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Transportation Trends Should Have You Rethinking Renter Parking

Industry Insights

Disruption has come to claim your properties’ parking spaces. How are you responding?

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Reverberations from the ride-hailing revolution are captured in a new report from the National Apartment Association (NAA), which signals that it’s time for property developers, owners and managers to think differently about renters and their transportation needs. In fact, parking ratios in newly constructed buildings are at the lowest rate since the 1960s, reflecting recent urban revival, demographic shifts, millennial preferences, changes in car ownership rates, and the renewed importance of walkability. The race to attract renters now includes Multifamily companies offering new incentives and transportation amenities to win in today’s rental markets.



The NAA Parking Report: Key Takeaways



Public Transit

Trends highlighted in the report are likely to continue in the coming decades, propelling alternatives to driving and parking. For instance, the percentage of apartment residents 34 and under who have cars shrank from 33.7% in 2009 to 30.7% in 2016. A survey by CityLab found that millennials are more likely to seek out public transportation than baby boomers, and Business Insider found that millennials in San Francisco spend an average of $100 a month on Uber and Lyft.

All of this points to parking being a non-priority for almost a third of millennial renters — and means your available parking spaces might not be the competitive draw they once were. A variety of trends called out by The Transformation of Parking report serve as supporting evidence for a nationwide parking shift.

  • Green Street Advisors predicts that parking needs will be reduced by half over the next 30 years. If reality plays out to this projection, about 75 billion square feet of parking space will be left unused.
  • RethinkX estimates the number of vehicle owners in the United States will drop by more than 200 million by 2030.
  • Gensler, one of the largest architecture firms in the country, is suggesting that clients who build new parking lots or garages should make them easily convertible to other kinds of spaces. They estimate the footprint of above and below ground parking will drop 25% in the coming decades, and that surface parking may disappear entirely.

The bottom line is: to attract the modern renter, Multifamily owners and operators need to provide access and support for multiple modes of transit. But how?



Meeting the Transit Needs of the Modern Renter


By supporting residents’ ability to use the kinds of transportation they prefer, you immediately improve your utility and value to those residents. Rideshare credits, real-time public transit displays, and bike and scooter storage are all poised to overshadow dedicated parking as an amenity for multifamily units.

Transit Screen

Live public transit updates in your lobby TransitScreen is a real-time service that lists and updates public transit routes and arrival times live on a display, enabling residents to estimate their ETAs for work or school at a glance. The mobile version of the service makes transit information available on residents’ smartphones at all times. Residents who drive benefit from live traffic and road closure notices.

Recognizing that residents are looking for places to live that offer access to carless transportation, TransitScreen introduced MobilityScore — a tool that calculates how accessible your property is to public transit, ride-hailing, ridesharing, and bike sharing opportunities. Measures like MobilityScore will only become more prevalent in renters’ buying decisions.

Live public transit updates in your lobby

TransitScreen is a real-time service that lists and updates public transit routes and arrival times live on a display, enabling residents to estimate their ETAs for work or school at a glance. The mobile version of the service makes transit information available on residents’ smartphones at all times. Residents who drive benefit from live traffic and road closure notices.

Recognizing that residents are looking for places to live that offer access to carless transportation, TransitScreen introduced MobilityScore — a tool that calculates how accessible your property is to public transit, ride-hailing, ridesharing, and bike sharing opportunities. Measures like MobilityScore will only become more prevalent in renters’ buying decisions.

Transit Screen

Ridesharing

Rideshare credits

Ridesharing incentives are one of most innovative amenities at work in modern multifamily. Parkmerced, one of the largest neighborhoods of apartment blocks west of the Mississippi has implemented a Car-Free Living program that gives participating residents a $100 monthly transportation credit per apartment to use with Getaround, Clipper and Uber. Plus, “any resident can also catch a ride in an UberPool from Parkmerced to nearby transit stations for a flat rate of $5.”

Such an arrangement adds utility and value for residents who may not consider living in an apartment community otherwise, especially if the closest grocery store is miles away. And properties that lack parking spaces but offer transportation credits can put themselves on a level playing field in the market. If you’re able to decrease vacancy rates and increase income by providing these credits, you’ll quickly make up for the cost of a car-free living program like Parkmerced’s.

Ridesharing

Rideshare credits

Ridesharing incentives are one of most innovative amenities at work in modern multifamily. Parkmerced, one of the largest neighborhoods of apartment blocks west of the Mississippi has implemented a Car-Free Living program that gives participating residents a $100 monthly transportation credit per apartment to use with Getaround, Clipper and Uber. Plus, “any resident can also catch a ride in an UberPool from Parkmerced to nearby transit stations for a flat rate of $5.”

Such an arrangement adds utility and value for residents who may not consider living in an apartment community otherwise, especially if the closest grocery store is miles away. And properties that lack parking spaces but offer transportation credits can put themselves on a level playing field in the market. If you’re able to decrease vacancy rates and increase income by providing these credits, you’ll quickly make up for the cost of a car-free living program like Parkmerced’s.

