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  1. #1
    Senior Member cranky's Avatar
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    The High Cost of Free Parking

    Looks like an interesting lecture being given in Berkeley this Fri.


    U.C. Berkeley’s
    Transportation
    Seminar Series

    September 8, 2006
    4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in 240 Bechtel Hall

    Donald Shoup, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Urban Planning, UCLA

    The High Cost of Free Parking

    About 87 percent of all trips in the U.S. are made by personal motor vehicles, and drivers park free for 99 percent of these trips.

    If drivers don’t pay for parking, who does? Everyone does, even if they don’t drive. Minimum parking requirements in zoning ordinances explain why free parking is so plentiful in the United States.

    Initially the developer pays for the required parking, but soon the tenants do, and then their customers, and so on, until the cost of parking has diffused everywhere in the economy. When we shop in a store, eat in a restaurant, or see a movie, we pay for parking indirectly because its cost is included in the prices of merchandise, meals, and theater tickets.

    We unknowingly support our cars with almost every commercial transaction we make, because a small share of the money changing hands pays for parking. We don’t pay for parking in our role as motorists, but in all our other roles-as consumers, investors, workers, residents, and taxpayers-we pay dearly.

    Even those without cars have to pay for “free” parking. Donald Shoup will explain how faulty data from the Institute of Transportation Engineers helped get us into this mess, and how we can get out of it.

  2. #2
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    An interesting article in my local fishwrap along similar lines

    http://www.therecord.com/NASApp/cs/C...=1024322421753

    Council grapples with parking squeeze

    Driveways may grow as Kitchener considers plans for subdivisions

    TERRY PENDER

    KITCHENER (Sep 6, 2006)

    Proposed changes to the way subdivisions are built in Kitchener will do little, if anything, to ease the growing shortage of parking spaces in some suburbs, Coun. Michael Galloway said yesterday.

    In outlining the changes, city staff told councillors the policy would require developers to provide one on-street parking space for every two houses.

    In cases where that can't be done, the city would consider:

    Off-street parking lots constructed by the developer;

    Parking spaces on the islands of cul-de-sacs; and

    Increasing the length of driveways.

    The city would not approve a new subdivision until the developer submitted detailed plans for providing on-street parking, John McBride, the city's parking director, said.

    In a bid to avoid a shortage of parking spaces, McBride said, some developers might have to build garages at the rear of lots. This would allow for longer driveways to accommodate more vehicles.

    At best, the proposed changes would be a partial solution because Kitchener forbids parking overnight during winter.

    Galloway said he supports the changes because they'll help future subdivisions.

    But after McBride's presentation to the community services committee, the councillor also said the changes will do almost nothing to fix the parking shortage in some existing suburbs.

    McBride said city staff will consider Galloway's concerns before a report is brought before councillors for final approval, likely in October.

    Coun. Geoff Lorentz wanted to know why some suburbs have parking problems and others don't.

    "The newer ones have all kinds of problems," Lorentz said.

    Jeff Willmer, the city's director of planning, said the problem can be blamed on more houses and more cars.

    In the 1970s, the average building lot was 40 to 50 feet wide, and each family had one vehicle, Willmer said. Now, lots are 30 to 34 feet wide on average, and each family has two or more cars.

    "That is creating a number of new challenges," Willmer said.

    The proposed policy outlined yesterday is a response to a shortage of parking identified in the Laurentian West subdivision more than a year ago.

    Mayor Carl Zehr wanted to know if city staff had looked at the suburban parking issue from a big-picture perspective. Many cities in Western Canada require developers to build suburbs with back alleys where cars can be parked. This feature was common in many Ontario neighbourhoods built in the late 1940s and 1950s.

    The alleys take up more land and require more city services, but Zehr wanted to know if city staff had considered this approach.

    "There certainly are cost concerns," Willmer said.

    He also said home buyers have shown little interest in the limited number of units built with back alleys in Kitchener and Waterloo in recent years.

    Parking is becoming increasingly controversial in Waterloo Region, where there are 395,000 registered vehicles for 500,000 people.

    Recently, Kitchener councillors voted to ban semi-detached houses fronted by double-car garages. Councillors said this was about improving community ties and safety by having more front-yard interaction among neighbours and more eyes on the street.

    It was clear, however, that councillors also thought the houses appeared unattractive, even ugly.

    Each semi-detached home with a double garage can easily accommodate four vehicles. Councillors adopted the garage restriction without asking staff and developers to provide options for alternative transportation.

    In some subdivisions on the west side of Waterloo, city officials tolerate widespread illegal parking because of the shortage of spaces.
    1997 Mongoose Hilltopper, 1988 Bianchi Specialissima, 2006 Surly Cross-Check, 2010 Norco City Glide, 1947 CCM Single-speed.

