Planning »

Perfect Fit Parking: How Much is Residential Parking Actually Being Used?

February 24, 2017 – 4:09 pm |

In communities across Metro Boston, parking is a point of contention for initiatives ranging from zoning to housing projects: everyone needs more of it. However, there’s little hard data about how many off-street spaces are …

Read the full story »

Housing, Planning, Transportation »

Perfect Fit Parking: How Much is Residential Parking Actually Being Used?

February 24, 2017 – 4:09 pm |

In communities across Metro Boston, parking is a point of contention for initiatives ranging from zoning to housing projects: everyone needs more of it. However, there’s little hard data about how many off-street spaces are available in the region and what the actual demand for residential parking is. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s new initiative, “Perfect Fit Parking,” aims to equip local planners with this information so they can make informed decisions about parking plans and policies.

National trends indicate that more urban residents are forgoing vehicle ownership in favor of more sustainable practices, but parking requirements have generally stayed the same.

During Phase I of this effort, MAPC examined on-site parking counts at 80 sites in five municipalities – Arlington, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, and Melrose. Counts were conducted at the anticipated peak occupancy for residential parking – between midnight and 4 a.m. on weeknights. Of the 80 properties surveyed, six were in Arlington, 20 in Chelsea, 10 in Everett, 25 in Malden, and 19 in Melrose.


These five municipalities were selected because of their location in the Inner Core and variety of demographics and transit accessibility. Chelsea, Everett, and Malden are Metropolitan Core Communities, meaning they are densely populated and housing ranges from triple-deckers to large multifamily developments. In contrast, Arlington and Melrose are Streetcar Suburbs – housing is a mix of single family homes, two-four family houses, and mid-size multifamily homes.

Across all developments surveyed, parking was supplied at an average of 1.15 parking spaces per residential unit – but only .85 spaces were used.

During the survey, only seven of the 80 observed parking lots were fully occupied – meaning 91 percent of the properties surveyed had vacant parking spaces. Only 12 of the properties had a parking utilization rate in MAPC’s recommended range, 90 to 100 percent.

Overall, the parking utilization rate was 74 percent across all properties – resulting in 1,200 vacant parking spaces across the 80 properties.

Parking Patterns

This average was fairly consistent across the five communities: the average utilization rate ranged from 67 percent in Malden to 81 percent in Melrose.


MAPC’s analysis of these results identified what characteristics influence the amount of parking demanded per unit, finding that parking supply per unit and job accessibility were the two most significant factors associated with parking demand.

supply v demand


transit v demand

These findings demonstrate that a data-driven approach to parking requirements, rather than a one-size fits all approach, would better shape parking patterns and influence policy.

In the five communities surveyed, there was a total of 356,100 square feet of empty space – adding up to almost $12,000,000 in unnecessary construction. This unused area could instead be used to build 427 two-bedroom housing units or eight acres of parks.


MAPC is now expanding this project and conducting similar studies in Cambridge, Boston, and other communities in the Inner Core. These findings will ultimately contribute to an online tool communities and planners can use to better align their parking policies with real demand.

For more information and to read the Phase 1 report, please visit the website here:

Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative: Sometimes, the Answer is Hidden in Plain Sight

January 26, 2017 – 12:06 pm |

Typically, low income households pay a higher percentage of income for electricity than those in other income brackets. In Boston, for example, median-income households spend 2.8 percent of their total income on electricity on average, …

MAPC’s Metro Mayors Coalition Receives Shannon Grant to Combat Youth and Gang Violence

January 11, 2017 – 2:30 pm |

MAPC’s Metro Mayors Coalition has received the Senator Charles E. Shannon Jr. Grant to prevent youth and gang violence for the 11th consecutive year. On Tuesday, Jan. 10, in a ceremony at the grand staircase …

Life Moves Pretty Fast, But Lowering Speed Limits Can Save Lives

January 5, 2017 – 2:45 pm |

“Life moves pretty fast,” goes the quote from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” “If you don’t slow down and look around, you might miss it.” What Ferris doesn’t say, though, is that if you slow down, …

Who Benefits (and Who Can Be Harmed) as Neighborhoods Change?

December 6, 2016 – 2:30 pm |

Gentrification changes neighborhoods. It raises property values and brings new investments in parks and public spaces, streetscapes, and services. These are changes that can improve economic and social well-being. Unfortunately, changes like these can also …

How Municipalities Are Saving Money and Energy through MAPC’s Peak Demand Notification Program

October 24, 2016 – 1:05 pm |

For most of us, paying for electricity means paying for what we use. Municipalities do that, too, but they also have to pay something called a capacity charge for their large accounts. This is a …

8th Annual Shannon Grant Basketball Tournament

September 13, 2016 – 1:22 pm |

On August 6th, the communities involved in the Metro Mayors Shannon Grant Community Safety Initiative came together for the 8th Annual Metro Mayors Basketball Tournament, organized by MAPC.

The tournament was held at Trum Field in …

New App Helps Inner Core Residents Keep Cool!

August 11, 2016 – 1:36 pm |

Keep Cool this summer!

In partnership with the Metro Mayor’s Coalition, MAPC’s Digital Services has launched a digital initiative on climate change and heat safety called “Keep Cool.” Residents across the 14 Metro Mayors communities can …

Municipal Light Departments in Massachusetts: What are they and why should you care?

August 3, 2016 – 9:12 am |

Quick Link: Municipal Light Plants in Massachusetts: Spotlight on Clean Energy Initiatives
For most communities in Massachusetts, electricity is provided by an Investor Owned Utility (IOU) such as National Grid, or Eversource. For some, though, electric …

Rapid Health Impact Assessments

July 26, 2016 – 3:07 pm |

MAPC’s Public Health Department has been conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) for the past five years. Working with partners like the MA Department of Public Health and Health Resources in Action, MAPC has explored multiple …

MAPC Partners with Tufts University on Food Access Mapping

May 25, 2016 – 4:36 pm |

Staff from MAPC’s Public Health and Data Services departments partnered with students from Tufts University this spring to analyze access to healthy food across Massachusetts. Food access is a fundamental element to healthy neighborhoods. Where …