Study finds thousands of empty parking spaces downtown

A parking meter in downtown Austin. (KXAN Photo/Kevin Schwaller)
A parking meter in downtown Austin. (KXAN Photo/Kevin Schwaller)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you ever drive around downtown and can’t find a place to park, it might seem strange that a new study from the Downtown Austin Alliance found thousands of spaces sit empty every day.

“People are complaining that they can never find a parking space and yet at the same time, the data is clear that even at peak there are 20,000 empty parking spaces downtown,” said Jeff Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, which is working with the Downtown Austin Alliance to study parking in the city.

Tumlin says a major issue is the management of those spaces.

“Our task here is to figure out how do we help motorists find those empty parking spaces? How do we help private property owners to strike deals with each other,” Tumlin said.

He gave an example of an office building that might have 500 empty parking spaces at night possibly leasing the spaces to a nearby restaurant during those times.

The study also found that the cost of paying a ticket is low compared to alternatives such as garage parking, which makes street parking an attractive option for some people.

“It’s a lot cheaper to get one ticket then to pay every single day,” a driver told KXAN.

The consultants also believe on-street parking is under-priced, meaning those spots fill up more quickly, according to the DAA. Still, on-street parking makes up only nine percent of the total parking supply.

At this stage, the study is highlighting issues. The Downtown Austin Alliance plans to work on solutions through Spring of next year. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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