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More Developers Are Installing Stacked And Other Innovative Parking Systems To Meet LA's Growing Demand For Parking

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Millennials don’t want to drive cars

Los Angeles public transportation will become more popular

The influx and popularity of ride-share and soon automated cars will mean fewer cars on the road.  

Don’t let these news reports fool you, Parkplus California President Michael O’Bryan said. 

Parkplus installed stacker system in Venice, CA.
Parkplus installed stacker system in Venice, Calif.

Maybe in some places these reports could ring true but because of the massive size of Los Angeles, residents are still reliant on a car to get them around and — per city requirements — developers and building owners have to provide parking spaces for these vehicles, O’Bryan said. 

“Parking here is still in heavy demand.”

As Los Angeles grapples with a housing shortage and the city pushes for higher-density transit-oriented multifamily and mixed-use developments, finding parking solutions for these residents and visitors is going to become a major issue especially in high-traffic and popular areas. 

Though some studies suggest there are actually more than enough parking spaces for LA city and county's 5.6 million vehicles, according to LAist, more and more developers and building owners are looking for ways to build an efficient, less space-consuming, cost-effective parking system.

A parking structure usually accounts for about 15% to 20% of a project cost, according to CityLift Vice President of Business Development Melissa Kakuk.

In Los Angeles, a general rule of thumb is that multifamily developers are required to create a parking spot for each bedroom that is built. A two-bedroom unit needs to have two parking spaces, one-bedroom units have to have a space and a half and a studio needs one parking space. For example, a 50-unit apartment consisting of only two-bedroom units must have 100 parking spaces.

Parkplus California President Michael O'Bryan
Parkplus California President Michael O'Bryan

For a retail center, the city requires a developer to provide one parking space for each 250 SF or four spaces for every 1K SF. So a 5K SF retail center would need at least 20 parking spaces.  

Office buildings require four parking spots for every 1K SF of building, according to the city, but there is a demand to have five parking spots per 1K SF, O'Bryan said. O'Bryan is speaking at Bisnow's Multifamily Annual Conference July 17 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.

Not only do developers need to provide a minimum allotment of parking spaces but also have to account for the size of the stalls that could range anywhere from 7 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 6 inches wide and 15 feet to 18 feet deep, according to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.

"If you look at all these requirements, this is a significant cost burden and allocation of space for a developer," O'Bryan said. 

O'Bryan said since a parking structure or subterranean garage is heavily tied into the high cost of today's construction climate, he has seen parking eat up as much as 50% of the total development costs. 

"Something that we have seen constantly being underestimated by developers is the cost of parking in Los Angeles," O'Bryan said. "LA's construction costs and areas of allocation dedicated to parking are off the charts related to other cities." 

O'Bryan said with today's advances in technology, there is no reason why developers and building owners shouldn't be exploring alternative methods or ways of parking tenant, employee or visitor vehicles. 

Indeed, in the past couple of years, developers have been exploring solutions to lessen the amount of parking space allocated to their developments. 

Parkplus parking system
Parkplus parking system

Angels Landing Partners, a JV of Claridge Properties, MacFarlane Partners and The Peebles Corp., is purposely underparking its Angels Landing 2M SF project site with only 465 parking spaces by using an efficient valet system and banking on a partnership with a ride-share company.

Developer Walter Marks said he plans to have some sort of robotic parking and valet system for his company's $400M, 42-story luxury multifamily skyscraper in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Markwood Enterprises installed a Tetris-style or puzzle shift system for two of its its multifamily developments.  

Double, triple and quadruple stackers have become the most popular parking system in recent years, O'Bryan said. The stacker system looks like a vertical grid that could allow more than one car in a single parking space. 

Parkplus said it has installed 50 of these systems just in Los Angeles in the last three years. More than 115 stacking with some puzzle shift systems — for all different asset classes — are in the city's pipeline waiting for approval, O'Bryan said.  

"Basically, a valet fills up these stacking systems with cars like a vending machine and at the end of the day they shuffle the cars out manually," he said. 

In one project, Parkplus was able to fit a stacking parking system for 132 cars in a 9K SF footprint.

O'Bryan said the goal with these parking innovations is that more cars fit in a smaller footprint, meaning more space is left over. The leftover space could be turned into more housing units or some other type of development.

"Parking is going for higher density and smarter use," O'Bryan said. "We're providing the solutions for a growing parking problem." 

The Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference (BMAC) is being held July 17 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.