Parking Policy & Housing Affordability

Much of American life now relies on the rhythm of driving our cars to work, school, the grocery store, and most other places we go. Most of us do not consider the cost of the parking spaces we enjoy when we drive our cars or the regulatory requirements that brought them into existence. Parking isn’t really free, even if we don’t pay for it at the time of use. Parking generates direct costs through construction, land, and maintenance expenses and indirect costs through inefficient land use.

When the cost of parking and the cost of housing are bundled into a single price, residents are denied the choice between paying for parking or renting a larger unit, saving for a home, or pursuing other household goals. The costs of parking fall most heavily on lower-income households and those who own fewer cars. If Whatcom County wants communities where everyone can afford to live, parking reform should be considered an important piece of policy action.

This Parking Report was prepared by Whatcom Housing Alliance Intern, Nate Jo, June 2022