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How taxing Atlanta's absurd amount of parking spaces could make the city better

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Adviser: Building off models in other cities, Atlanta could boost transportation, affordable housing initiatives through similar scheme

A photo of an ugly parking garage in downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta’s got a parking problem.
Curbed Atlanta

If there was any doubt that Atlanta is a city built for cars, all one needs to do is count the parking spaces.

It turns out, there are nine parking spaces in the city for every car.

With all that land devoted to parking, especially valuable land in the center of the city, there has to be a way to incentivize good development while encouraging more density and transit—and ultimately boosting property values. Right?

According to a post on StreetsBlog, a former policy adviser to Mayor Kasim Reed, Tom Weyandt, recently recommended following a method in other major cities by turning large parking lots into valuable resource: taxation.

The basic gist is that cities tax parking lots based on a percentage of their gross revenue. By doing this, the cities encourage higher use of the properties and bring in more property taxes that ultimately allow for better urban infrastructure. Of course, the developed parking lots have the added benefit of making the city a much more desirable place to be.

Weyandt posited that the scheme could secure some $30 million every year, diverting the funds to help boost affordable housing and transportation.

With $15 million for affordable housing, and another $15 million for subsidizing MARTA trips in the city, the quality of life can be increased for many who live in Atlanta, Weyandt argues.

For a city that grapples with paying for parking, the concept may be difficult to stomach. But it's hard to argue that in a future with more robust transit options, more affordable housing, and less parking lots, we’d all be better off.