There has been a lot of discussion on parking and minimum parking requirements in the last week. I discussed some of the issues in a previous post. There are several issues that are often grouped together. The first is legal minimums -here is a recent paper that finds, unsurprisingly, minimum parking requirements significantly increase the amount of parcel area devoted to parking.
It is important to note that in a suburban setting many retailers have contractual minimum parking requirements independent of zoning and these requirements result in a large number of unused spaces for most of the year. Tenant requirements are not sized for "most of the year" and are in place for key shopping seasons like the end of the year where available parking is vital. Some commentators advocate charging for parking in these situations, however, the cost of providing this parking is reflected in the cost of occupancy and thus the price of the goods.
The second issue is subsidized free parking provided by cities.
Tyler Cowen has morein this post.
Additional commentary from O'toole. Although he is wrong about free parking in Manhattan, it indeed does exist as anyone who has watched the alternate side ballet can attest. Of course driver essentially camp in their cars waiting for these spaces to open up since they are priced so far below market.