PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 1 |parksparking lotsto *concepts in sustainableparking-lot planning and design
introductionChances are, you pass by dozens every day. Most days,you use one or more. And you probably don’t spend muchtime at all considering to what extent parking lots make up theKansas City regions urban and suburban landscapes.Parking lots have a significant impact on consumerstransportation habits, the local economy and the environment.Parking provides accessibility and independence that allowsresidents to choose where they live, work and play. Althoughsome amount of parking is essential, how much parking tosupply is a question with which many communities struggle.When the automobile first became widely popular, too littleparking was a problem. Not enough parking causes crowdingand congestion, upsets business owners and increases timespent getting to a destination. But more recently, too muchparking has become a problem. In the Kansas City region, largemasses of unoccupied parking are left unused for days, weeksor even months. This underutilized infrastructure has bothdirect and indirect impacts on the environment. Vast expansesof asphalt contribute to the urban heat island effect, a warmingpattern induced by man-made structures. Surface parking lotsalso impact the region’s air and water quality, and increasestormwater runoff and the risk of flooding.The Kansas City region comprises 4,423 square miles, morethan 840 of which is developed land. Although downtownsgenerally have higher amounts of parking than suburban andrural areas, in general, 10 percent of regions urban areas areMore than 20 percent of the land cover in downtown Kansas City, Mo.,is made up of off-street parking. This does not account for on-streetparking or underground parking garages — in reality the amountof parking downtown is much greater. The map above highlights majorsurface lots.
typically devoted to parking.1A study by the Houston AdvancedResearch Center found that 15 percent of Houston’s developedarea is dedicated to parking.2If a similar 10–15 percent ofthe Kansas City region’s developable area is dedicated toparking lots, the region could have as much as 126 squaremiles of parking.Besides taking up land that could be used for other purposes,an oversupply of parking has indirect effects. Expanses offree parking can mask the true cost of driving and discouragealternative modes of transportation, such as transit and cycling.Parking is often called the link between transportation andland-use planning. Although regions are required by federallaw to develop long-range transportation plans, parking isguided primarily by local needs and development. Developingsustainable regions must not only consider regional and localassets, but also how those assets can be accessed by thepublic. Sustainable parking policies encourage parking lotsthat not only lessen their environmental impacts, but produce ahealthier society and economy.This guide looks at parking strategies that aim to reduce overalldemand for parking, as well as design guidelines that reducethe direct impacts of parking lots. Sustainable parking policyhas been discussed by professionals throughout the regionfor the past year and a half. Through workshops, case studies,national examples, conceptualizing local plans and research,these professionals from varied backgrounds collaborated andformed the Parking Lots to Parks Task Force. This documentreflects their recommendations and findings.parking lots to parks project conceptGoal: Add more green space, or "parks," throughoutthe region by redesigning parking lots to make themmore sustainableBaseline: 51 square miles of parks, up to 126 squaremiles of parkingParks provide many benefits — including reduced airtemperature, stormwater filtration, and cleaner air andwater — that do not exist for most traditional parkinglots. Parks are designed for people, not for cars.Making the regions existing parking lots moresustainable will help offset the impacts parking lotshave and create greener, healthier environments.
| 4 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSsustainable parking: a snapshot of issues and solutionsthe environmental issueParking lots are often made up of large expanses of darkasphalt, which absorb sunlight and increase air and surfacetemperatures. Increased temperatures lead to more energy usedto keep buildings cool, increased amounts of ozone pollution, anddecreased health and comfort. As the region loses green spaceto pavement, it also creates large areas through which water canno longer filter. This contributes to flash flooding, degraded waterquality, and stream and river erosion.plant shade treesShade trees combat many of these problems byblocking sunlight and reducing surface and airtemperatures. Requiring shade trees in parkinglots is one of the best solutions for reducingthe negative effects of large amounts ofpaved surfaces.the space issueParking lots are often built too large, and are therefore vacantmost of the time. Vast amounts of vacant parking are not onlyan eyesore, they’re also a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists,who often can’t cross them safely. Parking lots can also obscurestorefronts. These types of developments are difficult to serve bytransit, which further encourages automobile use.set maximum parking ratiosThe easiest way to cut down on the oversupply ofparking is to set maximum parking ratios, whichset an upper limit on parking.the price issueThe majority of parking is “free.” But rather than paying directlyfor parking, consumers pay for it indirectly through higher renton apartments, increased sale prices, or reduced paychecks. Thishides the economic and social costs of driving and perpetuates thecycle that supports auto-travel subsidies, leaving other modes oftransportation struggling to catch up.uncover the costsBy supporting alternative transportation, suchas transit and bicycle/pedestrian facilities,consumers can begin to reduce dependence oncars. Reducing free parking near transit stopsand pedestrian-friendly nodes helps support othertransportation modes.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 7 |impacts of parkingeconomic impactsParking is anything but free, but in many places, consumersoften pay nothing to park; the cost of parking is hidden bycharging higher prices for everything else. Donald Shoup,professor of urban planning at the University of California–LosAngeles notes that “we unknowingly support our cars withalmost every commercial transaction we make because a smallshare of the money changing hands pays for parking.”3Parking is only one of the many ways the region continues tosubsidize auto travel. As Greater Kansas City works to makealternative modes of transportation viable, it should considerstrategies that unmask the cost of parking.social impactsSubsidizing auto transportation perpetuates a cycle ofdependence on the car, which not all citizens can afford. If youlive in a home, you probably have a place to park a vehicle — orseveral. You probably didn’t have to request this space, but youare paying for it whether you use it or not. Most homeownerswho don’t own cars still have to pay for the additional landspace and square footage used to house a car.Although the cost of surface lots varies considerably across the U.S.,studies show that the construction of a single surface parking spacecould range from $2,000–$8,000.
