Problem, research strategy, and findings: Local governments’ minimum street-width standards may force developers to oversupply, and residents to pay excessively for, on-street parking in residential neighborhoods. Such oversupply is often presumed to both encourage car ownership and reduce housing affordability, although little useful evidence exists either way. This article examines the impact of street-parking supply on the car ownership of households with off-street parking in the New York City area.
The off- and on-street parking supply for each household was measured through Google Street View and Bing Maps. The impact of on-street parking on car ownership levels was then estimated in an innovative multivariate model. The unique set-up of the case study ensures 1) the weak endogeneity between parking supply and car ownership and 2) the low correlation between off-street and on-street parking supply, two major methodological challenges of the study. Results show that free residential street parking increases private car ownership by nearly 9%; that is, the availability of free street parking explains 1 out of 11 cars owned by households with off-street parking.
Takeaway for practice: These results offer support for community street standards that make on-street parking supply optional. They also suggest the merits of leaving the decisions of whether, and how many, on-street parking spaces to provide in new residential developments to private markets rather than regulations.
Research support: This project was supported by grants from the University Transportation Research Center (Region 2) and the Wagner School Faculty Research Fund.