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Friday, May 18, 2012

More on the on-site parking scourge

I see that John Van Horn of Parking Today has made some sharp observations on my previous post (Onsite Parking: The Scourge of America's Commercial Districts, which highlighted the dangers of minimum on-site parking requirements for dense commercial centres).  

Thanks for the plug John!

He makes this important point:
There are a couple of problems with the Planetzen piece Paul links, the major one is that the author feels that the solution to problems is public provided parking (either on or off street) and that this should be paid for by local merchants by taxing them for the parking spaces they aren’t required to have. (Peter Guest comments on the fiasco this caused in the UK in June’s PT, on the streets – or at least the ‘net — next week.)
I tend to agree with Don Shoup that the free market is the best approach here. If parking is needed, and if the on street spaces are properly priced, then off street garages would be a viable commercial venture and the local city need not be involved. However if private business must compete with taxpayer subsidized or free parking supplied by the city, there is no reason for the private sector to move in and provide the service.
I agree. And I am looking forward to reading Peter Guest's comments on the UK example. 

I also want to clarify my own stance on this, in case I wasn't clear enough. 

When I suggested "public parking" as a key part of the solution I was referring to parking that is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, not necessarily parking provided by the public sector! A preference for parking to be open to the public is part of the agenda that I am calling 'Adaptive Parking'. 

I was also worried about Mott Smith's claim that business districts still need plentiful free parking. Regular readers of Reinventing Parking know that I disagree with him on that!

On the other hand, I am not too rigid about it either. In many cities the political process is not ready to stop promoting parking supply. If that is your situation, then public-sector provided parking is probably the lesser of two evils.

In other words, if you really must promote more parking supply than would be justified by parking fees alone, then I would at least prefer it to be "public" parking (as in OPEN to the PUBLIC) built by a local government rather than "private" parking (as in NOT open to the public, 'customers only', 'tenants only', etc.).

An example of public-sector public parking in Buenos Aires. Underground is expensive, so the construction had to be subsidized. But if you insist on squeezing more parking into such places, this kind is better than requiring on-site parking with every building in an area like this.