Hotels have too much parking

By Eric Sundquist

Localities with minimum parking standards typically require one parking stall per bedroom for hotels. That rate is relatively consistent with findings from ITE’s current “Parking Generation Manual,” which calculates 85th percentile parking demand at 0.99 stalls per bedroom for hotels and 0.83 stalls per bedroom for “business hotels.”

New research by consultant John Dorsett and published in ITE Journal suggests those numbers are outdated, because more hotel guests are arriving by TNCs like Uber and Lyft, as well as by taxis.

Dorsett collected parking utilization data at suburban hotels in Florida in late 2019 and early 2020, just before COVID disrupted travel behavior. The hotels had limited services (no full-service restaurants or tourist attractions), were not convenient to rail transit, and had standalone parking unlikely to be used by patrons of other businesses.

He found an 85th percentile utilization rate of 0.58 stalls per bedroom, even though occupancy rates were higher than average for U.S. hotels. “Based upon the information gathered and the available data analyzed, the parking supply ratio for the limited-service hotel guest room component can potentially be reduced from the required one space per room to 0.58 spaces per room,” Dorsett writes.

Parking demand might be higher for hotels with destination restaurants and attractions, Dorsett notes. But in many cases demand might be far lower, he writes, citing anecdotal information showing city-center hotels at 0.2 stalls per room or even less.

Parking minimums are an important aspect of transportation policy. Arguably they should be eliminated in favor of letting building owners right-size their lots and garages. But where minimums remain, excessive standards have many negative effects, including imposing unneeded costs on building users, adding environmental harms from additional pavement, and spreading out land uses in a way that makes non-auto travel difficult.

Photo credit: Kelly Lacy via Pexels, unmodified. License

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