Bike Rack

Storage for bikes and scooters

Offering room and storage for bicycles and other types of human-powered transportation are another way to extend the range of car-free residents — and give them the flexibility to choose their mode of transportation based on preference. Besides being an increasingly popular and essential amenity, these spaces help promote the more health-conscious lifestyle today’s renters prioritize.

Recent initiatives by Lyft and Uber to join the market of human-powered ridesharing (bikes and scooters) provide an additional option for residents who may not have space for a bicycle of their own, or may not want to keep up with the maintenance. They’re also less expensive than traditional ridesharing. So whether you operate in high-density areas where free parking spots can be scarce, or in less concentrated areas where residents want a practical alternative to driving everywhere, providing storage for bikes, scooters and more can help you draw renters in.



Storage for bikes and scooters

Offering room and storage for bicycles and other types of human-powered transportation are another way to extend the range of car-free residents — and give them the flexibility to choose their mode of transportation based on preference. Besides being an increasingly popular and essential amenity, these spaces help promote the more health-conscious lifestyle today’s renters prioritize.

Recent initiatives by Lyft and Uber to join the market of human-powered ridesharing (bikes and scooters) provide an additional option for residents who may not have space for a bicycle of their own, or may not want to keep up with the maintenance. They’re also less expensive than traditional ridesharing. So whether you operate in high-density areas where free parking spots can be scarce, or in less concentrated areas where residents want a practical alternative to driving everywhere, providing storage for bikes, scooters and more can help you draw renters in.



Bike Rack



Your walkability score

Key pieces of data like your properties’ Walk Score can help you determine which transportation amenities and incentives would be most valuable and attractive to residents in each specific market. The Walk Score measurement analyzes walking routes from a property to nearby amenities, awarding maximum points for amenities within a 5 minute walk and assigning fewer points as the distance between your property and neighborhood amenities grows. Interestingly, Walk Score also takes into account population density and road metrics, such as intersection density and block length to determine a score. Walk Score’s tools also include Transit and Bike Scores, so you can learn how to precisely meet the needs of your market(s) — whether through bike storage, ridesharing credits, or a TransitScreen setup — without spending money on services your residents aren’t likely to use.



Inspecting for Safety & Security in the Modern Transportation Environment

Parking Security

Without careful monitoring of your parking areas, rideshare pickup zones, and bike storage areas, your legal liability can skyrocket. So it’s critical to regularly document conditions in these areas and get real-time visibility that allows you to address time-sensitive issues such as a nonfunctional security camera. San Francisco lawyer Matthew Whatley, who represents a number of property owners shares that “Plaintiffs show up with photos of their injuries and there isn’t a lot that defendants can offer in response unless they happen to have security camera footage. That’s why settlements are almost automatic – even when the owner isn’t at fault.”

Parking Security



Without careful monitoring of your parking areas, rideshare pickup zones, and bike storage areas, your legal liability can skyrocket. So it’s critical to regularly document conditions in these areas and get real-time visibility that allows you to address time-sensitive issues such as a nonfunctional security camera or broken lighting. San Francisco lawyer Matthew Whatley, who represents a number of property owners shares that “Plaintiffs show up with photos of their injuries and there isn’t a lot that defendants can offer in response unless they happen to have security camera footage. That’s why settlements are almost automatic – even when the owner isn’t at fault.”



A more streamlined, effective, and efficient inspection workflow on a mobile system like HappyCo can quickly alert management to broken security cameras or unfinished snow removal logs — a process that gets delayed when managers employ pen-and-paper inspections. Real-time operations can give you the protection of rock-solid records and a reliable, accessible system of record to disprove negligence claims if an incident should occur in your parking areas. Mobile inspections can also require personnel to inspect critical items that might otherwise get skipped on paper. Property managers who rely on pen-and-paper inspections are, unfortunately, putting themselves at a disadvantage.

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“Sometimes you come in to look at a camera feed and you realize your hard drive has been down for a little bit. Now, with HappyCo, we go through a process; it’s a simple process but it’s something that’s easy to forget. And the Happy App is good about reminding me of that.”

Zach Moreland
Property Manager, Park Edge Apartments

Lenexa, Kansas

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It seems no industry is insulated from technology-wrought disruption, and this includes the world of property operations. Multifamily companies that have relied on pen-and-paper inspections for decades are now employing mobile inspections to ensure compliance, safety and security portfolio-wide, and give residents the best possible living experience.

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Park your properties at the forefront of disruption.

Prevent negligence, maintain security and ensure quality with HappyCo real-time property operations.


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About the author

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Ben Chadwell
Marketing Manager

Ben hails from the gentle, rolling hills of Pennsylvania, where he achieved a BA in a degree program of his own design - a combo of Conservation Biology, Spanish and International Business - at West Chester University. He brings his background in nonprofit development and writing to the transformative work of HappyCo and especially enjoys crafting thought leadership pieces. When he isn’t creating content and collateral, Ben delights in reading, doing improv theatre and blues dancing.

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