Case Studies - Smart Parking

View case studies conducted on the Smart Parking module.

Marlborough, Massachusetts: Suburban Case Study

Marlborough is a medium-sized city located near the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 495. To accommodate its workforce and residential parking needs, Marlborough has enacted three zoning measures that promote a smart parking approach. The city has taken steps to decrease the oversupply of parking through provisions for shared parking, compact car spaces, and temporary reserve parking.

Marlborough City Center
Marlborough City Center

How Smart Parking Works in Marlborough

Marlborough's shared parking provision has been primarily used within the mixed-use center and is focused on taking advantage of the differing parking needs among its residential and commercial uses.  As Marlborough's parking needs grew, the city enacted a provision for shared parking to relieve the pressure on developers to account for 100% of their parking requirements in an already limited environment.

  • The shared parking regulation has been effective in balancing the needs of new developments with existing businesses. Of note, Marlborough has encountered some conflicts in allowing residential parking to exist within the downtown structured facilities:
    • businesses that want their parking to be as close as possible to their buildings are concerned with long-term residential parking taking up the nearby spaces.
    • the Marlborough public works department requires that all parking lots be unoccupied overnight for purposes of snow removal, creating an obvious conflict with the needs of residential parking.

A lasting solution to this conflict has yet to be determined.

  •  Compact car spaces is the second smart parking approach used in Marlborough. The compact car regulation is straightforward in its approach as it allows up to 33% of a site's required parking spaces to be reduced by 1 foot in width and 2 feet in length. This  reduces the footprint needed to hold the same amount of cars.
  • The temporary reserve parking regulation in Marlborough is primarily used within industrial park areas where the demand for parking on a daily basis falls significantly short of the required number of spaces. However, to accommodate increased parking demand on select occasions, it is important to provide a reserve supply of parking that can be left in a grassy or earthen state. This regulation allows developers to reduce the amount of on-site paved parking spaces, yet does not limit the total number of space available for temporary use. This helps reduce the City's total impervious surface coverage, thus improving on-site stormwater retention and surface water quality.

Middleborough, Massachusetts: Suburban Case Study

Middleborough is a small town that boasts a handful of two to three-story commercial buildings within its town center. In an effort to restore economic activity to its downtown area, the city changed its zoning to allow residential uses on the upper floors of its multi-story commercial buildings. After implementing this zoning change, the town realized that its existing commercial lots could not handle the additional on-site parking demand. The focus of Middleborough's smart parking policy has therefore been to increase the flexibility of on-site requirements for residential parking within the town center.

Middleborough Town Center
Middleborough Town Center

How Smart Parking Works in Middleborough

To address the lack of available on-site parking for its new residential uses, the city amended its zoning to increase flexibility for residential parking to be located in off-site facilities. The amendment stipulates that residential uses on the second and third stories of downtown buildings may have their parking requirements met through off-site facilities no more the ¼ mile away. Thus far, all the off-site parking facilities used within this zoning amendment have been owned and operated by the town. One concern of local businesses has been the possibility of decreased parking availability for their customers due to residents taking up more spaces. However, Middleborough officials report that that the additional residential usage has had a negligible impact on the availability of commercial parking downtown.

This small change to the town zoning bylaw has resulted in numerous benefits to the town's residents and businesses. The new residents in the town center have contributed to the town's economy through increasing downtown customers, increasing activity in the town center, and increasing the property value of downtown buildings.

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Urban Case Study

Cambridge has developed a series of successful strategies to manage parking in a high-density, urban setting. A major component to Cambridge's smart parking approach is the use of a Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Ordinance. Additionally, the city has enacted regulations for underground parking that are encouraging a more efficient use of space.

How Smart Parking Works in Cambridge

As one of the Commonwealth's densest municipalities, parking space in Cambridge is at a premium. With little room to expand facilities, Cambridge's PTDM Ordinance was enacted to help reduce parking demand by promoting alternative transportation and shared car arrangements. The PTDM Ordinance requires that new developments implement a variety of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Programs depending on the needs and size of the development. Smaller development must commit to at least three TDM measures. Larger developments are required to prepare an entire PTDM Plan that commits to specific decreases in single occupancy car use. While this is not an exhaustive list, the range of TDM measures available includes:

  • Employee shuttles
  • Carpool and vanpool parking
  • Onsite car sharing vehicle
  • Transit and vanpool subsidies
  • Pre-tax deduction of transit and vanpool fares
  • Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program
  • Bicycle parking
  • Shower and locker facilities for bicyclists and walkers
  • Flexible or alternative work hours
  • Telecommuting program
University Park Hotel & Retail Complex created structured parking for over 900 cars
University Park Hotel & Retail Complex created structured parking for over 900 cars

The use of a PTDM Ordinance has been extremely effective as a means of reducing parking demand by encouraging a balance of transportation options. Cambridge's requirement for all new developments to comply with some measure of TDM standards has created a consistent yet flexible environment for developers to work in.

In addition to its PTDM Ordinance, Cambridge has enacted an underground parking regulation that exempts underground facilities from Gross Floor Area (GFA) calculations. The GFA calculations require a specific number of parking spaces based on the building size. The exemption increases flexibility for the developer and creates an incentive for constructing underground facilities as opposed to surface lots. Given the dense arrangement of buildings within Cambridge's urban environment, placing parking underground is an immense benefit to the city in increasing space efficiency and limiting aesthetic concerns.

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts: Suburban Case Study

The Town of Oak Bluffs is a unique oceanfront town that serves as a popular vacation destination due to its distinguished character. As such, town planners are mindful of how parking standards can allow access while contributing to the quality of the built environment that made the town so popular. With its relatively dense center and the tradition of being the site of institutions that serve the island-wide community, Oak Bluffs has elected to use two innovative smart parking approaches to accommodate its parking needs while maintaining its small village setting.

Oak Bluffs ocean front businesses
Oak Bluffs ocean front businesses

How Smart Parking Works in Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs has utilized both fees-in-lieu and a shared parking program within its zoning ordinance. The fees-in-lieu is specified to Oak Bluff's Business 1 District and allows on-site parking requirements to be waived in lieu of a payment to the Town's Parking Mitigation Trust. The Parking Mitigation Trust can be used to fund the maintenance and enforcement of the business district's on-street parking. Oak Bluffs parking ordinance uses the following formula to calculate its fees-in-lieu payment schedules:

Number of required off-street parking spaces


Each additional space 6-15

Each additional space after the first 15

Annual payment




The Town's parking ordinance also offers basic language on shared parking as part of a Special Permit process. Unlike the fee-in-lieu program, the shared parking bylaw is applicable outside the business district and allows for the less densely populated areas of the town to maintain their more rustic character. The shared parking bylaw states that two or more uses may be provided in combined lots within 500 feet from the premises. The requirements for demonstrating the feasibility of shared parking are to have a parking survey conducted by a state registered traffic engineer. Although it is only allowed through the Special Permit process, this bylaw provides developers with an alternative to meeting the town's minimum requirements in cases where excessive pavement may detract from community character and reduce quality open space.

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