Developers wasting land

Updated: 2011-08-22 07:39

(China Daily)

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Comment on "Space race too costly for car owners" (China Daily, Aug 2)

Developers treat a parking space as a resource that they can play around with to their advantage. In most cases, underground parking spaces in buildings are already factored into the construction cost and paid for by property buyers.

But developers use parking spaces for their own benefit and at zero cost. In a sellers' market (mostly in second- and third-tier cities) they can sell them at 100 percent profit. In a buyers' market (such as Shanghai) they offer them at a "discount" to lure people without lowering prices that would eat into their profits.

But now that people have realized that parking is a resource that costs money, developers will start increasing the number of parking lots per building to maximize profits. As a result, in a few years, there will be excess parking space in new property developments. And since cities will continue to be car-centric, developers will be wasting precious land by creating extra parking spaces.

Government intervention in setting maximum prices for parking spaces, depending on the area and value of the property, will only have an indirect effect, because developers can still play around by making the sale of parking space along with an apartment mandatory or simply making a business out of the maximum parking fee set by the government and determined by the construction cost. This again will lead to creation of excess parking space.

If the government wants to set a new urban standard to reduce the number of cars on the roads, it should set a maximum limit for parking spaces for new constructions. Setting a limit is becoming common in many European cities, where people are increasingly using public transport or bicycles for commuting. This will greatly help reduce pollution and lessen our dependence on oil.

Of course, parking spaces will become more expensive, but that would be no different from rising housing prices. The government should control the capacity and let the market decide the price.

Ruud van Winden, via e-mail

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(China Daily 08/22/2011 page9)