| 8 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSenvironmental impactsUrban Heat Island EffectWithout landscaping and trees, sunlight beats down on darkpavement in parking lots, adding to the urban heat islandeffect. The effect refers to the increased temperature thaturban environments experience over their grassier, ruralcounterparts. The reduced vegetation and concentration ofdark, heat-absorbing materials, such as pavement and buildingmaterials, can raise the temperature of an urban environmentup to 22 degrees above that of comparable countryside. Theseincreased temperatures lead to a number of problems including:• Increased energy consumption. Peak utility loadscan increase 1.5–2 percent for every 1 degree increasein temperature.5• Thermal water pollution• Increased ozone pollution• Compromised human health and comfortParking lots constructed with dark materials and withoutvegetation play a large role in contributing to the urban heatisland effect.Air QualityParked cars emit evaporative hydrocarbons that contributeto ozone pollution. The warmer a car’s fuel tank at rest, thegreater amount of emissions it produces — which is whyfighting the urban heat island effect is so important. ExposureUnshaded asphalt surfaces can reach temperatures of 160 degrees, morethan twice as hot as vegetated surfaces with moist soil.4
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 9 |to even low levels of ozone pollution has been shown to causea number of breathing problems, particularly in urban areaswhere exposure occurs consistently over a long period of time.Some of the ways that ozone pollution affects health include:• Irritation of the respiratory system• Reduced lung function• Difficulty breathing• Worsened asthma symptoms• Damage to the lining of the lungsRoughly one out of three people in the U.S. are at risk ofexperiencing ozone-related health effects.6Children, seniorsand adults who work outdoors are among the most susceptiblepopulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is in theprocess of strengthening ozone standards due to increasedunderstanding about the health risks of ground-level ozone.The region has struggled to meet ozone standards for decades,and with stricter standards on the way, it is important thatstrategies to reduce harmful emissions be considered.Stormwater Volume and Impaired Water QualityParking lots are typically constructed out of impervioussurfaces — those that do not allow water to penetrate throughto the soil below. Instead of being absorbed into the soil, waterruns into storm drains that funnel stormwater into nearbystreams. This prevents groundwater recharge, increasespollution in streams, increases the risk of flooding, and erodesstream banks. Decreasing the amount of impervious surfacesOne small parking lot with 145 spots can generate as much as 34,000gallons of stormwater during a single Kansas City rainstorm.
| 10 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSthe region constructs can reduce flooding, allow soil andvegetation to filter pollution, and help reduce the urban heatisland effect.Parking lots, with their expansive amounts of impervioussurface, can lead to more frequent and severe flooding, andas a result, decreased water quality. Flooding is the secondmost common natural disaster across the country, second onlyto fire. Since 1993, the region has suffered a cumulative totalof 14 deaths, $49 million in crop damages and $111.6 millionin property damage as a result of floods.7The most commonand dangerous type of flood is a flash flood, which is generallycaused by brief, heavy rainfall. Parking areas have a highamount of pollution from vehicle leaks, so it is important tomanage stormwater runoff from lots appropriately.Parts of Kansas City, Mo., and Wyandotte County havecombined sewer systems. Stormwater runoff entering stormdrains within these communities mixes with raw sewage andgets cleaned before returning to rivers. With combined sewersystems, because of the large amount of impervious surfaces,rain events often cause a sudden increase in stormwaterrunoff, causing runoff mixed with raw sewage to back upand overflow.A flash flood on Brush Creek in July 2010 illustrates the importance ofmanaging stormwater wisely.
