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Rules for Tokyo parking lots to ease as car ownership falls

/ 02:20 PM December 23, 2019

TOKYO — The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to ease the standards for installing parking lots in commercial facilities, office buildings and condominiums in central Tokyo, as the demand for parking lots is expected to decline due to a downward trend in privately owned cars.

The move aims to reinvigorate urban areas by making effective use of vacant spaces. The metropolitan government plans to revise the ordinance as early as next fiscal year, taking into consideration the wishes of local municipalities and developers.

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“It is inefficient to make parking spaces that won’t be used,” an official of a major developer in Tokyo lamented.
Prefectural and other local governments have ordinances that specify a certain number of parking spaces to be developed along with large-scale facilities.

For example, in the 23 wards of Tokyo, an office building with a floor space of more than 1,500 square meters is required to have parking for one car per every 300 square meters, while a condominium building with a floor space of more than 2,000 square meters is required to have parking for one car per every 350 square meters.

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Such ordinances were designed to curb an increase in on-street parking due to a shortage of parking lots. But, in recent years, many developers have complained that “the standards have become outdated, especially in urban areas.”

Behind this trend is an increase in the number of aged people giving up their driver’s licenses, younger people losing interest in driving due to changes in their lifestyles, and redevelopment projects in urban areas that have greatly improved public transportation networks.

In many rural areas in Japan, there is still a need for privately owned cars, because it has become difficult to maintain public transportation routes due to a declining population. However, Tokyo is exceptional because its population keeps increasing.

The central government’s Transportation Policy Council has proposed six railway projects, including an extension of the Yurakucho subway line. In addition, the metropolitan government is considering establishing a new subway line.

According to a survey conducted by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in fiscal 2017, the number of parking spaces in Tokyo’s 23 wards increased by 24% over the past 10 years, while the number of cars registered in the wards decreased by 9%. This compares to a 30% increase in the number of cars nationwide over the past 25 years. The supply and demand balance of parking spaces in Tokyo is expected to widen further in the future due to enhancements to public transportation.

The metropolitan ordinance was revised in 2014 to relax the standards, however, some parking lots in office buildings and condominiums remain unfilled.

“There are many condominiums and apartment buildings in Tokyo. Residents associations of condominiums and other organizations also want the standards eased, because they feel burdened by the cost of maintaining mechanical type parking spaces,” a senior metropolitan government official said.

Some developers have proposed a method of considering the standard of parking installation not by building but by a whole area, and are waiting for the outcome of the metropolitan government’s discussion. An official of one of the developers said, “If this method is realized, the vacant space can be used for stores and facilities for disaster measures.”

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TAGS: Asia, Business, Car Ownership, Japan, Tokyo Parking Lots
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