Parking in New Haven

I never like to visit a place without checking out its local parking regulations. So I found the New Haven zoning ordinance and I looked up the quantity of parking that you need to build in order to construct something in the designated zones for “General High-Density Residential”:

One parking space per dwelling unit (except that only one parking space shall be required for each two elderly housing units) located either on the same lot as the principal building or within 300 feet walking distance of an outside entrance to the dwelling unit to which such parking space is assigned, and conforming to section 29 and the remainder of the General Provisions for Residence Districts in Article IV.

To repeat my usual spiel, this will tend to reduce the economic efficiency of the city in which the rule is in force. What’s more, it will drive the market price of housing higher than it otherwise would be will driving the market price of parking lower than it otherwise would be. Since cars are expensive and poor people often don’t own them, whereas well-to-do families may own several, this amounts to a regressive transfer from the poor to the rich. On top of all that, artificially cheap parking is bad for the environment.

Also note that the density we’re talking about here is not in fact very high:


Maximum gross floor area: No such building or buildings shall have a gross floor area greater than 0.5 times the lot area; except that this floor area may be increased by 0.1 times the lot area (up to a maximum of 1.7 times the lot area) for each one percent of lot area by which the building coverage of the principal building or buildings is reduced below the maximum of 25% of lot area set by subparagraph (c) above.

Does it really make sense for the government of an under-populated and economically depressed city to be saying “no thanks” to real estate developers who might want to make a very large investment in the city? There’s a place in life for economic distortions, but that place is not when the distortions are also pro-pollution and your city has a poverty rate way above the national average.