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Across cities in the U.S., municipal codes force homes, businesses, and offices to build way too much parking. One the most outrageous examples of parking regulations outlined by U.S. Pirg are the parking lots that are required of establishments like bars and nightclubs have. If driving while intoxicated can be deadly and illegal, why do so many of these have huge parking lots that encourage people to drive there? Especially considering that about one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver.
In Los Angeles County, bars and nightclubs are required to provide at least one parking space per three occupants, or 10 spaces at minimum. According to an annual report by the DMV, California had a total of 123,548 DUI arrests, 26,967 alcohol-involved crash injuries, and 1,294 alcohol-involved crash fatalities in 2017. Of all 2016 DUI arrests, 21.0% were associated with a reported traffic crash.
The average age of a DUI arrestee in 2017 was 31 years-old, and less than 1% of all DUI arrests were of minors and 4.2% were of drivers over the age of 60. Moreover, the median blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a convicted DUI offender in 2016 was 0.16%, which is double the California illegal per se BAC limit of 0.08%.
While the number of alcohol-involved fatalities declined by about 4% over the past 22 years, the number of drug-involved fatalities increased by about 212% over the same time period. As highlighted in the aforementioned article, “huge parking lots make bars inconvenient to access on foot and provide implicit encouragement for visitors to park their personal cars at the bar, have a few drinks, then drive home.”
Parking requirements further enable a car-dependent transportation system and society, that can be dangerous. Studies have shown that increasing the parking supply means more driving, which ultimately leads to more drivers competing for roads and parking in the future. Mandating excessive parking forces buildings to strand themselves in concrete “deserts,” which leads to limits on residents’ options to travel safely by foot, bicycle, or public transit, forcing everyone into cars instead.
Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) is reportedly tackling the uses that arise with parking minimums with A.B. 1401. The bill would prohibit cities from imposing minimum parking requirements on certain developments, specifically those located near existing public transit. So far, it has strong support from housing advocates, affordable housing developers, and a few California mayors.
“Cars and parking are supposed to make our lives easier and more convenient,” Friedman said at a press conference to announce the bill, “And sometimes they do. But they also bring costs.” Those include steadily increasing emissions and fuel use, making it more difficult for residents to exist without a car, more sedentary lifestyles
A.B. 1401 would not prohibit building any parking. Instead, it would prohibit cities from setting minimum requirements for certain developments in areas where other options exist.
Meea Kang, an affordable housing developer and one of the bill’s sponsors, reportedly said at the same press conference: “[A.B. 1401] will help new developments, reduce traffic, improve air quality, increase walkable healthy resilient communities, and help keep dollars local.”
A.B. 1401 has been set for a hearing in the Local Government Committee on Wednesday, April 14.