Here’s how much space U.S. cities waste on parking

In cities that are struggling to find space to build affordable housing, a simple solution might be found in the vast areas set aside for storing cars.

In Seattle, there are around 1.6 million parking spaces–more than five for every household in the city. Des Moines, a much smaller city, also has roughly 1.6 million parking spaces, or 19.4 per household. The small town of Jackson, Wyoming, has 27.1 parking spots per household.

A new report calculates, for the first time, exactly how many parking spots are in five cities–New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Des Moines, and Jackson–and gives a sense of how much money and land is being wasted on car storage. It’s data that cities don’t have now, because it’s hard to gather a comprehensive list of spots–not only the ones on streets but in garages and on private land. The report analyzes satellite data to identify some parking spots, pulls on-street parking statistics from city records, and finds other off-street parking in parcel data. The basic finding: Cities have far more parking spaces than they need.

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