A number of cities, including DC, are rethinking parking minimums, or rules that require new buildings to have a certain amount of parking. This video from Ottawa explains why parking minimums can be harmful.

Parking costs more than many people think. Surface parking lots are expensive in that they deprive land owners of using the land for something that’d be more profitable (like housing). They also make neighborhoods less comfortable to walk around in. And building undeground lots requires a tremendous amount of resources.

The video points out that Ottawa’s best neighborhoods were there before its parking rules came about, and that if you wanted to build places like them today you couldn’t because “you’d have to build so much parking to comply with the zoning.”

As cities provide residents with more choices to get around, from transit to bike lanes to sidewalks, fewer people need to drive. That means they also don’t need to park, which is allowing us to think about using space differently.

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Abigail Zenner, is a former lobbyist turned communications specialist. She specializes in taking technical urban planning jargon and turning it into readable blog posts. When she’s not nerding out about urban planning, transportation, and American History, you may find her teaching a fitness class. Her blog posts represent her personal views only.