influences on parkingThe amount and quality of parking lots throughout the KansasCity region is a result of everyday decisions. If everyonechooses to drive a vehicle daily, the demand for places to storethose vehicles increases. If people choose to ride a bike ortake the bus, demand for parking lots decreases. In addition toconsumer decisions, parking policy and guidelines are set forthin local communities’ zoning codes. The region’s landscapecontains a patchwork of parking policies from the 120 cities thatmake up the metro area.This section examines topics — including travel trends andparking policies — that help explain why the region has theparking lots it does today.population and densityThere are about 1.9 million people living in Greater KansasCity, and those residents are spread across about 4,423 squaremiles. In the last several decades, population in the regionhas shifted further away from the urban core. The region hasconsistently maintained one of the lowest population densitiesin the nation, and its location in the Great Plains has allowedit to consume the plentiful, inexpensive land around it. Theway Greater Kansas City develops across its landscape affectsthe region’s travel trends, and in turn, the supply and demandof parking.The average Kansas City residenttravels 29 miles per day, which putsthe city among the top 15 U.S. citiesof its size for most miles traveleddaily per capita.8
| 14 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKStravel patternsThe relationship between where the region’s 1.9 millionresidents live and where they work greatly impacts the needfor parking. Although populations continue to shift outward,downtown remains a large employment hub. Significantemployment corridors also exist along I-35 and CollegeBoulevard in Johnson County. Although some individuals liveclose enough to walk to work, most of the region does not havethat option. In 2008, 82 percent of commuters in the KansasCity region traveled to work by driving alone.Supplying free parking reinforces single-occupancy vehicletrips. The region’s low-density development pattern alsoimpacts the number of vehicle trips in the region and thedistance traveled on each of those trips. Land-use andtransportation patterns necessitate a large amount oftransportation infrastructure to serve the area. The Kansas Cityregion holds the national record for greatest number of lane-miles per capita. This infrastructure correlates with low trafficcongestion and the ability to travel further, faster.The spatial mismatch between population and employment, aswell as the well-established highway infrastructure, correlateswith high per-capita vehicle miles traveled. In fact, the regionhas a 20 percent higher-than-average auto travel rate thanother metropolitan areas its size.alternative transportationTransportation is the second-largest source of greenhouse gasemissions in the U.S., accounting for 27 percent of emissionsIn 2008, 82 percent of commuters in the Kansas City region traveled towork by driving alone.
since 1990.9The region’s rate of walking and bicycling as apercent of trips is about one-half the national average. Althoughthese figures did increase from 1990 to 2004, they are stillincreasing at half the rate of the national average. The regionalso has a patchwork of different transit providers. Only 2percent of the population traveled to work by transit in 2008.But the decision to use alternative transportation cannot happenif opportunities aren’t made available. Currently only 42 percentof the region’s population has transit available within a half-mile— about a 10-minute walk.planning and policyBoth regional and local policies impact parking and the region’soverall transportation system. Transportation Outlook 2040, theregion’s long-range transportation plan, guides transportationinfrastructure decisions based on a regional vision and goals.At the local level, zoning codes guide land-use decisions.Coordinated land-use planning is key for the success of aregional vision.Zoning codes in cities throughout the region affect both theamount of parking and the design of parking. Most citiesdetermine parking supply by requiring a minimum numberof parking spaces for different types of development. Thedesign of parking lots is often guided by parking stall-sizerequirements and interior landscaping requirements. Thesepolicies are key in influencing daily modal choice and urbandesign throughout the region.Currently only 42 percent of theregion’s population has transitavailable within a half-mile —about a 10-minute walk.
| 16 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSTransportation Outlook2040 goalsLocal Parking PolicyTraditional Challenges OpportunitiesAccessibility Maximize mobility and access toopportunities for all residents.Providing too much parking encourages caruse and discourages alternative travel.Maximum parking requirements make othermodes of transportation — such as walking,biking and transit — more viable options.Climate Change and Energy Use Decreasefossil fuel use by reducing travel demand,supporting technology advancements andmaking the transition to renewable energy.Parking availability increases energy andfossil-fuel use by encouraging driving.Economic Vitality Support an innovative,competitive economy.Too much parking wastes money on land andmaintenance. Free parking itself creates nolocal tax revenue.Turning parking lots into parks or othercommunity assets can create new opportunitiesto generate revenue.Environment Protect and restore theregion’s natural resources through proactiveenvironmental stewardship.Traditional parking-lot design often does notmitigate environmental impacts.Green parking-lot design — such as adding shadetrees and energy-friendly lighting — reduces theimpact parking has on the environment.Place Making Coordinate transportation andland-use planning to create quality places inexisting and developing areas.An abundance of unused parking does notcontribute to a place’s identity.Changing the location of parking lots from thefront of a building to the side or back createsinviting storefronts.Public Health Facilitate healthy, active living.Free parking encourages driving over walkingor taking alternative transportation.Maximum parking requirements and alteringthe location of parking makes alternative, activetransportation more viable.Safety and Security Improve safety andsecurity for all transportation users.Parking lots are often unsafe environmentsfor pedestrians.Lighting levels and the location of parking inrelation to development help provide safety andsecurity for pedestrians.System Condition Ensure the transportationsystem is in good condition.Large, underused parking lots createmaintenance traps.Constructing fewer new parking lots savesmoney, which can be used to better maintainexisting infrastructure.System Performance Manage the system toachieve reliable and efficient performance.Without knowing the current supply of parkingand what percent is actually used, the regioncontinues to pave more than it needs.Look for innovative ways to use and retrofitexisting parking lots.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 19 |the road tosustainable parkingThis section identifies a few of the many strategies that theregion could consider to reduce parking supply and demand.Several of these strategies are already in action or have beenrecently put into place by area cities. Some of those projectsare noted where applicable.The first step toward sustainable parking is to ensure that toomuch parking is not built, and the second is to reduce demandfor parking.reducing parking supplyMaximum Parking RequirementsFlexible Parking OptionsShared ParkingLandscaped Reservesreducing demand for parkingTransit Investment and Transit-Oriented DesignUnbundling ParkingBicycle RequirementsTraditional surface parking lots are part of Kansas Citys landscape.But do they need to be?
