Parking by the bay: The supply and implications of parking infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay Area

Rui Li, Alysha Helmrich, Mikhail Chester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most progressive transportation regions in the deployment of high-capacity transit and the use of policies to encourage active transportation. Yet, there remains a dearth of knowledge on the abundance and location of parking infrastructure. The extent and location of parking supply, including on-street and off-street spaces, are estimated for the nine-county Bay Area by creating a federated database that joins land use, transportation, parcel, building, and parking code layers to estimate the number and characteristics of parking spaces at the census block scale. This bottom-up parking space inventory results in an estimated 15 million parking spaces in the region: 8.6 million on-street and 6.4 million off-street. Residential parking dominates the share of supply at 70%, followed by commercial at 9.4%. Space density is greatest in downtown San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose—largely attributed to high-rise structures. On-street parking is dominant in the North Bay, commanding 78% of total parking in Napa, 75% in Solano, 68% in Sonoma, and 67% in Marin County. Parking area constitutes 7.9% of the total incorporated area. Notably, when compared to other southwest cities (Phoenix Metropolitan Area and Los Angeles County), the Bay Area parking supply appears better utilized considering spaces per person, per car, and per job. The density and quantity of parking spaces in the Bay Area are critical insights toward developing targeted policies that encourage active mobility and support affordable housing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-545
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Transport and Land Use
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • automobility
  • infrastructure
  • parking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Urban Studies


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