Mandatory Bar Parking

I’ve complained often about the scourge of mandatory parking minimums and the damage they wreak on our economy, our communities, our public health, and our environment. Jonathan Hiskes raises the particularly absurd example of mandatory parking at bars:

Did you know that American cities usually require off-street parking at bars? To take a random example, the city of Long Beach, CA requires 20 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of gross floor area for “taverns”. I don’t know what the city thinks people are doing at these bars, but I assure you it’s drinking.

This is how insane our mentality is. Even bars, businesses whose sole purpose is to sell alcohol for on-site consumption, “need” off-street parking. Even though we know that people drive to them, drink, and drive home. Drink and drive. Yeah, let’s make sure these people have plenty of free parking.

Obviously it’s possible to go to a tavern, not consume alcohol, and drive home safely. I’ve even served as a designated driver in my day. But in general, public safety demands a very low ratio of “people driving home from the bar” to “customers drinking at the bar” so there’s clearly something absurd about the idea of regulating bar-related land use so as to encourage and facilitate extra driving.

And of course beyond the specific case of mandatory bar-parking, it’s always worth emphasizing that part of the cost of an auto-dependent built environment is to massively increase the number of people on the road who’ve got at least a drink or two under their belt. The human toll of this kind of drunk driving is, in the aggregate, quite severe.