging nothing. Even 5, 10, $15 a month we've seen be enough to deter someone who does not at all need a parking spot from getting or keeping that parking spot. 

Or it's enough to give them a discount. I spoke with a developer I met with today in Southern California, who I think I convinced to start charging for parking, said they're going to discount their rents the same level that they add parking charges, so their rents were $3,400 a month. Today, I think it was for a two bedroom, and they were going to start charging $200 for parking. And that was going to allow them to lower they're asking rent by $200. So they get to advertise lower prices so that people that don't own cars, get to actually feel the discounted price of not using their parking. And the building gets to see much lower parking demand as a result. So everybody wins at the end of the day.

Paid parking in building parking lots opens huge win-win opportunities for sharing the revenue [33:35]

Paul: Just getting back to the core of Donald Shoup thought: abolish the parking mandates, ration the parking, share the revenue. Do you have any of that sharing the revenue on the off street side with residents or office building managers or employees who are initially reluctant to engage in rationing with pricing? Is there sometimes some sort of sharing of the benefits to sweeten the deal?

Evan: Yes, definitely. And I've seen it in all different types of buildings. So, you know, at Lyft, we collected I think it was around $15,000 a month in parking fees. And as I mentioned, we took that money, and then just gave it to the people that didn't drive to work. So we were not only imposing a stick, but giving people a carrot. And when we when we saw how instrumental that was to parking behavior change, it was massive, Not only facing the fear of paying $175 a month to park, but missing out on $70 or $75 a month in subsidies or bonuses, if you didn't drive was huge. So we've seen it in offices. 

And on the residential side, we have a slew of buildings that take the money that they collect and deliver it right back to residents. A classic example is a condo building. We help condo buildings, monetize their parking if they want to. And for those, they already have an mechanism to do that. It goes directly to their HOA fees. So we've seen multiple buildings, lower their HOA assessments or fees just because they're managing their parking better. And that's been extremely impactful. So it's been very helpful. 

We also allow for easy subleasing. So we make it easy for these folks with long term parking to actually just make money from their spot, and it goes right back into their pocket. So it's even directly at the individual parker level. There's a reward from putting your spot to better use, and that's money that people can then spend on whatever they see fit. 

So we've definitely created a bit of the third arm of Shoupian policies - of off street parking benefit districts.

Do developers realize that easier on-site parking management means they don't need to build so much parking anymore? [35:45]

Paul: When you're hustling for business, I guess you're targeting buildings with parking problems. I wonder, do you do also reach out to the to the developers? If we could persuade developers that look, once you've finished your building, it will still be leasable, you'll still be able to sell it on because companies like Parkade exist. You don't need as much parking as you thought you did. 

Do you think that that message is perhaps seeping through into the development industry that they don't need as much parking as they thought they did?

Evan: Yeah, it's happening. It's happening slowly. Developers are building a lot less parking in the last few years than they used to. That is an experiment that is slow to draw conclusions, right? The we're talking about long development cycles, things that take many years to get approved and then built and then tested. And so the speed at which developers can learn is unfortunately fairly slow. 

And I think that's where we as parking advocates can help. We can encourage the city to set policy like parking maximums, we can encourage cities to unbundle parking, which is probably the greatest single tool to reduce parking demand. 

But at the end of the day, it will be on developers to know that they can get by with less. And we're trying to help them show that. Stories like that building in Koreatown that had a huge shortfall in parking and then a surplus. Just with better parking management it was a 27% parking utilization increase. Hopefully ... I know stories like that are helping the developers we work with shave their parking ratios, even 10%. And that's a huge, huge impact to the climate in our cities. But it is, as you know, a slow moving pace of change. 

I do think that elimination of parking minimums is is making a huge difference. We have a customer, actually in my hometown of Palo Alto that proposed a building with I think about 50 units and 30 parking spots. It was workforce housing, near transit. And the city required that they build twice as much parking as they wanted, they only wanted 30 parking spots. My hometown of Palo Alto, supposed Climate Champion, made them build 60. And now, years later, the building is done, it's opened. And they have I believe 31 parking spots that have been leased. So they're sitting about half empty. And they had to, at a cost of I think $2 million, install parking stackers. So this parking cannot really be shared with the public. It is very difficult for guests to use. And the only reason they had to spend money on parking stackers and delay construction a month was because the city made them do that. 

So you know, parking minimum reform is an extremely effective first step. But there's much more we need to do. And hopefully, you know, developers will will see the light fairly quickly.

An idea: Mandate reporting of parking utilization? (or maybe states can require cities that mandate parking to also measure and analyse the usage of that parking) [38:40]

Paul: Earlier on, you mentioned, cities are flying blind, because they have no idea about the utilization rates of off street parking. And so Palo Alto will never learn its lesson. Unless you tell them. 

Maybe the parking reform movement should add one more item to our agenda, which is mandating reporting of parking utilization rates to accelerate this understanding of the enormous glut that we've got in so many cities.

Evan: Paul that's the best idea I have heard in a very long time. I love it. And it's exactly right. 

Paul, I guarantee you that if you went to the city council that forced this developer to build twice as much parking, and you ask them how much parking was being used, they would have no idea. And so I absolutely love that idea. 

Or tell a city. If you're going to require parking still, you then need to do parking analysis. And you need to stay on top of this data. Because that's exactly right. That is how developers learn quickly, if this data is available and collected, and they can be shown that you don't actually need that much parking. 

So I think that's a absolutely fantastic idea. And hopefully those listening can take an interest.  

Paul: Maybe that's a great place to end. We've taken a lot of your time. And you've got a very important meeting coming up with the president of the Parking Reform Network, just by coincidence.  

Evan: That's right. I have drinks with Tony. It's all parking all the time around here!  

Paul: And it's Thanksgiving week in the US [at the time of recording] and the Parking Reform Network has a lot to give thanks for. We've had a great year. Say hello to Tony for all of us. 

Evan: I will and we will, we will toast to parking reform.

Paul: Thanks very much for being on the podcast, Evan.

Evan: Fabulous. Thank you.

Visit the Parkade website to find out more about Evan and Parkade's services.

Transcribed with the help of

Listen to the audio episode here: 


Please do recommend Reinventing Parking or SHARE this article and episode with any of your friends or colleagues who might be interested. Please share on social media too!

Subscribe, if you haven't already (it's free):
  • sign up to get Reinventing Parking updates by email
  • subscribe to the audio podcast (search for 'Reinventing Parking' in your podcast player app or click the symbol that looks like a wifi icon in one of the players at the top or bottom of this article