Parking revenue directions

September 8 I heard about a Donald Shoup lecture at UC Berkeley via Boing Boing. I’ve previously mentioned Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking.

The classroom was at about double capacity, due either to the unexpected Boing Boing mention or underplanning, ironically.

Shoup claimed, very credibly, that requirements to build massive amounts of parking with any development are based on fantasy, resulting in acres of parking lots in suburban areas and buildings incorporating several stories of parking in dense areas, both mostly unused (but not noticably — people park on the lowest level available, so they never see the top level of empty spaces with almost no oil stains), ugly, and expensive.

Street parking on the other hand is underpriced and as a result in high demand even when ample off-street parking is available. Shoup pointed out many surveys that show a substantial fraction of traffic in dense business districts consists of people cruising for free parking, directly resulting in a mind boggling amount of unnecessary gas consumption, pollution, and stress.

Businesses generally oppose increasing street parking fees, fearing this will drive customers away. Shoup’s answer to this, and the strategy that makes his recommendations politically pragmatic (they were already pragmatic in every other way), is that any increased parking fees must go directly into maintenance, upgrades, and security for the immediate impacted district. He claimed that used this strategy 20 years ago and has since transformed from a decripit district filled with boarded up businesses to a lively pedestrian-friendly district filled with high-end shopping.

The single flaw in Shoup’s presentation was an over-reliance on the Old Pasadena example, which apparently occurred spontaneously. Shoup is actively promoting his ideas now. Apparently he was in the bay area to talk to officials, who are implementing his recommendations for their downtown under the guidance of one of his former students. Redwood City is currently one of the least desirable locales in the Peninsula/Silicon Valley area; it will be interesting to see whether that changes.

Addendum 20061114: The same day I made this post No Parking: Condos Leave Out Cars appeared in the NYT, citing Shoup, with examples of mandatory parking requirements:

Houston’s code requires a minimum of 1.33 parking spaces for a one-bedroom and 2 spaces for a three-bedroom. Downtown Los Angeles mandates 2.25 parking spaces per unit, regardless of size.

3 Responses

  1. […] written about Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking twice. Watch a five minute video […]

  2. […] not least by vastly reducing the amount of space needed for cars. There are a couple obvious ways to get started in that direction now. Whether a city makes good on this opportunity for […]

  3. […] still doing green field development. Don’t bet on retail or sports teams. Do eliminate gratis parking, remove 980, and otherwise prepare Oakland to exploit rather than be exploited by the great urban […]

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