200 square miles of spots, lots, and garages.

Some 200 square miles of Los Angeles County were dedicated to parking as of 2010. That equates to roughly 18.6 million parking spaces, or about 3.3 per registered car, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Those certainly sound like extravagant numbers, but what do they actually look like? Shane Phillips of the planning blog Better Institutions created a visual. Mashed into one hideous crater, all of L.A.’s parking (including curbside spots, lots, and off-street garages) runs 16 miles in diameter, and would encompass a staggering portion of the county’s urbanized area. (For comparison, here’s a map of all of L.A. County.) Phillips writes:

This imaginary parking lot … is enough to completely wipe out downtown LA, Boyle Heights, Chinatown, Koreatown, Westlake, Glassel Park, Silver Lake, and Echo Park; most of South LA; Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills; Mid-Wilshire; Culver City; most of the Westside; and all of USC, UCLA, and Griffith Park.

That is nearly half the area of the city of Los Angeles, and according to Phillips, home to about 2.3 million people and 900,000 homes. Those numbers give pause, especially as Los Angeles grapples with a severe housing crisis. As my colleague Eric Jaffe noted in December, L.A.’s parking stats didn’t emerge from thin air—a century of parking minimum requirements pushed the county into this big, red hole. There’s no easy escape, though smarter parking rules, transit-friendly development, and the conversion of existing lots into affordable housing are great places to start.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    What Happened When Tulsa Paid People to Work Remotely

    The first class of hand-picked remote workers moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in exchange for $10,000 and a built-in community. The city might just be luring them to stay.

  2. Design

    Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History

    Cartographers are mapping the coronavirus in more sophisticated ways than past epidemics. But visualizing outbreaks dates back to cholera and yellow fever.

  3. animated illustration: cars, bikes, scooters and drones in motion.
    Transportation

    This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

    To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.

  4. Maps

    For Those Living in Public Housing, It’s a Long Way to Work

    A new Urban Institute study measures the spatial mismatch between where job seekers live and employment opportunities.

  5. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

×