The yellow line shows the moment of lowest parking availability each week, and the blue line shows a smoothed average

Downtown Santa Monica has hundreds of empty parking spaces standing in the way of safer loading zones, better-connected bike lanes and public park space

By Carter Rubin and Dustin Herrmann

This story first appeared in Santa Monica Next (, a community organization and news website focused on the city’s future.

While Santa Monica is as bustling as ever — just ask the 8.7 million visitors the city hosted in 2017 — our downtown parking structures are serving far fewer parking vehicles, leaving hundreds of spaces empty on any given day. The city could put those spaces to much better use.

We discovered this huge increase in downtown parking availability by analyzing parking structure data for Structures 1 through 9 and the Main Library as reported to

Since 2015, the number of parking spaces available on average at the busiest times of each week has increased from about 1,100 spaces to 1,800. That’s 700 more spaces on busy days just sitting around. That means about one-third of the parking spaces in the structures analyzed are empty at the times of peak demand!

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