Tyler Cowen cites Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking, which claims that “On average [in the U.S.] a new parking space has cost 17 percent more than a new car.” If I were lured by the temptation of urban policy I would certainly read this book.
I gather Shoup’s argument is that if zoning did not require minimum numbers of spaces and if market rates were charged for parking there would not be wasteful spaces built in uncongested areas and it would be possible to find parking in congested areas.
Shoup probably covers this, but one of the baneful effects of free or underpriced (e.g, cheap area parking permits in San Francisco) is opposition to dense development. Additional residents mean more competition for spaces, giving residents all the reason they need to go into NIMBY mode, leaving San Francisco a stunted cross between Monterey (vile place) and the wonderful Sanhattan it could be. (Of course there’s much more to story. I’d point to some Matt Smith columns and a feature published on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations in San Francsico in the SF Weekly if its archive search weren’t so broken.)
Certain control freaks now want to swing from requiring a certain number of parking spaces to prohibiting more than a certain number of spaces. How about letting people build or not build however many spaces as they see fit? The problem is not under- or over-provision of private spaces, it is the underpricing of public spaces.
How about auctioning area parking permits — what politician doesn’t love a windfall? Existing permit holders could share in the windfall as power dictates. New residents would pay market prices. I’m sure Shoup has many more and better thought out proposals.
A related urban transport micro-rant: Light rail is an atrocity. No faster than buses and far more expensive, dangerous, space-wasting and inflexible, light rail serves only monument-building fantasies. If a real subway or elevated line is infeasible just add or upgrade buses.
- A complement or partial alternative to market prices for parking is to charge for road use as in central London.
- Anti-light rail articles.
- Politically-controlled underpricing of water (especially for agricultural use, e.g., in California) and energy (primarily in oil exporting jurisdictions) doubtless cause far greater problems worldwide than underpriced parking.