Model apartments and parking

I like to tell my wife — a mathematician — there are three types of people. Those who can count, and those who can’t.

I am among the mathematically challenged. Arithmetic I’m OK with. And I like facts and figures too. And I learned enough in grad school statistics to never trust anyone else’s numbers.

So I was delighted to come across a story from 2013 (thanks to reader PT and MMM) that actually proposes a [hypothetical] model apartment building and then varies the parking requirements. One space per unit. Or more. Or less,  per unit. And then traces the consequences of that on the shape of the building, the number of apartments supplied, and the rent of those resulting apartments. There are also significant consequences made visible for the neighbours and the neighbourhood, what with garage doors or surface parking and setbacks.

It made for an interesting read. Not without room for quibbles, of course. But for anyone involved in planning advocacy, this story is worth a read:

I do wish our planning department could come out with some similar factual, simply explained “stories” that ordinary citizens can read and get a better understanding of why there will be more development in their neighbourhood but the roads won’t be getting wider/bigger; why having extensive tracks of low density housing means that higher density often means very tall buildings instead of “like Paris, just six stories…”; or why having a variety of housing types in every neighbourhood benefits everyone; or why evolutionary change is better than the “frozen in time” by detailed zoning system we have now; and driving till you can buy is a mugs game, as is the municipally-sanctioned ponzi scheme of peripheral greenfield development. In this line, I’ll point out that the single most searched for historic blog story here was on how to make the wrong arguments to planning committee.

Until then, enjoy this read:

Apartment Blockers

Apartment Blockers


7 thoughts on “Model apartments and parking

  1. Odd choice of picture for this post. The condo building pictured has 17 units and only 6 parking spots, and was a very contentious design decision at the neighbourhood meeting where it was proposed.

  2. Thanks for the link to the most interesting article. And some of the comments at the bottom are amusing, as for example the chap on “engineering foundations”. You obviously do not need to dig deep holes provide stable foundations for a medium rise building. Also in the comments, the imperfect understanding of economics seems to go along with imperfect understanding of technical matters. But in the example the developers seem the winners with their assured return, with simpler construction…

  3. Good article and thanks for introducing me to that site. There is another interesting article from January, 2016 about dynamic pricing for parking. And the money earned could stay in the neighbourhood.

    1. Jane: our community assoc is working on a parking benefit district prototype if the Sens arena is approved.

      1. I never knew parking could be so interesting. But I’m sceptical about the arena ever being built. I should get more involved.

  4. Great article. Some thoughts

    First, any urban area will contain people who walk, or bike, and who do not own a car. Given the fact of a compact urban centre, a well developed multi-use pathway system, a transit system that accommodates bicycles and a forthcoming LRT system, the likely Ottawa market size of human powered persons (HPP) is likely to be significant.

    But HPP individuals are constrained in their choice of housing by a city which demands every accommodation unit be provided with a parking space. The HPP percentage of the population is therefore being treated unfairly and denied the advantages of free market capitalism which, if left to its own devices, would likely see the creation of housing units with zero associated parking spaces and considerably lower rents (or condo prices) for the HPP population.

    What appears to be needed is an HPP Association able to fight back against the Soviet apparatchiks in City hall who interfere with market dynamics to the detriment of every citizen.

    Faced with the choice between paying high housing costs, and the high cost of car ownership, and the lower costs associated with an HPP lifestyle, the science of economics suggests more persons would elect to follow an HPP lifestyle. In other words there would be an increasing level of demand for accommodations which contain no parking spaces.

    The science of economics also suggests that this would generate a significant increase in economic activity. With the HPP population no longer having to pay for expensive holes in the ground they will benefit from increased disposable income and some portion of this increased disposable income will be spent on purchases made within the urban core. Every restaurant, bar and retailer within the city would likely benefit from an increasing HPP lifestyle.

    Lastly, the Trudeau government is introducing a carbon tax in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The introduction of a tax on a product with an inelastic demand curve is unlikely to provoke any change in human behaviour. Not publicly discussed by the Trudeau government is that fact that the carbon tax will be subject to GST and the increased tax take will deliver in excess of a billion dollars to the Federal treasury each year.

    If Canada is serious about CO2 emissions the best way to approach an emissions reduction is to demonstrated the lifetime savings associated with an HPP lifestyle. Combine a 30% reduction in accommodation costs (roughly estimated at $4,000 per year) with an estimated $8,000 annual saving in the cost of operating an automobile, and the annual savings of each HPP individual is $12,000 dollars. Ten years in the same dwelling and the savings amount to $120,000. That buys a lot of dinners out, four or five new sofas, plus a bicycle or two.

    It also provides a significant financial incentive to switch to an HPP lifestyle which is proven to deliver significant health benefits. These benefits should result in decreased medical costs across the population meaning the entire health care community has a budget which increases relative to demand.

    There likely exist other economic benefits associated with HPP. What is clear is that anything which promotes an HPP lifestyle will do more to deliver real benefits to Canadians than either Trudeau government tax increases, or the actions of the city hall Soviet apparatchiks.

    1. fjf: and the city does its best to thwart the lower cost of parking-free accommodation by allowing people to buy or rent those lower cost places and then exempt them from parking on the street rules, or to convert their lawn to parking spaces, thus converting cheaper units to more expensive units whilst wrecking the urban environment for the rest of us. Disgusting destructive behaviour.

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