Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Metro Vancouver study finds oversupply of on-site parking at apartments

Back in the summer, and again in the fall, I posted information about the Metro Vancouver Regional District’s on-going research into the utilization of on-site parking at apartment buildings throughout Metro Vancouver. Even in the South of Fraser, they found that on-site parking at apartment buildings was underutilized.

On-street parking on 204th Street near 54th Avenue in Langley City. 

The regional district compiled a series of key findings from its long-term parking study which was started in 2011 as follows:

  • For both rental and strata buildings, apartment parking supply exceeds use across the region. In strata apartment buildings, parking supply exceeds utilization by 42 percent, while in rental apartment buildings, parking supply exceeds utilization by 35 percent.
  • Apartment parking supply and use is lower for buildings closer to frequent transit (bus or rail).
  • Transit use is generally higher where apartment parking use is lower, especially for rental buildings.
  • Street parking is complex in mixed-use neighbourhoods. Some of the factors contributing to street parking use include: visitors to non-residential land uses in the evenings; apartment visitors on weekends, holidays, and special occasions; and some apartment residents parking on a nearby street.
  • The design and capacity of bicycle parking facilities in apartment buildings appear to discourage use by many residents.

I live in an apartment building, and there is never a time when I see our parking lot full. This seems to support the findings of Metro Vancouver’s study.

One of the comments that I heard from people, and see myself, is that in certain parts of Langley City on-street residential parking is harder to find. The Metro Vancouver study found that the worse time to find on-street parking in their study areas was on Saturday evening, where at 17% of the sites, on-street parking exceeded 85% utilization. 85% is the number at which it becomes difficult to find parking.

Again, this confirms my observation in Langley City where there are only certain areas with apartments where on-street parking is heavily utilized.

Comparison of parking supply and utilization at market rental sites. Select chart to enlarge.

The Metro Vancouver study did note that where on-site parking is included as part of rent, there is a slightly higher utilization rate of on-site parking. Where on-site parking is a paid optional component of rent, there is slightly higher on-street parking usage by residents though the study found that “street parking utilization on average does not approach 85 percent” outside of the City of Vancouver.

In Langley City, it found that on-street parking utilization was 67% on Saturday evenings, when on-street parking utilization is highest, at their study area around 19899 55A Ave.

Anecdotal observations from several peer municipal staff in Metro Vancouver suggest that there is a correlation between on-site visitor parking utilization and whether or not the nearby streets have regulations (i.e. where apartment sites tend to have lower facility utilization if the nearby streets are unregulated).

Langley City is in the process of starting a comprehensive parking management strategy for our community. I look forward to seeing its results and recommendations especially around on-street residential parking.

On-site parking is expensive to building, an underground parking spot costs around $20,000 $55,000. If on-site parking is underutilized, there is an opportunity to reduce the cost of building apartments. It also means that there is an opportunity to use less land for parking which helps create more affordable and environmentally sustainable communities.

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