‘Gimme Shelter’: How parking lots explain California’s housing crisis

A man exits the parking lot at 1637 North Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood on January 31, 2018.
A parking lot in Hollywood in 2018.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The cost of constructing low-income housing in California is the highest in the nation, with some apartment buildings totaling more than $1 million per unit to build.

One of the reasons? It’s expensive to set aside land for parking lots and build underground garages. On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we talk about a forthcoming state law, Assembly Bill 2097, that eliminates minimum parking requirements for new housing near mass transit. The hope, supporters of the law say, is that the policy will spur more development at lower cost while also helping California meet its climate change goals.

Our guest is Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA and author of the book, “The High Cost of Free Parking.” Shoup is considered the preeminent scholar on parking in the United States and his work laid the foundation for the new law.


Gimme Shelter,” a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Manuela Tobías, housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud and Google Podcasts.