Donald Shoup

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Donald Curran Shoup (born August 24, 1938)[1] is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and widely-regarded expert in the economics and availability of parking. His 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking (ISBN 978-1-884829-98-7) identifies the negative repercussions of off-street parking requirements.[2]

Shoup received his undergraduate degree from Yale College in electrical engineering and his doctorate from Yale University in economics.[3] After graduation he headed west, assuming a post as research economist at UCLA's Institute for Government and Public Affairs.[4] After a four-year stint as a professor at the University of Michigan, Shoup returned to UCLA as an Associate Professor of Urban Planning in 1974, and later was awarded a full professorship in 1980.[4]


Originally focused on public finance and land value theory, Shoup was inspired by a master's thesis that found that Los Angeles County employees were almost twice as likely to drive alone than federal employees in the Los Angeles Civic Center due to the availability of free parking.[5] He has extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment. His research on employer-paid parking led to the passage of California’s parking cash-out law, and to changes in the Internal Revenue Code to encourage parking cash out. His research on municipal parking policies has led cities to charge fair market prices for curb parking and to dedicate the resulting meter revenue to finance added public services in the metered districts.

Shoup popularized the theory that an 85% occupancy rate of on-street parking spaces would be the most efficient use of public parking.[6] When cars at any given destination in a city (a block or group of blocks) occupy more than 85% of on-street parking spaces, then cars arriving at that destination are forced to circle the block for a few minutes in order to find an unoccupied parking space. This small search time per car creates a surprisingly large amount of traffic congestion, because typically, many cars are searching for parking simultaneously during peak driving times. This wastes time and fuel and increases air pollution. Shoup calls the phenomenon of excess driving as a result of under-priced parking as "cruising for parking".

Shoup's attempts to turn theory into practice have, on occasion lead to controversy.[7]

Shoup is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and has served as Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. He has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Hawaii, Cambridge University and the World Bank [4]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (2005-03-27). "No Parking. You're Welcome.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  3. ^ UCLA faculty biography
  4. ^ a b c Shoup curriculum vitae
  5. ^
  6. ^ Gordon, Rachel (2010-07-27). "High-tech parking meters premiere in S.F.". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  7. ^ Proposed parking fees find few fans By Chet Barfield, San diego Tribune

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