The Cost versus Price for Parking Spaces at Major Employment Centers: Findings from UC Berkeley

Tudela-Rivadeneyra, Manish Shirgaokar, Elizabeth Deakin Aldo, University of California - Berkeley
Manish Shirgoakar, University of Alberta
Elizabeth A. Deakin, University of California - Berkeley
William W. Riggs, California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo


In dense urban areas, surface parking often poses an opportunity cost, and reuse of the land for urban development with parking relocated to a multistory structure may be an attractive option. This paper analyzes the cost of replacing surface parking with a parking structure and finds that it may be equally cost effective to pursue travel demand management strategies. The paper analyzes what it costs to build a parking space in a multi-story structure (garage) using US average data as well as data from a substantially higher-cost case, the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley case illustrates how replacement of surface parking with structures can substantially escalate costs and necessitate price increases for everyone, unless costs can be offset through more efficient utilization rates (e.g., renting out employee parking for evening and weekend use) or the parking system is credited for the land value of former surface parking (not likely in the situation considered here). A transportation demand management (TDM) program offering incentives for other modes of commuting can reduce the need for new parking, and its annual costs are likely to be lower than the amounts needed to cover new parking construction. Parkers could be better off paying for TDM programs to reduce parking demand rather than paying to build new parking structures. The findings are case specific but are likely to resonate with many employers and institutions that provide parking in high-cost urban areas.