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Strategic Parking Plan


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Strategic Parking Plan coverThe Strategic Parking Plan is a comprehensive, city-wide framework for coordinating parking related issues. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot effectively manage parking for Denver’s diverse neighborhoods and business areas. Therefore, the plan explores innovative strategies and recommends new ways to manage parking.

Although the plan does not provide recommendations for specific neighborhoods and locations, it does recommend new tools, policies and a process for involving community stakeholders in parking management at the local level.

Read the Denver Strategic Parking Plan (PDF)


About The Plan

Parking plays an important role in how we travel and design our cities. It affects our environmental quality and our economic development.  Parking is a valuable asset requiring careful management.  Ensuring a proper balance of supply and demand for different users can be a complex process. The Strategic Parking Plan provides an opportunity to proactively address parking as part of the city’s vision for transportation and development.

The Strategic Parking Plan is an opportunity to implement the goals of other city-wide plans including Blueprint Denver, Greenprint Denver, the Strategic Transportation Plan, and the Denver Comprehensive Plan. These goals include:

  • Promoting environmentally and economically sustainable development
  • Encouraging sustainable transportation choices
  • Creating healthy, livable neighborhoods and places
  • Ensuring housing affordability 

The Strategic Parking Plan recognizes that parking plays a significant role in shaping our city, our environmental quality, and our transportation choices. The plan offers parking tools and strategies that reflect these goals. The plan also presents an opportunity to coordinate outcomes with other city-wide and regional initiatives including the FasTracks transit system, transit-oriented development planning, the Denver Zoning Code and the Living Streets initiative.

parking study map example

This report summarizes the first steps toward the development of the Strategic Parking Plan, which was to collect parking data in some of the more popular neighborhoods throughout the city. The purpose of this data collection effort was to:

  • Quantify the magnitude and extent of the parking demand in the neighborhoods where such demand is greatest; and
  • Determine if there were common relationships between parking demand and land use mixes across the various neighborhood types.

To do so, city staff identified 11 urban neighborhoods and collected parking supply and parking occupancy data during the time periods when those neighborhoods experienced the highest parking demand. The City and County then compiled information from the assessor’s office on the exact mix of businesses and residences in each of the areas studied, which was used to develop relationships between parking demand and land uses in each area.  The analysis found that:

  • In all 11 study areas, at least 25% of the parking spaces were vacant
  • Lots that are reserved for particular land uses can be significantly underutilized
  • Providing parking based on the maximum demand ratio for each land use would over-supply any mixed use neighborhood.

The results of the study seems to suggest that a parking policy that focuses on sharing parking spaces between several land uses combined with on-street management strategies might better manage the overall parking supply.

It should be noted that the parking occupancy information was collected during one observation of the peak period and therefore represents a “snapshot” of parking conditions in each neighborhood.

See a Presentation summarizing the results and read the Phase I Study

parking lot seen from above Why does Parking Matter?

Parking impacts all of us, whether we drive, walk, bike, or ride the bus. Parking influences our decisions of how we travel and where we go. Parking shapes the physical form of business and shopping areas, streets and neighborhoods. Parking is often the largest single use of land in cities.  Parking is a valuable asset and always has an associated cost.

  • Parking is never free. Even when parking seems free, we pay for the costs of parking maintenance and real estate through higher prices, housing costs and rents. On-street parking is a valuable city asset that we all pay to provide and maintain through our tax dollars.  For these reasons, we often don’t realize we are paying for seemingly free parking.  Moreover, we pay those costs whether we drive or get to our destination some other way.
  • Parking affects the way we view our city. Areas with too much parking – especially blocks and blocks of parking lots – can be an eyesore, empty and unsafe. In other areas, it can seem difficult to find a parking space even when there are plenty of vacant spaces.
  • Parking affects our environment. In the summer, you may notice how large parking lots contribute to the city’s “heat island,” making it hotter when the asphalt absorbs the sunlight. When the ground is covered with asphalt or concrete for parking, it can’t absorb rainwater causing flooding and pollution of our rivers and streams. Also, too much parking can encourage people to drive by making an area unpleasant to walk and hard to reach on public transportation.  This helps contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution.

Did you Know?

  • Parking adds to the overall percentage of a city’s land that is dedicated strictly to automobiles and in some cities takes up more land area than all other land uses combined. (Source: Strategic Transportation Plan page 12)
  • It is estimated that, under current Denver regulations, almost 50 percent more permits are issued to residents than there are spaces available on the street in residential parking permit areas. (Source: City and County of Denver)
  • By converting parallel parking to angled parking on S. Gaylord Street in Denver, the amount of on-street parking increased by 55%.  (Source: City and County of Denver)
  • In order to create pedestrian-friendly places that help reduce the number and length of trips made in a car, Blueprint Denver recommends eliminating auto-oriented zoning standards in areas of change.  It also recommends reducing the land used for parking with shared parking and structured parking. (Blueprint Denver, pages 20-23)   
  • Purdue University researchers surveyed the total area devoted to parking in a midsize Midwestern county and found that parking spaces outnumbered resident drivers 3-to-1 and outnumbered resident families 11-to-1. The researchers found the total parking area to be larger than 1,000 football fields, or covering more than two square miles. (Source: Purdue University Parking Study


Please call 311 to contact Curbside & Parking for additional information on parking studies or to request that an inventory be conducted.