| 20 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSmaximum parking requirementsWhat is it?A maximum parking ratio establishes a maximum amount ofparking that can be built for a particular development. Maximumparking ratios work the same way minimum ratios do — bysetting out a parking ratio based on land use that cannot beexceeded. Maximum parking ratios can work independently orin conjunction with minimum parking ratios.Why change?The opposite of maximum ratios, minimum ratios were adoptedby most communities in the 1950s and 1960s as the first formof parking requirements. Minimum parking ratios worked for along time doing the job they were intended to do: ensuring thegrowing number of automobiles had a place to park. Today, theregion faces a different problem than it did a half-century ago:too much parking.Minimum parking ratios often require more parking than isneeded. There are two main reasons for this. The first is thatthey often do not reflect actual demand for parking. Somecities implemented parking ratios many years ago and haven’tupdated them. Other communities use national ratio standardsor copy other cities’ requirements when looking for minimums,which do not accurately reflect demand in their community.Another reason minimum parking ratios are inefficient isthat they reflect peak demand rather than typical or averagedemand. A retail store for instance, may be required to provideBusinesses that supplement on-street parking with smaller lots helpcommunities make the most out of surrounding land.
enough parking for customers shopping on the busiest day ofthe year, rather than an average day. This leaves the majority ofparking spaces sitting vacant a most of the time.Another problem with minimum parking ratios is that theyencourage more parking than needed. Developers oftenbuild two to three times the amount of parking required; butsometimes, this is due to the fact that many lenders requireadditional parking. Local regulations for maximum parkingcould help respond to this challenge.Maximum parking ratios can be particularly beneficial insuburban settings, where “big box” developments routinelyoverbuild their parking supply. But communities hesitantto relinquish minimum parking requirements have theability to develop maximum parking ratios as well. Bykeeping minimum ratios and establishing maximum ratios,communities provide a comfortable range that developers canbuild within while ensuring developers provide enough — butnot too much — parking.Local examplesThe cities of Leawood and Liberty both have maximum parkingrequirements in place. Leawood does not allow more parkingthan the minimum requirements without approval. In otherwords, the city’s parking ratios function both as minimum andmaximum requirements. Liberty requires developments not toexceed 150 percent of the minimum parking requirements.The value of the free-parkingsubsidy to cars was at least$127 billion in 2002, and possiblymuch more.3
| 22 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSshared parkingWhat is it?Shared parking reduces minimum parking requirements fornew development in close proximity to another parking lot orlots that are being used at different peak-demand periods. Forinstance, an office building near a restaurant or bar provides anopportunity for shared parking arrangements. Office buildingsexperience most of their business during weekday businesshours, and a restaurant or bar experiences peak demand onnights and weekends.Why change?No parking lot is full around the clock. Most parking lots have aspecific time that they receive the majority of their use. Thereare few reasons why two businesses or organizations locatednext to one another cannot share parking. Shared parkingreduces the overall amount of land dedicated to parking,providing more efficient use of that land and saving space forother amenities.Local examplesAcross the region, shared parking policies are much moreprevalent than many other sustainable parking practices. Abouthalf of communities that participated in a regional survey hadsome form of shared parking policy.Three restaurants sharing the same lot still makes for plentiful parking indowntown Kansas City, Mo.
landscaped parking reservesWhat are they?Landscaped parking reserves allow for a percentage ofrequired parking to be left as landscaping, or a land bank, to bedeveloped if and when the full amount of parking is needed.Why change?Many types of development do not experience their anticipateddemand immediately, but rather slowly over time. Othertypes of developments are completed in phases, which cantake years. Landscaped reserves are a viable option that allowfor increased demand over time.Sometimes, the demand for parking on a site is not reallyknown, and providing a landscaped reserve can allowjurisdictions to provide less parking while feeling comfortableabout having options to expand parking in the future. Buildinguses and demand for parking can change over time regardlessof how a parking lot is built the first time. Landscaped reserveshelp communities supply less parking, especially when thereare still concerns about running out in the future.Local examplesSeveral cities across the region are managing space effectively;Excelsior Springs, Mission and Harrisonville all allow forlandscaped reserves.Building uses and demand forparking can change over timeregardless of how a parking lotis built the first time.
