How Many Parking Spots Does Your Church Need? Blog Feature
Joe LaPaglia

By: Joe LaPaglia on October 16, 2019

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How Many Parking Spots Does Your Church Need?

Church Construction | church facilities

Ensuring you’ve got the correct number of parking spots for church attendees isn’t nearly as much fun as selecting the right fabric for all of the seats in your sanctuary. But you’ll never fill those seats if you overlook adding new spaces in your parking lot. Here’s a quick guide to determining how many parking spots your church needs.


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What does the term ”parking ratio” mean?

Parking ratio is the ratio between the number of seats in the auditorium (or sanctuary) compared to the number of parking spaces, i.e. 400 seats at a 4:1 means 100 parking spaces required by code. Parking can also be determined by building use. For instance, a municipality may say that they require 5 spaces per 1000 for medical use. This means there must be 5 parking spaces per each 1,000 square feet of building. A 22,500 square foot building requires 22.5 x 5, or 112.5 spaces, rounded up to 113. These square foot ratios vary by municipality and building type. For churches, auditorium seating will determine the number of parking spaces required.

Is there a minimum required parking ratio required by code?

The code for each municipality varies, but the most common ratios are 3:1 and 4:1. Some municipalities have ratios as high as 8:1 (one parking space per eight people). In addition, a municipality may require you to add the number of staff members (or volunteers) onsite during the worship hour, which is the peak demand for parking.

Is the minimum required parking ratio adequate?

No, typical churches require one parking space per every 1.5 or 2 attendees. So the 400 seat auditorium by code at 4:1 requires 100 spaces, but the congregation requires between 200 and 270 parking spaces.

What is the best way for a church to determine an appropriate parking ratio?

An 800 seat auditorium using a 2:1 ratio will need 400 parking spaces. If there are multiple services, add 10 percent to the required parking spaces for every five minutes that the passing period between services is less than 30 minutes. For instance, if the service consistently runs long and the passing period is shortened to 15 minutes in between services, parking demand increases by 30 percent, or from 120 to 520 spaces.

Having enough seats in your sanctuary is important. But having the correct number of parking spaces is critical too. After all, if you want to get people into your church, they need to be able to park their car first.



About Joe LaPaglia

Joe LaPaglia is former Director of Cost Modeling for Aspen Group. He has more than 45 years of experience in the construction management field.