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  3. #3
    gwd
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    Most of the comments posted at the website you linked seem to come from the heart of car culture. They read as badly as the most illogical and inconsistent posts on the LCF list.

  4. #4
    Lurker extraordinaire Golf XRay Tango's Avatar
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    The second post (from Kitchener) just blows me away. My neighbourhood in Mississauga (70km to the east of Kitchener) suffers from similar issues. People live in houses with four to six parking spaces between their garage and driveway, and yet still dump cars on the street whenever they can! Look down the street on just about any afternoon and all you can see is a sea of glass and metal.

    It would never enter my head to try to force the city to provide free parking because I'm too stupid to have fewer cars than residents in my house.

    I guess I've been riding a bike too long :-)

  5. #5
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    Locally here in suburbs its free, in downtown areas it most certainly isnt, locally parking is anywhere from $45 to $120 per month to park in a lot or garage, and parking meters cost as much as $4/hr.

    here in columbus the amount of commercial parking space exceeds the amount of commercial office space by quite a bit, and for the city itself parking enforcment alone is a $12,000/day gross business just for downtown by itself

    I would guess its similar elsewhere, but I know here that new development in the city itself also requires X amount of parking space per sq ft of office space, this is why cities in america have become the dysfunctional messes they are. People only work downtown, after 5pm it becomes largely unused space save for the few of us that do live there. Its a huge waste of space, very much like the design of buildings themselves-->huge lobbies and hallways, super tall ceilings, tiny little offices. Many of the newer buildings also have essentially what could be called extra lobbies, mezzanine levels--more wasted space. America, money to burn so it seems.

    Im not sure when the switch happened, but here in the old section of columbus parking is usually around back behind buildings with alley access, newer buildings have the usual american design of in front street or driveway parking. Not sure which is more efficient, both suck IMHO, the behind building alley approach looks better though. People will give up their cars when the gasoline cost takes it from their cold dead bankrupt hands

  6. #6
    The Other White Meat BroMax's Avatar
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    I'm just old enough to remember the end of an era. After a ballgame, we would walk a short distance to a spot where trains were waiting on six tracks (or more), engines all lined up parallel to each other and pointed toward the switch to the mainline. Instead of parking lot craziness, a festive atmosphere prevailed aboard the train and those who may have taken in so much stuff of any type to impair their judgement or reactions were of no danger to themselves or others. It didn't take too long to get the last train on its way but it didn't matter as much anyway. Those who didn't live far enough out to use the train could walk to rapid transit. I suppose some people drove and that there was parking somewhere but I can't remember.
    Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedex
    People will give up their cars when the gasoline cost takes it from their cold dead bankrupt hands
    That brings up an interesting question. Are there any wealthy people who live car free? People for whom the cost of an average car is insignificant. That of course brings up another question. How much does someone have to earn find the cost of a car insignificant? More in Manhattan than the rest of the country of course.

    Obviously, Warren Buffet or Billl Gates do not spend a significant amount of their incomes on cars though Bill does like expensive cars. For them the costs of their private jets are more significant (that's the ultimate fossil fuel burning self indulgence of course).

  8. #8
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    adgrant, the questions you ask are all subjective. But I'll take a stab at how much one would have to make to consider the purchase of the average car insignificant (or trivial).

    Let's say that any purchase up to 10% of your income is trivial. Something you may think about but nothing you are really going to sweat if if turns out to have been a bad decision.

    Let's suppose that the average car is $20,000 (is this reasonable?). That would put your car purchase insensitive income level at $200,000. Seems right to me.

    EDIT
    You know - maybe at 10% I'd still would think hard about it. Maybe the percentage should be much lower - say 5% or even 2.5% ????

  9. #9
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    When I first moved to the DC metro area, I looked at a 1 bedroom apartment in DC that 765 a month with parking for $100/mo (plus waiting list) and another 1 bedroom outside DC for 865/ mo and "free" parking. To be honest, the costs weren't exactly the same since the apartment outside DC was a few hundred square feet bigger. I had a car at the time and little awareness of the car free option, so I chose the place outside DC, but now that I'm car free, I much more appreciate the places that place costs for parking space directly on those using it.

  10. #10
    Dare to be weird!
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    Quote Originally Posted by adgrant
    Are there any wealthy people who live car free?
    I've heard of a few from time to time. I googled for

    "does not own a car" millionaire

    and came up with this one:

    Virginia millionaire buys town

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    EDIT
    You know - maybe at 10% I'd still would think hard about it. Maybe the percentage should be much lower - say 5% or even 2.5% ????
    Lets say 5% which puts the income required at about $400,000. OTOH there probably aren't too many people earning $400,000 driving $20,000 cars. Probably more like $40k to $60k cars.

  12. #12
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Did you read the comments that followed the blurb? Most people seemed to be outraged that anyone would question subsidized free parking. Apparently, the vast majority think it's totally okay to make everyone, whether they own a car or not, to help pay for car culture. I was particularly struck by the fact that very few responders even considered the possibililty that owning a car might not be necessary for survival.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Ken Kifer covered this several years ago. Not only is "free" parking subsidized, but the entire auto infastructure.

