Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beyond parking benefit districts

Emily Washington at the Market Urbanism blog has been doing a book club style review of Donald Shoup's book, The High Cost of Free Parking.

It has been a useful process!

If you are new to Shoup's parking reform ideas, please take a look right now at the whole series, which can be found hereChapters 1 – 4Chapters 5 – 9Chapters 10 – 14Chapters 16 – 18, and Chapters 19 – 22.

She wrapped up the other day, with the Preface and Afterword to the paperback edition
In these two chapters, which Donald Shoup added for the paperback edition of the book, he discusses some of the changes in parking policy since the original edition in 2004. He also reiterates his three prescriptions for saner parking policy:
1) Set the right price for curb parking;
2) Return parking revenue to pay for local public services;
3) Remove parking minimum requirements.

She also shared some final thoughts, which I want to take up with this post.
To reiterate, I highly recommend the entire book. I am in complete agreement with Shoup on his first and third recommendations for parking policy, and he clearly and persuasively makes the case for these two arguments. However, the more I think about it, the more I think that his recommendation of parking revenue benefit districts might not be the best solution, even though it would be much better than the status quo. Yes, this policy has successfully built support for performance pricing in some neighborhoods. However, I think that tax abatement districts would build even more support.
...
Property taxes are particularly unpopular, and I think abatement would be sufficient to build support for parking prices that eliminate cruising. As Shoup says, charging higher meter rates is not about increasing cities’ revenue, but rather about eliminating curb parking shortages. By giving the increases in revenue back to the residents who are paying these higher rates, additional cities can build the political support necessary to charge appropriate prices for parking.
Very interesting!

Emily is taking up the spirit of Shoup's idea and running with it to look for another, better way to achieve the same goal.

This resonates with my Adaptive Parking take on the same issue. Remember "Adaptive Parking"? It is my effort to extend and generalise on market-oriented parking reform thinking, like Shoup's.

Adaptive Parking thrust number 3, calls for 'stakeholder compromise'. It points broadly towards the need to reduce resistance and gain support from relevant stakeholders. It doesn't specify exactly how.

And Emily's suggestion is obviously one such option.

I agree that in some political contexts property tax abatement might be the best way to sweeten the deal. In some cases, Shoup's parking benefit districts might be more attractive. And other situations might call for yet other creative compromises.

The wider principle in common here is the need to acknowledge local stakeholder interests and to be willing to negotiate or compromise, in ways that do not undermine the core of the reforms.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yglesias: Where's our suburban parking reform? And parking likened to chairs!

Matthew Yglesias at Slate comments on Seattle's parking minumum reforms.

Legislation passed last week by the City of Seattle will expand the areas that will be exempt from parking minimums and reduce the minimums in further areas.

It is good news for parking reformers and Yglesias approves.

But he also points out how limited this really is:
The conceit is generally that cities should identify some particular swathes of land—downtown or downtown-adjacent, near frequent mass transit, whatever—where it seems like parking demand may be low, and then use those places as test cases for less planning. The real change in attitudes that we require is to recognize that there's no need for parking minimums even where demand for parking is high.

In other words, why limit parking reform to dense, transit-rich places? Reform of parking minimums is just as important for automobile dependent locations! Good point.


Then Yglesias suggests an analogy. 

Oooh I like analogies, as regular readers will know.

This time it is chairs:
I've been to a lot of people's houses. Every single one of them—without exception—has featured at least one chair. People seem to like chairs. But to the best of my knowledge these houses don't have chairs in them because houses require the presence of chairs. Rather the chairs are there because people want chairs. Unfettered markets have many flaws, but the thing that they're really, really good at is ensuring that a given town has exactly as many chairs as its residents want to pay for. Parking is similar.

I like it. It makes some sense if you already know that Yglesias also advocates market pricing for the parking in the street. So on first reading I found it a nice little rhetorical jab to make people think again about parking minimums.

But it falls a bit short on closer inspection. It is developers that usually provide parking (and toilets by the way) at the time of construction. Whereas it is residents and tenants who usually provide their own chairs. Too few? Buy some more. Too many? Get rid of some. Not so easy with parking.

And a shortage of chairs inside housing will not have any impact on the seating arrangements out in the streets. So it doesn't remind us or reassure us that the off-street standards will not be needed if we get the on-street management and pricing right.

So I am adding this to my list but I am still on the lookout for compelling parking analogies.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Parking for a Chinese audience

A brief post to share a bilingual presentation.

I was honoured to present on international parking policy comparisons to the World Metropolitan Transport Development Forum 2012 in Beijing on 23-24 May. Thanks to the Beijing Transportation Research Center (BTRC) for inviting me.

The organisers wanted lots of detail, hence the LONG set of slides. Obviously, I didn't go through all this in my time slot!

Download the PDF here if you can't see the embedded slideshow below.



I hope the translation into Chinese was accurate. Any Chinese speaking parking experts out there - please let me know if you see any problems.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Around the block: parking policy links

Here are some noteworthy parking policy links from the last few months.

This is a catch-up after a blogging-free period for me. In the meantime, I have been sharing things via twitter. Many of these are culled from my tweets

Here are the links: 

The UK's Royal Automobile Club Foundation has released a detailed study of British parking policy and practice. The 113 page report (PDF) is called "Spaced Out: Perspectives on parking policy".  Fascinating data and many interesting insights. But I suspect I won't agree with everything coming out of an automobile association. More on this some other time I hope.

Market Urbanism blog is having a guided reading and discussion of Donald Shoup's 'The High Cost of Free Parking'.  Start here, then go here, and then here.

Speaking of Donald Shoup, John van Horn at Parking Today has let loose with a series of volleys that question the 'street smarts' of the wonks behind SFPark (including Shoup). See here, herehere and here 

Two thoughtful reviews of "Rethinking a Lot" by Eran Ben-Joseph: 
-  a brief one from Mark Chase 
-  and a longer one from Design Observer  

The US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has just published "Contemporary Approaches to Parking Pricing: A Primer".  Hat tip via the IPI Parking Matters blog where you will find a link for the download. This primer is useful! Many insights and clear explanations of the key basics and sensible innovations. And it is very readable.

A bunch of links commenting on California's push to (mildly) reform parking minimums (AB904). Sadly, the effort is now on hold until next year. These are in reverse chronological order. 
- A post mortem from LA Streetsblog
Unexpected Opposition Dooms California Parking Reform Measure (for now)
Donald Shoup's critique of California APA's view on the Bill
Michael Manville's letter to California APA  
- Market Urbanism blog is perplexed that libertarians at the Reason Foundation also opposed the bill and irritated by APA California's stand  

Felix Salmon disagrees (vigorously!) with critics of New York City's proposed outsourcing of its on-street parking pricing and management.

Is charging for parking “un-Australian”? | The Urbanist 

"All may park. All must pay. All should read". The Washington Post on Arlington's difficult but successful decision to end free parking at parking meters for people with disabilities.  

Last year, a Welsh town decided to do without parking wardens. After a year without parking enforcement, the parking chaos forced them to bring back the wardens.  

A hair raising story on the perils of being a parking vigilante in Moscow (via RIA Novosti)

Meta note:  Most of the links this time are from the western world, even though I am in Singapore and despite the fact that I visited both China and Indonesia recently! Note to self: make more effort to collect topical parking items from other parts of the world even if they don't come to hand as easily as western ones. 

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