SPUR and MTI Announce New Dataset Revealing Region’s Vast Parking Supply

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San Francisco Bay Area Parking Census reveals 15 million parking spaces in San Francisco Bay Area
February 28, 2022
San José, CA

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) and SPUR announced the release of the San Francisco Bay Area Parking Census and technical report with research findings and methods. This parking census is the most detailed assessment of parking infrastructure produced for the San Francisco Bay Area and represents an important starting point for crafting parking reform policies. The census helps fill data gaps about parking to inform policy reforms and will help policymakers make better decisions for the future of Bay Area cities. 

This technical report, and the accompanying San Francisco Parking Census dataset, were developed by principal investigator Mikhail Chester, Ph.D., and his team at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University on behalf of MTI. The project is also supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation while Urban Habitat and Transform served as project advisors. 

Until now, parking has been both ubiquitous and uncounted. Despite this, policymakers have required almost every new development to provide parking, accumulating an ever-larger supply of parking. 

Findings of the parking census include:

  • The nine-county Bay Area has 15 million parking spaces, enough parking to wrap around the planet 2.3 times.
  • Almost 20% of the incorporated land in the region is devoted to driving and storing vehicles.
  • There are approximately 2.4 spaces for every car and approximately 1.9 parking spaces for every person in the Bay Area.

In short, there is far more parking than we need. This excess parking has become an expected part of the urban landscape and makes residents more likely to drive, increasing carbon emissions and worsening climate impacts. It also contributes to other urgent issues in the Bay Area, such as the housing shortage, high housing costs, air pollution and respiratory disease, high rates of injury and death from collisions, and traffic congestion. 

“We’ve known parking in the Bay Area to be a multi-faceted problem, and now, thanks to this partnership with SPUR and thorough research, we have quantifiable data that will lend itself to mitigating those issues,” explains MTI’s Deputy Director Dr. Hilary Nixon. 

“SPUR is honored to have partnered with MTI to create this first-of-its kind research to support data-driven parking policies,” said Laura Tolkoff, Transportation Policy Director at SPUR. “Instead of storing cars for free, we could build more homes for families and lower the region’s housing costs, make it faster and safer for people to get where they need to go on a bus or a bike, or install rain gardens to clean and capture stormwater. Sufficient housing and a safe environment are far more precious than a parking spot.”


At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. Founded in 1991, MTI is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

SPUR is a nonprofit public policy organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. We bring people together from across the political spectrum to develop solutions to the big problems cities face. With offices in San Francisco, San José and Oakland, we are recognized as a leading civic planning organization and respected for our independent and holistic approach to urban issues.

Mikhail Chester, PhD
, was the lead MTI Researcher on this project and is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment; Alysha Helmrich, PhD is a Research Scholar at Arizona State University; and Rui Li is Graduate Research Assistant at Arizona State University.


Media Contact:

Irma Garcia, 

MTI Communications and Operations Manager

O: 408-924-7560

E: Irma.garcia@sjsu.edu


Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu