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Rumblings & Bumblings Responses: Delayed but Not Forgotten

Hey Everyone! Thanks for waiting patiently as we overcame some issues with broken internet. Friday is a great day to answer your (and our) questions. If you have questions for us, please email them in before next Tuesday, la@curbed.com.

1) Los Angeles: Our query about the move to eliminate compact parking stalls generated a very thoughtful response from Mitch Glaser. "The provision of parking spaces and the dimensions of such parking spaces are two separate issues. Any increase in the dimensions of a parking space cannot be tied to a decrease in the amount of parking that must be provided... I agree that we should re-evaulate parking requirements. I'm not convinced that every 250 square feet of retail should require a parking space or that every dwelling unit should require one or two parking spaces (especially if public transit is nearby)." Continue reading Mitch's entire response below, after the jump.

2) Malibu: Where is Malibu City Hall? A reader emails some directions, here. As you can see above, Malibu City Hall is in the middle of a grassy field and is invisible. GoogleMaps never lies. And we really doubt there were any protests there.

3) Los Angeles/New York: A reader asks about a Los Angeles version of the Gawker Stalker web site that lets New Yorkers track their favorite celebrity by use of a GoogleMaps mash-up. Our mole in Gawker HQ says: "That would make sense, no? But nothing immediate is planned. Heh." Silly, silly mole.

Answer to Question 1, courtesy of Mitch Glaser.

"The provision of parking spaces and the dimensions of such parking spaces are two separate issues. Any increase in the dimensions of a parking space cannot be tied to a decrease in the amount of parking that must be provided.

The move towards "compact" parking spaces occurred in the aftermath of the gas crises of the 1970's. Auto makers began producing smaller cars, so it seemed logical that a certain amount of off-street parking spaces should have smaller dimensions. In the past decade, auto makers have curtailed their production of smaller cars; instead, they have produced cars that are larger than any we have seen on the road for decades. The "compact" spaces intended for the Datsuns of 1979 cannot accomodate the Hummers of 2006.

The problem with "compact" parking spaces is that there is no mechanism to ensure that "compact" cars will occupy them, especially when few of the cars produced today will fit in them. We've all experienced the frustration of seeing a large SUV in a "compact" space, its presence inhibiting other cars from parking next to it. Sometimes an SUV driver will occupy two "compact" parking spaces, knowing that that there's nothing to stop them. Few property owners employ "compact parking police" to ensure that these spaces are occupied by cars that can actually fit into them.

The provision of parking spaces is not based on the size of spaces (or cars) but on the number of spaces (or cars) that necessary to serve the land use. When it comes to retail, one parking space for every 250 square feet of space is the norm; it matters little whether that space is 7'6" wide or 8'8" wide or whether that space will be occupied by an H2 or a Mini. Similarly, one to two parking spaces for every residential unit are the norm, regardless of the cars that the occupants prefer to drive.

Curbed LA is right: bigger parking spaces require bigger parking lots. But parking doesn't necessarily need to be provided in paved lots, it can be provided in parking structures or underground. Developers will have to spend more to build larger parking spaces, but they shouldn't be allowed to provide "compact" parking spaces few cars can fit into.

I agree that we should re-evaulate parking requirements. I'm not convinced that every 250 square feet of retail should require a parking space or that every dwelling unit should require one or two parking spaces (especially if public transit is nearby). However, every parking space that is required should be large enough to fit the average car. The "compact" parking spaces most jurisdictions still allow are not large enough. If a jurisdiction decides that its parking spaces must be larger, it cannot be expected to decrease the number of parking spaces required in the first place."