Chart of the Day: Downtown Saint Paul Parking Supply

Here’s a chart from the initial results of the downtown Saint Paul parking study, which was released to the public this week. It’s the total amount of parking in downtown Saint Paul, on- and off-street spaces.


Short version: there is a lot of parking in downtown Saint Paul. Most of it is in ramps and lots. Our perception of how much parking exists and the reality of how much parking exists are often quite different. There are lots of interesting psychology and economic reasons behind that…

[See the whole .pdf here; page through to the second part of the document:]

I’ll be putting a lot more charts from the study up on the site next week, so stay tuned for more!

Note: this is just the first phase of the study, which is attempting to gather data. The consultants hired for the project (experts in parking planning) are coming back to make recommendations later this month.  


19 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Downtown Saint Paul Parking Supply

  1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker

    Enough parking in downtown to accommodate one car for every man, woman, and child attending simultaneous sell-out Wild and Saints games, with room (sell-out Prairie Home Companion?) to spare.

    Yeah, I’m never going to believe someone who says they had difficulty parking in downtown.

  2. Jim

    Is the purpose of this report just to prove there’s lots of parking in downtown? Because I think everyone already knew that. People know there are plenty of parking ramps and lots. But few prefer them over a street space.

    I fear this report is going to be a big waste of time.

    1. Matty LangMatty Lang

      That may be true, but as The Rolling Stones pointed out, you can’t always get what you want. I’d like all car and truck traffic to be buried underneath Snelling Avenue, but I’m not expecting that.

      Likewise, people shouldn’t expect to have an on street parking space for their car everywhere and all of the time.

      1. Jim

        Well I suppose if even just one car crazy suburbanite who drives to Candyland parks in a ramp instead of on the street the report will have succeeded. LOL.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          I don’t care where they park, but if a few more bike lanes can be added because people aren’t freaking out over losing a few parking spots, the report will have succeeded.

    2. Mike SonnMike Sonn

      Now we have numbers, this is HUGE. Also, now the city can take steps to properly price on-street and off-street parking, even break it down by time of day and occupancy a la SFPark.

      I think this is a great study and am really excited to see the whole thing.

      And as for people “knowing” – they may “know” but don’t really acknowledge. “I can’t find parking downtown! The bike loop with ruin everything! No one goes downtown, there’s no parking!” is heard often, but now we can calming point to a report with numbers and graphs and maps and say “no, you are incorrect. very very incorrect.”

      1. Jim

        Or they will say, look at all the on street parking we lost because of the light rail, the bike loop, the sidewalk extension, now you want to take more!! Nooooooooooo.

        Brace yourselves for another battle in the never ending parking war.

        1. Matty LangMatty Lang

          Yes, I do expect a small group of people will be fear-mongered into going full Costanza over this. Just like when the owner of the funeral home at Snelling and Charles said the new median would put him out of business.

          This guy went around to the other businesses in the area promising them the median would mean their certain demise just like that guy downtown with the mustache is doing regarding the bike loop. Of course the funeral home, the drum shop, and the Holiday gas station are all still in business at the same locations just like Candyland will be.

          1. Jim

            I once witnessed a car passenger scream at two cyclists at Kellogg and Jackson. The passenger tried to tell them to get off the road. One of the cyclist yelled back they were in a bike lane. As a cyclist myself, I’m sick and tired of being second class to motorists. It’s high time cyclists get their own dedicated space. Not shared space as Hosko suggests. The Candylands will survive the loss of a few spaces. It’s the same old knee jerk reaction we hear all the time.

          2. Joseph TottenJoseph Totten

            Candyland is 1) an overused store argument and 2) Candyland is a business based off of passing trips, it’s not bringing any trips to downtown just to go to Candyland. I have yet to hear my roommate (who adores the store beyond any other I have witnessed) say “Let’s go to Downtown Saint Paul, I ran out of Chocolate Covered Oreos a WEEK ago!” Instead, a group of us will go ice skating, and on the way back to the car, visit Candyland, we will go to Crashed Ice and on the way there, visit Candyland, she will be downtown for happy hour and stop by Candyland on the way to the bus stop, I will go to grab my Saint Paul flag and get a beer in downtown, and I will stop by Candyland. Candyland has NOT created trips that wouldn’t have existed without it, if you’re parking in one space, doing an activity, walking back, driving to another space, doing an activity, walking back then driving to Candyland, you either are unable to walk between errands (a serious concern, but one that cannot be overcome) or you are straight up lazy.

            Candyland will survive, because it’s drawing people in as an added bonus to the rest of Downtown’s activities. I have yet to visit Candyland when I wasn’t already in Downtown Saint Paul, and if you are then I applaud your commitment to your candy, and your local businesses, but I doubt that many share your passion.

    3. Jim Ivey

      The report has far more than just an inventory of spaces. Among other things, it analyzes actual availability throughout the day and week for every part of downtown, giving a more accurate picture of when those spots are in use, and where there might be surplus or shortages. It also attempts to correctly identify spaces that are leased-out, and therefore aren’t currently “available” as part of the short-term public parking supply. It even projects upcoming changes to the supply, due to new construction over the next few years that will potentially add or remove on-street and off-street parking.

      I think the report will actually supply a lot of interesting data, given the relatively small amount of money that was spent on it. With a large set of possible approaches to addressing perceived parking problems in downtown, the report will hopefully allow us to more realistically look at those options and evaluate which would be the best short-term tweaks and long-term revisions to the current system. Ideally I’d like to see one of those options be an investment in systems that would allow us to more accurately monitor parking inventory, availability and pricing in the future, so that we could more closely monitor the outcomes of the steps we take.

  3. Eric SaathoffEric S

    While I am totally in support of the loop, I think this picture is incomplete without pairing it with pricing information. I really don’t look at some of these off-street ramps as realistic options considering the outrageous prices. For Candyland? I agree that the ramp at its current price makes no sense. This data is not compelling without a plan to make it work.

    1. Mike SonnMike Sonn

      Pricing needs to be addressed and I think it will. Right now, on street is cheaper (or free) while ramps are often pricey and never free.

      It should be the reverse, but ramps are expensive to build.

  4. Joseph TottenJoseph Totten

    Yes, but isn’t the point of Downtown not to run a single errand? The density of stores and services allow you to take care of several at once. I don’t think we’re going to see people coming Downtown to buy stamps, and only stamps. Or to buy candy, and only candy. Or to visit the dentist! If I’m running one item to (or from) downtown, I use the USPS. If I’m meeting friends for a beer, I’m not going to drink and drive. If I’m going to the haberdashery, I will make an event out of it and do something else while I’m down there. This argument is like saying “People don’t go to the Mall of America for McDonald’s anymore!” They never did, and if they did, it was extremely inefficient.

  5. Matty LangMatty Lang

    Regarding the Loop, yes by all means, let’s keep the on street parking and take a traffic lane for the protected bike lanes instead. I can put my support behind that.

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