| 24 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKStransit investments andtransit-oriented development (TOD)What is it?Investing in transit and policies that support transit is one of themost effective ways to reduce demand for parking. This can bedone by investing directly in transit services and amenities, orby encouraging TODs or location-efficient “pedestrian pockets,”which contain a mix of different types of development around atransit station.Why change?Transit services have to compete with the automobile, whichis heavily subsidized. To give transit a chance to succeed,parking supplies must be reduced around transit investments.Several cities within the region have created overlay districts,which encourage TOD or pedestrian-friendly environments.Eliminating or reducing parking within these districts is key totheir success.Local examplesThe city of Kansas City, Mo., allows for a reduction in parkingfor lots located within 500 feet of a rapid-transit stop. Othercities, such as Lenexa, allow for a reduction when a developercan show that a portion of parking demand is met by transit.Pedestrian- and transit-friendly areas like this one in the Kansas City,Mo., Jazz District encourage the use of transportation modes otherthan cars.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 25 |unbundling parkingWhat is it?“Unbundling” parking means separating the cost of parkingfrom other expenses that are often lumped together. A commonexample is renting an apartment, where the cost of renting aparking space is included as part of the price of renting theapartment. Unbundled parking would provide consumers theoption of also renting a parking space rather than having itincluded in the rent cost.Why?The cost of parking is generally lumped in with other costs,masking the true price of parking. Unbundled parking allowsindividuals to not only realize the true cost of parking, butto decide for themselves whether or not to pay for parking.Unbundled parking is a great strategy in urban areas whereindividuals may bike or choose transit rather than owning theirown vehicles.National exampleA condominium development located only a block from theMetroLink public transit system in St. Louis sold parking spacesseparately from the units. The development found that 20–25percent of buyers, when offered the choice, opted not topurchase a parking space.10On-street parking for residents is one example of how the cost of parkingcan be separated from costs that traditionally include hidden parking fees,such as rent.
| 26 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSbicycle requirementsWhat are they?Requiring bicycle facilities on-site is another way to reducedemand for parking. More communities than ever are nowrequiring a minimum number of bicycle facilities based on thenumber of spaces allotted for vehicles.Why change?Providing bicycle facilities not only guarantees individuals aplace to park their bikes, but generally provides an atmospherethat is more welcoming to cyclists and pedestrians, making iteasier to choose not to rely on an automobile.Local examplesThe city of Independence requires bicycle parking to beprovided in the amount of 5 percent of the obligated off-streetparking. Residential uses do not mandate bicycle parking, butschools, libraries and swimming pools require an increasedamount of 10 percent of the obligated off-street parking.The city of Kansas City, Mo., makes the distinction betweenshort- and long-term bicycle parking. In addition to the designof the bicycle parking, Kansas City lays out size and locationrequirements for both short- and long-term parking.Ample bike parking is an essential part of encouraging the use ofalternative transportation.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 29 |sustainable parking designOnce investigation ensures that parking is not beingoversupplied, the next step is improving the design ofnew and existing parking lots. Although communities can beplanned with reduced need for off-street parking, accessibleparking is still necessary to ensure consumer satisfaction andeconomic viability. But to be sustainable, parking-lot designmust reduce the detrimental effect parking lots often have onthe environment.Several concepts are covered in this section:Shade-Tree OrdinancesReduce Parking DimensionsCool PavementsBioretentionEfficient Lighting and Energy UseSmart design can make a big difference in the environmental impact of aparking lot.
| 30 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSshade-tree ordinancesWhat are they?Requiring that shade trees be planted throughout the interiorand exterior rim of parking lots cools pavement and thevehicles parked there. Shade-tree ordinances come in differentforms but the most common are:• Requiring a percentage of parking lots to be shaded aftertree maturity (typically 10–15 years)• Requiring a minimum number of trees be planted pernumber of parking spaces• Requiring parking spaces to be a minimum distance froma shade treeWhy change?Leaving paved surfaces uncovered allows them to collectsunlight, which perpetuates the urban heat island effect. Astudy done by NASA in Huntsville, Ala., showed that whiledaytime temperatures around a mall parking lot had surfacetemperatures of about 120 degrees, a tree island containing afew small trees in the parking lot reached only 89 degrees.Direct sunlight also heats up parked vehicles, causingevaporation from a vehicle’s fuel delivery system. About 16percent of evaporative emissions are the result of daytimeheating of parked vehicles.11Shade trees lower the surface andair temperature in parking lots, reducing the evaporation ofhydrocarbons from parked vehicles.Shade trees keep cars cool and reduce the surface temperature ofparking lots.
