Walker’s post on his blog about downtown parking woes due to seemingly senseless regulations inspired me to post a link about Donald Schoup. Dr. Schoup is a professor at UCLA and the author of The High Cost of Free Parking
Basically, he advocates pricing on-street parking at market rates and eliminating minimum off-street requirements. If parking demand is low, then there should be no meters or the meters should be free during the low demand time periods. If parking demand is high, then the price should be raised until it results in a vacancy rate of approximately 15%. This policy would reduce congestion and related emissions because fewer people would be “cruising” for spaces. It would also generate revenue.
You can imagine that local businesses will immediately be opposed to an increase in on-street parking prices. They will fear that it will discourage customers from coming and they will go somewhere with a big, free lot (like Easton). However, Schoup wins them over by giving all or a portion of the meter revenue back to the local business improvement district. They can spend it on whatever they want, including street trees, street and sidewalk cleaning, benches, trash cans, bike racks, way-finding signage, marketing, shuttle bus service, etc… The reinvestment can transform the image and feel of a neighborhood and make it a whole lot easier to park, possibly drawing more customers. Maybe the Short North would be a logical place to test the concept in Columbus?
Check out this video for an interview with the good Doctor (sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to embed it in the post):