    Aaron
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  14. #14
    Castiron Perineum Bockman's Avatar
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    so should bicyclists pay to park?
    The best libertarian podcast on the internet! freedomainradio.com

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    A resturant near my house in Columbus has blocked half of the sidewalk in front of their buisness to put in an outdoor seating area (no doubt related to some recent changes in the smoking law here). What really annoys me is that they have an 18 car parking lot behind the resturant. Seems to me that before we allow them the use of public space to make money we should require them to use all available private space. Letters to the city council to this effect have gone unanswered.

  16. #16
    Too Much Crazy C Law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi
    Did you read the comments that followed the blurb?
    I thought the second one was pretty funny

  17. #17
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bockman
    so should bicyclists pay to park?
    WE DO! if you pay property taxes, shop in stores, etc. You subsidize the "free" parking. If I was provided with a covered, guaranteed secure parking area I probably wouldn't mind paying something for it.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranky
    We unknowingly support our cars with almost every commercial transaction we make, because a small share of the money changing hands pays for parking. We don’t pay for parking in our role as motorists, but in all our other roles-as consumers, investors, workers, residents, and taxpayers-we pay dearly.
    Where it's really costing us dearly is in affordable housing. Large scale construction has to take into account an even large underground or above ground parking for each available apartment or condo. This is insane and it's driving up the price of each unit sky high. It's getting to the point where all new construction is built for those who can afford luxury.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nelson249
    Recently, Kitchener councillors voted to ban semi-detached houses fronted by double-car garages. Councillors said this was about improving community ties and safety by having more front-yard interaction among neighbours and more eyes on the street.

    It was clear, however, that councillors also thought the houses appeared unattractive, even ugly.
    I've seen new subdivisons like this where the cars are parked in front of the house with no real garage. It's totally ugly and all you need is a few families to park a beat up car in front of their home to really make the block look ghetto.

    It goes to show you that parked motorcars are a danger to any community which is why this town doesn't want them parked on the street at night.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroMax
    I'm just old enough to remember the end of an era. After a ballgame, we would walk a short distance to a spot where trains were waiting on six tracks (or more), engines all lined up parallel to each other and pointed toward the switch to the mainline. Instead of parking lot craziness, a festive atmosphere prevailed aboard the train and those who may have taken in so much stuff of any type to impair their judgement or reactions were of no danger to themselves or others. It didn't take too long to get the last train on its way but it didn't matter as much anyway. Those who didn't live far enough out to use the train could walk to rapid transit. I suppose some people drove and that there was parking somewhere but I can't remember.
    What a wonderful thought.

    Actually, this is the experience after watching a New York Yankee game. It's not too festive once everyone is packed in that subway car!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BroMax
    I'm just old enough to remember the end of an era. After a ballgame, we would walk a short distance to a spot where trains were waiting on six tracks (or more), engines all lined up parallel to each other and pointed toward the switch to the mainline. Instead of parking lot craziness, a festive atmosphere prevailed aboard the train and those who may have taken in so much stuff of any type to impair their judgement or reactions were of no danger to themselves or others. It didn't take too long to get the last train on its way but it didn't matter as much anyway. Those who didn't live far enough out to use the train could walk to rapid transit. I suppose some people drove and that there was parking somewhere but I can't remember.
    You can actually do this with the light rail at any game in Cleveland. All three stadiums (football, basketball, baseball) are a short walk from the rail lines which extend into the suburbs on both the easy and west sides of town. For basketball games you don't even need to go outside.
    This is surprising given how auto centric the city tends to be.
    Craig

  22. #22
    Senior Member Juilin's Avatar
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    It's ironic, the city of Seattle and taxpayers are paying billions on putting in a light rail, expanding sections of freeway to include bus or transit only lanes, and researching new routes etc. etc. At first glance this looks fantastic, but after you read the fine print you realize the light rail only runs in peak directions twice a day. In the morning between a 3ish hour window it travels north and in the eventing between another 3ish hour window it goes south. Odd hours? You're out of luck. Not working and just want to get somewhere? Unless you schedule it right, you're out of luck again. The bus lanes are all well and good but the freeways are so congested during peak times that you'll wait about as long getting to the section of freeway where bus only lanes exist. The irony is for all the money being spent on transit here, it still plays out to the tune of society built on a 9-5 commute by automobile. What will it take to break the mold?

    I lived in Tokyo for over a year and traveled up and down the country on a light rail that you never had to wait for than 5 minutes for. For the rural areas you could usually find a bus or taxi to take you where you needed to go. There are numerous precedents foreign and domestic, the country as a whole is just too auto-centric and ego-centric to realize the possibilities.

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