Parking Policy Disconnect
Matt Yglesias observes,
It’s a bit frustrating sometimes that the only people who seem interested in reforming parking meter policy are generally car-skeptical urbanist types like me. My interest in this, after all, is a bit second-order whereas people who actually drive cars around all the time have a strong interest in getting this right.
He then goes into a wonkish but interesting discussion about supply and demand and an expert consensus that “85 percent occupancy” is the sweet spot that pricing should aim to create that strikes me as reasonable enough.
As to Matt’s frustration, it may be that the disconnect is that parking simply isn’t an issue for most drivers, so it’s not something we’re forced to think about. Prior to moving to the DC area a few years ago, it simply never occurred to me that I shouldn’t be able to easily, cheaply, and conveniently part where ever I happened to want to shop, work, eat, or whathaveyou. It was pretty much a given that businesses would provide parking as a cost of doing business because, after all, How else could customers get there?
Really, it’s just people who drive in and around a handful of our older, more congested metropolitan areas who ever need to think about it. Aside from airports and the oldest downtown streets, parking is generally convenient and free or nominally priced even in places like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta,
Chicago, and Nashville.
In the handful of cities — like DC, Boston, and Manhattan — where parking is difficult, there tends to be good public transit. Which means most of the residents either don’t own cars or they drive mostly when they’re going out of town. Those who’ve always lived that way tend to be “car-skeptical urbanist types” like Matt. And those of us who actually drive into DC and park on a regular basis tend to be suburbanites who 1) don’t get much of a say in the matter since we don’t live and vote in the city in question and therefore 2) just grumble about the inconveniences of city life and then drive home and park in our garages.
UPDATE: A friend who lives in Chicago assures me parking costs have recently escalated to well above “nominal.”