Interior landscaping requirements are becoming more commonin the Kansas City region. These ordinances generally requirea percentage of a parking lot’s interior to be landscaped ratherthan paved. Interior landscaping requirements are an easyway to mandate vegetation in parking lots. Interior landscapingrequirements in the Kansas City region generally range from5–10 percent, depending on the size of the parking lot and thepurpose it serves. Although interior vegetation requirements dohelp, the shade benefits of trees are unparalleled in reducingthe urban heat island effect and capturing pollutants.Local examplesIn a survey of area communities, about half had a minimuminterior landscaping requirement, which averaged about 5percent landscaping on the interior of the parking lot. Fewercommunities required trees to be planted on the interior ofparking lots. The communities of Raymore, Blue Springsand Leawood all require one tree to be planted for every 10parking spaces.National exampleSeveral communities in California require parking lots to be50 percent shaded after 15 years. Although many of the citiesfound that requiring developers to plant trees has been easy,getting the full benefits of the trees has been more difficult.Trees that are not planted properly or maintained often dieor do not develop to their full potential. Requiring minimumdimensions for landscaped islands is one way to ensure treeshave a chance to fully develop.A study done in Davis, Calif., foundthat fuel tanks in shaded vehicleswere 3.6–7.2 degrees cooler thanthe unshaded vehicles, reducinggreenhouse gas emissions.
| 32 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSreduce parking dimensionsWhat are they?Parking-space dimensions in the region range from a modest8.5-foot by 18-foot spot to a much larger 9-foot by 20-foot spot.This difference may seem insignificant, but it adds up to a lot ofwasted land and unnecessary surfacing.Why change?The size of each parking space determines the amount ofimpervious surface and land that a parking lot will take up.Most cities have development guidelines that require parkingspaces to be a certain size, which ensures that the communityis getting adequately-sized parking spaces.Parking spaces should reflect vehicle sizes. With compactvehicles on the rise, opportunities exist to not only reducerequired stall sizes, but to also allow for compactparking spaces.In addition to smaller parking dimensions, many cities areallowing the length of parking spaces to be reduced whenvehicles are adjacent to a curbed, landscaped area.Local examplesThe city of Kansas City, Mo., leads the region in allowingdevelopers to build compact parking spaces that measure 7.5feet by 15 feet. Kansas City, Kan.; Lenexa and Grandview alsoallow compact parking spaces.Reducing parking dimensions can help make the most out of limited land.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 33 |cool pavementsWhat are they?A cool pavement reflects a higher amount of sunlight thantypical pavement, creating a cooler surface temperatures.Why change?Changing material compositions in parking lots can reducethe urban heat island effect. The solar reflectance index, orSRI, is a composite index that the U.S. Green Building Counciland others use to estimate how hot a surface will get whenfully exposed to the sun. The surface temperature of an objectdepends on its reflectance, emittance and solar radiation.Emittance is an object’s ability to emit or transfer heat.Concrete is a classic “cool pavement,” but cool pavementsinclude more than just white concrete. Permeable pavements,which were originally developed for stormwater management,are emerging as cool pavements due to their ability to coolthrough evaporation. Another method, microsurfacing, appliesa thin layer of sealant onto a surface. Microsurfacing hastraditionally been applied for maintenance, but is now beingused to cool traditional pavements.Local examplesThe cities of Kansas City, Mo.; Independence; Leawood andMission all specifically allow pervious pavement. Othercommunities may permit pervious pavement, but referencing itdirectly in codes or ordinances may encourage its use.Permeable pavements are emerging as cool pavements due to their abilityto cool through evaporation.
| 34 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSbioretentionWhat is it?Bioretention areas are landscaping features engineeredto capture and filter stormwater runoff. Best managementpractices (BMPs) include a variety of bioretention designs thatcan be easily incorporated around the exterior of a parkinglot. Such features can also be incorporated into the interior ofparking lots and parking islands.Why change?Parking lots with impervious surfaces drain large amountsof rainfall, which is often polluted by chemicals and oil fromvehicles. Bioretention areas allow this rainwater to collectand filter back into the ground. Some parking lots may requirecatch-basin restrictors or oil/grit separators in order to helpprevent chemicals from getting into the water system. Ascommunities increase their stormwater utility fees over time,developers may have an additional incentive to incorporatedesign features that reduce stormwater runoff.Local exampleApplebee’s Support Center in Overland Park incorporatesseveral stormwater treatment features including terraced,vegetated swales in the parking lots; sediment basins; a surfacesand filter; and a downstream wetland. This combination offeatures treats the pavement runoff near the source, whichallows oils, salts and sediments to be cleaned through on-site,natural systems.Plantings around or within parking lots help mitigate impacts fromstormwater runoff.
