This Atlantic interview with SimCity designer Stone Librande has stuck with me. While doing research for the game, Librande was faced with quantifying our land use decisions.

When I started measuring out our local grocery store, which I don’t think of as being that big, I was blown away by how much more space was parking lot rather than actual store.

For example, here in Vancouver the parking bylaw requires one 14m² parking space for every 20m² of supermarket floor space. Adding the necessary lanes to allow cars to get in and out, this law practically guarantees that grocery stores will be more parking lot than store.

An aerial photo of a supermarket. The building takes up roughly 40% of the image, while the parking lot takes up the rest. There are not very many cars parked in the lot.
A typical Safeway in Vancouver's Collingwood neighbourhood. (Apple Maps)