Mixed Use=Free Parking

bustling main street

Originally posted on the B.A. Watkins Blog 10/12/2011 by Barry Watkins

One thing that comes up fairly often in conversations about the future of downtown Cocoa Beach is parking.  Some are concerned that if we add units downtown we won’t be able to find parking spaces or that we’re going to end up having to pay big bucks for parking garages to accommodate the need for parking.  Some have cited this as a reason to vote against mixed use in the upcoming referendum on Nov. 8th.  Well, an ironic thing about this is that mixed use will actually help make parking downtown much more efficient than what it is now.

Mixed use will actually help reduce the number of parking spaces needed in a few different ways:  #1 – When we build a mix of residential and commercial uses in close proximity to each other we automatically convert some of the necessary trips to walking trips for local residents.  #2 – In addition, parking is reduced as a result of the ability to combine trips.  Instead of getting in our car and moving it to another parking space we can park once and take care of multiple tasks in the same stop.  #3 – The sharing of spaces between different uses on the same block allows us to reduce the number of spaces.  The reason for this is that different uses will experience different peak parking times.  Think of what happens in standard separated use development:  During weekdays the parking lots at our workplace are packed, but the parking lots at apartment complexes and shopping centers are pretty empty.  In the early evening on weeknights and during the day on the weekends the shopping center lot is full but the others are empty.  Late at night the residential lot is packed but our workplace and retail lots are empty.  What’s wrong with this system?  It’s highly inefficient.  The number of spaces required is reduced substantially when a mix of all 3 use categories occurs on the same block.

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One Response to Mixed Use=Free Parking

  1. I wrote this article in 2011 before mixed use was passed in downtown Cocoa Beach. There is a parking shortage during certain times of the week downtown. The conventional solution is to just add more parking spaces, but too much parking destroys walkability. The answer is multi-faceted. Building the right mix of uses on each block downtown is part of the answer, and there are more pieces to the puzzle that we need to talk about. More to follow… –Barry Watkins


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