efficient lighting and energy useWhat is it?Much of the energy consumed by parking lots is used forlighting. Because many parking lots stay lit 24 hours a day, it isimportant to consider more sustainable lighting options.Why change?Safety and security is a major concern with parking lots.Lighting helps illuminate parking spaces, aisles and pedestrianwalkways. Lighting should be appropriate in context and scaleto the environment.Parking lots present challenges in balancing safety issues,reduced energy consumption and light pollution. Using energy-efficient fixtures and bulbs and aiming lighting downward helpsreduce energy consumption and light pollution.Local exampleThe city of Lee’s Summit uses design standards that require50 percent of parking-lot lighting to be solar-powered, or 100percent of lighting to use LED fixtures. About 1.5 million metric tons ofcarbon dioxide are released eachyear as a result of lighting theregions parking lots.
| 36 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSproper locationWhat is it?Where parking lots are located in relation to city streets andbuildings has a big impact on the look of a community. Zoningcodes can regulate where parking is located. Some zoningcodes allow on-street parking spaces in close proximity to adevelopment to offset the required off-street parking.Why change?Parking lots are often placed between major corridors andbuildings, creating car-dominated areas. These environmentscan not only be unappealing, they can be unsafe for pedestriansbecause they often do not provide designated walkways.To encourage pedestrian environments, parking shouldbe located behind buildings as opposed to in front. Manycommunities are now requiring parking in certain districts to beplaced on the sides or behind buildings.Limited parking in front can allow both pedestrians and drivers easyaccess to stores.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 39 |concept plansThe Parking Lots to Parks Task Force completed conceptplans that would make a traditional parking lot in KansasCity, Mo., more sustainable. The task force was divided intotwo groups that each completed a plan in order to show a rangeof options.A parking lot at 12th Street and Broadway in downtown KansasCity, Mo., was chosen as the site the teams would work toreconceptualize. The parking lot contained none of the elementsthe task force had been discussing, and it was in such badshape that a site plan for future improvements was underwayby the owner. The goals of the plans were to:• Demonstrate sustainable parking-lot elements• Apply principles of sustainability to the Kansas City region• Provide cost estimates to show the feasibility ofthe designsThe concept plans were completed over a five-month period.Each plan emphasizes different elements, showing that therecan be many approaches to sustainability.The Parking Lots to Parks Task Force worked in teams to re-envision theparking lot at 12th Street and Broadway.
| 40 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSteam A concept planTeam A was torn between creating a concept plan thatmaximized sustainable elements and creating a concept planthat would be more feasible for a private owner — so the teamdecided to create both.The "Green Option" adds sustainable elements, brings theparking lot up to code, and maximizes the number of parkingstalls and potential profit. The "Air Quality Enhanced Option"incorporates many more sustainable concepts, includingadditional canopy cover; permeable pavement; right-of-wayimprovements to Broadway and 12th streets; and an inlet tocapture, clean and filter runoff from 12th Street.Green features of the new designs included:Green Option Air Quality Enhanced Green Option• Rain garden • Rain garden• 25.5-foot bioswale • 19.5-foot bioswale• 43 shade trees • 50 shade trees• Bicycle parking • Pervious pavement• Bicycle parking• Capture and treat street runoffThe team also conducted an ordinance comparison for KansasCity, Mo.; Lenexa and Overland Park. It found that new codeprovisions would be needed in order to allow for and requiremore sustainable parking opportunities. For example,some current city codes do not allow for reduced parking-stall dimensions.
| 42 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSteam B concept planTeam B wanted to create a functional parking lot that metKansas Citys sustainability goals, appealed to the public,created income for the owner, and established a communityicon for sustainability. The team also wanted to incorporatemultiple methods of conserving stormwater on-site to preventthousands of gallons of dirty water from dumping into the city’scombined stormwater-sewer system, costing the city money toclean and process. The design also had to be attractive enoughto appropriately display the aesthetic quality of sustainableplanning and design features.Green features of the new design included:• Pervious concrete• A living wall — a vertical arrangement of plants• Indigenous plants and trees• Monarch butterfly station• Dry detention natural-stone swale• Bioswales• Natural sustainable materials used throughout the site• Recycle, reduce and reuse trash receptacles• Environmentally friendly, low-VOC paint for striping stallsThe team estimated that these changes could reducestormwater runoff by as much as 95 percent, saving the citya significant amount in processing costs. The space wouldalso bring more revenue to the owner based on higher parkingfees because consumers would be more inclined to use the lotafter the redesign. The new site would also provide parking oraccess for multiple modes of transportation, including bicycles,cars and buses.The group also developed recommendations for gettingsustainable lots built in the metro area:• Present similar examples in other markets• Show where similar examples are locally• Calculate the financial benefit• Communicate additional benefits, such as reduced erosion,reduced heat-island effects through cooler pavement, andincreased safety and access• Encourage cities to modify their codes and regulationsto encourage sustainable construction methods, mitigateand filter stormwater runoff, and reduce the urban heatisland effect.
