8.12 Parking Security

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following criteria do NOT apply to all projects. Follow each criterion only if instructed to by your project-specific risk assessment. Many criteria are based on the recommendations of a specific building risk assessment/threat analysis. Where the criteria include a blank or offer a choice of approaches, the recommendations from risk assessment will provide information for filling in the blank or suggesting a choice of approaches.

Parking restrictions help keep threats away from a building. In urban settings, however, curbside or underground parking is often necessary and/or difficult to control. Mitigating the risks associated with parking requires creative design and planning measures, including parking restrictions, perimeter buffer zones, barriers, structural hardening, and other architectural and engineering solutions.

Parking on Adjacent Streets. Parking is often permitted in curb lanes, with a sidewalk between the curb lane and the building. Where distance from the building to the nearest curb provides insufficient setback, and compensating design measures do not sufficiently protect the building from the assessed threat, parking in the curb lane shall be restricted as follows:

  • Allow unrestricted parking.
  • Allow government-owned and key employee parking only.
  • Use the lane for stand-off. Use structural features to prevent parking.

Parking on Adjacent Properties. The recommended minimum setback distance between the building and parked vehicles for this project is _____ (project-specific information to be provided). Adjacent public parking should be directed to more distant or better protected areas, segregated from employee parking and away from the facility.

Parking Inside the Building

  • Public parking with ID check.
  • Government vehicles and employees of the building only.
  • Selected government employees only.
  • Selected government employees with a need for security.

On-site Surface or Structured Parking. Adjacent surface parking shall maintain a minimum stand-off of _____ feet. Parking within _____feet of the building shall be restricted to authorized vehicles (project-specific information to be provided).

Parking Facilities
Natural Surveillance. For all stand-alone, above ground parking facilities, maximizing visibility across as well as into and out of the parking facility shall be a key design principle.

The preferred parking facility design employs express or non-parking ramps, speeding the user to parking on flat surfaces.

Pedestrian paths should be planned to concentrate activity to the extent possible. For example, bringing all pedestrians through one portal rather than allowing them to disperse to numerous access points improves the ability to see and be seen by other users. Likewise, limiting vehicular entry/exits to a minimum number of locations is beneficial. Long span construction and high ceilings create an effect of openness and aid in lighting the facility. Shear walls should be avoided, especially near turning bays and pedestrian travel paths.Where shear walls are required, large holes in shear walls can help to improve visibility. Openness to the exterior should be maximized.

It is also important to eliminate dead-end parking areas, as well as nooks and crannies.

Landscaping should be done judiciously so as not to provide hiding places. It is desirable to hold planting away from the facility to permit observation of intruders.

Stairways and Elevators:

  • Stairways and elevator lobby design shall be as open as code permits. The ideal solution is a stair and/or elevator waiting area totally open to the exterior and/or the parking areas. Designs that ensure that people using these areas can be easily seen — and can see out — should be encouraged. If a stair must be enclosed for code or weather protection purposes, glass walls will deter both personal injury attacks and various types of vandalism. Potential hiding places below stairs should be closed off; nooks and crannies should be avoided.
  • Elevator cabs should have glass backs whenever possible. Elevator lobbies should be well-lighted and visible to both patrons in the parking areas and the public out on the street.

Perimeter Access Control:

  • Security screening or fencing may be provided at points of low activity to discourage anyone from entering the facility on foot, while still maintaining openness and natural surveillance.
  • A system of fencing, grilles, doors, etc. should be designed to completely close down access to the entire facility in unattended hours, or in some cases, all hours. Any ground level pedestrian exits that open into nonsecure areas should be emergency exits only and fitted with panic hardware for exiting movement only.
  • Details of the parking access control system will be provided for the designer.

Surface Finishes and Signage . Interior walls should be painted a light color (i.e., white or light blue) to improve illumination. Signage should be clear to avoid confusion and direct users to their destination efficiently. If an escort service is available, signs should inform users.

Lighting. Lighting levels should comply with Table 8-3.

The lighting level standards recommended by the Illuminations Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Subcommittee on Off-Roadway Facilities are the lowest acceptable lighting levels for any parking facility. The above table adjusts the lighting levels according to the protection level. A point by point analysis should be done in accordance with the IESNA standards.

Table 8-3 Maintained Illumination Levels (Footcandles)1

Low Low/Med. Medium Higher
Horizontal illumination at pavement, minimum
Covered parking areas 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00
Roof and surface parking areas 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00
Stairwells, elevator lobbies 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.5
Uniformity ratio (average: minimum) 4:1 4:1 4:1 4:1
Uniformity ratio (maximum: minimum) 20:1 20:1 20:1 20:1
Vertical illumination 5 feet above pavement, minimum
Covered parking areas 0.625 0.75 0.875 1
Roof and surface parking areas 0.125 0.25 0.375 0.5
Stairwells, elevator lobbies 1.25 1.75 2.25 2.75

Emergency Communications . Emergency intercom/duress buttons or assistance stations should be placed on structure columns, fences, other posts, and/or freestanding pedestals and brightly marked with stripping or paint visible in low light. If CCTV coverage is available, automatic activation of corresponding cameras should be provided, as well as dedicated communications with security or law enforcement stations. It is helpful to include flashing lights that can rapidly pinpoint the location of the calling station for the response force, especially in very large parking structures. It should only be possible to re-set a station that has been activated at the station with a security key. It should not be possible to re-set the station from any monitoring site.

A station should be within 50 feet of reach.


  • Color CCTV cameras with recording capability and panzoom-tilt drivers, if warranted, should be placed at entrance and exit vehicle ramps. Auto-scanning units are not recommended.
  • Fixed-mount, fixed-lens color or monochrome cameras should be placed on at least one side of regular use and emergency exit doors connecting to the building or leading outside. In order for these cameras to capture scenes of violations, time-delayed electronic locking should be provided at doors, if permitted by governing code authorities. Without features such as time delayed unlocking or video motion detection, these cameras may be ineffective.
Last Reviewed: 2019-02-26