When You Don’t Pay to Park Upfront, You Pay Big Later
|July 3, 2014||Posted by Staff under Environmental, Subsidies & Waste & Public Debt|
This 2014 excerpt of Vox, Jun 27, is by Joseph Stromberg.
When we find an open spot on the street, and there’s no meter, it seems free — but it is the result of government spending. The cost of the land, pavement, street cleaning, and other services come directly out of tax dollars. Each on-street parking space is estimated to cost around $1,750 to build and $400 to maintain annually.
People who don’t drive cars pay for other peoples’ parking. Cities that depend on cars make it more difficult for people who don’t use cars to get around.
Most city governments (with the exception of New York, San Francisco, and a few other dense cities) require all new buildings to include parking spaces. This too costs money. In Washington DC, the underground spots many developers build to comply with these minimum requirements cost between $30,000 and $50,000 each. This cost ultimately gets passed along to consumers.
Mandating that developers build many spots of free parking — instead of letting demand determine how much parking is necessary — often wastes space on unnecessary empty lots and garages.
So do away with both minimum and maximum numbers of off street parking for new buildings.
The annual free parking subsidy to cars is as much as $127 billion nationally. For daily commuters that park free, this subsidy can be worth more than the cost of driving, on a per-mile basis.
When people drive around looking for parking, this adds to traffic congestion and carbon emissions. When homes have parking, residents drive more. OTOH, where parking is bought, more people use public transit.
The gas tax reflects the idea that car drivers should pay for driving on the roads. Include parking on the streets. Charge the right price — the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two open spaces per block. Several cities, including San Francisco, have recently begun experimenting with the variable, market-set pricing scheme.
Cities should not just put new parking revenues into their general funds but pay for new street lighting, public wifi and all sorts of infrastructure improvements that revitalize downtown.
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Ed. Notes: It’s not just drivers who should pay to park — it’s all land users should pay to use land. Every time you displace others who want to use the same spot, then you should compensate them, just as they would compensate you.
You buy or build a house, you pay for the underlying land, but not to an individual seller who’s departing the land but rather to your surrounding community. No individual seller made the land nor made it valuable. The community creates the land’s value (by creating demand for locations) and it’s the members of the community who get excluded.
In effect, we’d rent from our neighbors as they’d rent from us. Continually paying rent would spur us to take no more than we need and to use that wisely. Society would get to enjoy the most efficient land use possible and the healthiest environment. Plus, the land dues could replace counterproductive taxes and the rent dividends (the compensation) could replace addictive subsidies. We could streamline government and save vaults of money. Just adopt the geonomic principle of pay for what you take, not what you make.