| 44 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSacknowledgementsThe Parking Lots to Parks Task Force included Leslie Alford, BlueRiver Watershed Association; Nate Baldwin, Platte County, Mo.;Mike Beezhold, city of Lenexa, Kan.; Carrie Bradley, Burns &McDonnell; Chris Calahan, OHH/OPP; Steve Casey, Lees SummitParks; Noel Challis, Platte County, Mo.; Chris Chiodini, city ofGrandview, Mo.; Pete Davis, Environmental Protection Agency,Region 7; Kristen DaMet, American Institute of Architects-KansasCity; Pam Fortun, city of Overland Park, Kan.; Marc Govea, city ofKansas City, Mo.; Steven Hamadi, Wilbur Smith Associates; AliceHannon, city of Lenexa, Kan.; Ted Hartsig, Olsson Associates; KerryHerndon, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7; Cate Holston,Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7; Christina Hoxie, BNIM;Gayle Hubert, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7; Erica Ise,University of Missouri-Kansas City; Gary Kannenberg, Tellus Group;Leslie Karr, city of Overland Park, Kan.; Tom Krahenbuhl, JacksonCounty, Mo.; Mike Latka, city of Olathe, Kan.; Brenda Macke, CDM;Dan Maginn, El Dorado Inc.; Christy Martin, Concrete Promotions;Tony Meyers, city of Overland Park, Kan.; Dennis Murphey, cityof Kansas City, Mo.; Patty Noll, city of Kansas City, Mo.; PeteOppeumann, Oppeumann Land Design; Laura Pastine, BNIM; TonyReames, city of Lees Summit, Mo.; Jerod Rivers, 180 DegreesUrban Design; Aaron Ross, BNIM; Stan Salva, city of Sugar Creek,Mo.; Andy Sauer, CDM; Jim Schuessler, BNIM; Joann Schwarberg,Landscape Architect, LLC; Debra Smith, city of Kansas City, Mo.;Kim Sorensen, OHH/ OPPC; Laura Turnbull, city of Lenexa, Kan.;Jeff Umbreit, city of Independence, Mo.; Dave Watson, TellusGroup; Gary Welty, city of Lees Summit, Mo.; and Mandy Whitsitt,Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7.This book was prepared by MARC staff members Kassandra Sheltonand Stephanie Williams, with contributions from Jennifer Blattman,Ginevera Moore, Amanda Graor and Tom Jacobs.Parking Lots to Parks Task Force members and others participated inseveral workshops on the topic of sustainable parking-lot design.
PARKING LOTS TO PARKS | 45 |SUSTAINABLE SKYLINESK A N S A S C I T YSUSTAINABLE SKYLINESK A N S A S C I T Yabout this projectsustainable skylinesGreater Kansas City was chosen as one of the first pilotcommunities to implement the Sustainable Skylines program.This program is a locally led, Environmental ProtectionAgency-supported initiative to reduce emissions and supportsustainability in urban environments.partners• City of Kansas City, Mo.• Unified Government of Wyandotte County /Kansas City, Kan.• Johnson County, Kan.• Mid-America Regional Council• Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce• Missouri Department of Natural Resources• Kansas Department of Health and Environment• Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7• Environmental Protection Agency,Office of Air Quality and Planning StandardsThese partners identified six projects that would:• Integrate transportation, energy, land-use andair-quality planning• Yield measurable air-quality benefits within three years• Promote collaboration among multiple stakeholders• Identify and leverage resources among partnersParking Lots to Parks is one of those six projects.
| 46 | PARKING LOTS TO PARKSendnotes1Trees, Parking and Green Law: Legal Tools and Strategies for Sustainability.University of Washington. 2004. http://www.cfr.washington.edu/research.envmind/Roadside/Parking_Trees_FS15.pdf.2Cool Houston! A Plan for Cooling the Region. Houston Advanced Research Center.2004. http://files.harc.edu/Projects/CoolHouston/CoolHoustonPlan.pdf.3Shoup, Donald. The High Cost of Free Parking. 2004.4Trees, Parking and Green Law: Strategies for Sustainability. University of Washington.2004. http://www.naturewithin.info/Roadside/Trees_Parking.pdf.5Cooling Summertime Temperatures: Strategies to Reduce Urban Heat Islands.Environmental Protection Agency. 2003. http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/resources/pdf/HIRIbrochure.pdf.6Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. 2009. http://www.sbcapcd.org/sbc/ozonehealth.htm.7Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. MARC. 2010. http://www.marc.org/emergency/pdfs/2010HMP/Section3RiskAssessment.pdf.8Transportation Outlook 2040, MARC. http://www.marc.org/2040.9Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Environmental Protection Agency.2010. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/indicators.html.10Patterson, Steve. "Downtown Still Going Strong; Neighborhoods and Inner SuburbsNeed Leadership." Urban Review STL, Nov. 20, 2006. http://www.urbanreviewstl.com/?p=2849.11Reducing Air Pollution through Urban Forestry. E. Gregory McPherson and James R.Simpson. 1999. http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/cufr/products/cufr_73.pdf.