That thing called “Parking”
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul C. Villarete (The Freeman) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

 Part 4.1 (Minimums)

First, it’s the issue on whether parking laws (and fees) may constitute selective class legislation (Part 1). Then in Part 2, we explained that we typically use our cars, on the road, only about 5% of the time; the rest of 95%, these are parked idly, in unproductively parking spaces. Last week, we arrive at figures that in any given city, we have between four to eight parking spaces per registered car. If we have 500,000 cars registered in LTO, we probably have two million to four million parking spaces in Cebu.

But how did we come to construct all these parking spaces? The answer is in the phrase “parking minimums.” When you apply for a locational clearance and a building permit, the first requirement that is asked is if you have sufficient parking. But how do we know how much is enough parking? Easy enough – the National Building Code (NBC), and the Zoning Ordinance and/or the Parking Ordinance (the latter usually included in the former) specifies these. Ask anybody who has ever applied for building permits in City Hall.

But where did these figures came from? Strangely enough, we don’t know. Almost always these are universal figures, customized to fit local situations. We copy from other cities and countries who probably copy from other cities and countries, and who most probably copied from the US or the UK, where most standards in the West originated. Same with our NBC. So, we require so many parking spaces depending on the use of the building or floor – residential, commercial, hospital, restaurant, factory, etc.

The problem is, it’s too general. Take for example schools – it requires so many parking spaces as number of classrooms. Or it may be the number of students. Or area of the floor or building. A hospital will be pegged on the number of beds; hotels half a space for each guestroom, not including the other areas, for example. Fairly straightforward. And rigid. It doesn’t take into account the peculiarities of each individual situation.

For example, without naming schools in Cebu, you will find some with empty parking spaces, while other are fully packed with a lot of cars parked outside, oftentimes illegally. And the reason is simply – some schools are for the rich and others cater to the less-privileged. But they are required the same standard of parking requirement. Same as hospitals, there are some where the rich go, all of them by car, often in more than one. But public hospitals cater to the poor who don’t have cars! But these building have the same parking requirements.

And since we always require new buildings with minimum parking slots, the inventory of parking spaces always increases as the city grows, regardless of whether the number of cars increase. Which they always do, too, due to the utter lack of car ownership regulations in the Philippines. And so, both the car, and its parking spaces, are racing against each other on which will grow faster! And you complain about parking? (To be continued)

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