TacomaGeekery

May. 5, 2010 at 1:34pm

Downtown Paid Parking

What's the value of a parking space and who deserves it?

With all the buzz about the new parking pay stations coming to parts of downtown, I want to try and frame the discussion in a different way. I want to talk about the value of a free parking space. Just like anything for which there is demand, a free parking space is worth something. Exactly how much it is worth would depend on its location, size, etc.

If we can accept this as a reasonable assertion, the question then becomes: who is it that deserves this value, and who should decide this? Is it the drivers that park there? Is it the city? The storefront businesses? The neighborhood? Some combination?

If we can find an answer to that question, I think we can more easily sort out whether or not paid parking makes sense, and if so how much makes sense.

comments [7]  |  posted under downtown, parking, tacoma

Comments

by Nick on 5/5/2010 @ 1:37pm
As it stands now, free parking effectively gives 100% of the value to the drivers parking there. Are they the most deserving of this value, or could some/all of it be better used for something else?

by Erik on 5/6/2010 @ 12:02am
Just like anything for which there is demand, a free parking space is worth something.

It is worth as much as there is a demand for it.

If we can accept this as a reasonable assertion, the question then becomes: who is it that deserves this value, and who should decide this? Is it the drivers that park there? Is it the city? The storefront businesses? The neighborhood? Some combination?

The street is owned by the citizens of Tacoma and no one should have a monopoly on the space. The space needs to be managed for use by those who wish to use it in a market based parking system for the benefit of the life of the city and the environment:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgtF0B_mxuE

One problem that arises is when a downtown has too many loading zones or short term zones that take away parking from a common pool.

Curb parking is far better for the urban design and function of a city than surface level parking lots as they do not create blighted dead zones. Thus, curb parking should be maximized when possible.

by L.S.Erhardt on 5/6/2010 @ 12:28am
One assigns value to things in the terms of how it is perceived to them.

Free parking can easily be assumed to be worthless simply because it is free. Think about that, and ask yourself if that's the case.
An example, if you will. Two nearly identical houses are next to each other in a good neighborhood and are in equally good condition. At 1315 Mockingbird Lane, the owner is selling after 10 years and owes $125,000 on it. The owner has placed the house at $200,000 since the going rate in that neighborhood is about $200K. At 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the owner is selling after 65 years and owes zero in it. The owner feels that $100,000 is a fair price.
Even though the houses are in fact equal, the one that's $100K cheaper than it's twin and the going rate automatically makes you wonder what's wrong with it. It can't be that cheap without a reason. Termites? Poltergeist? Dragon under the stairs? Built on an Indian Burial ground? Mold? Who knows.

It's the same with parking. If parking is free, it's deemed to be so because there isn't a premium on the place. After all, if the area was desirable enough to be in, wouldn't the city want to make bank on it?

It's a tough sea to navigate. No cost implies worthlessness. Too high of a cost implies usury and drives people away.

by fredo on 5/6/2010 @ 7:44am
Curb parking is far better for the urban design and function of a city than surface level parking lots as they do not create blighted dead zones. Thus, curb parking should be maximized when possible. Erik

Agree Erik, but a lot of people can't negotiate parallel parking. My wife for example will only frequent shopping areas with angle parking. Senior drivers as well can't seem to park in parallel spots without going up on the curb, endangering pedestrians, or banging into adjacent parked cars. And the older areas of town with narrow streets just won't accommodate the angled arrangement.

by L.S.Erhardt on 5/6/2010 @ 10:26am
If you're unable to parallel park (notice I say unable, not "poorly"), then should you be driving? It's as basic a skill as turning left and merging.

This isn't the 'burbs. Parallel parking is a fact of life in an older city designed on a grid. If you want to park curbside in downtown Portland or Seattle or San Fransisco or Chicago or NYC, you have to parallel... apparently it isn't a deterrent like Fredo implies.

If you feel your parallel skills are lacking, you could always park @ the T-Dome and ride the bLink or you could parallel park every chance you get, as practice does make better.

by fredo on 5/6/2010 @ 1:09pm
"apparently it isn't a deterrent like Fredo implies.". Thorax

No deterrent for my wife. She goes to shopping areas with angle parking (i.e. the Mall) and spends plenty. Unlike Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago or NYC, we actually have merchants with angle parking. Who suffers? The merchants located in areas with parallel parking. The challenge for Tacoma isn't trying to get people to feel more comfortable with parallel parking, its trying to introduce more angle parking in areas where it does not presently exist. Downtown plus the T-dome parking is a pretty highly inconvenient alternative to the Tacoma Mall.

by KevinFreitas on 5/7/2010 @ 6:52am
I'd say the Tacoma trend, where possible, is narrowing streets in the urban core and putting in angled parking as they did all throughout the Broadway LID. So, for the sadly parallel parking challenged, this issue is already more remedied than ever before in downtown.

I'm OK with paid parking downtown 1) if it's a reasonable rate and 2) if they have a higher or no time limit. Since electronic meters that take debit cards the intimidation of "Do I even have change??" goes away which, to me, is a great thing. But the biggest bugger about any metered street parking are time limits. They never quite seem to be right for what you want, do they? So I'd propose doubling them or just leaving them open.

Heck, if they want to deter folks from parking in those spots all day, do the opposite of most volume/bulk pricing in this country: Make it more expensive per hour to park longer than you pay for short stays in a spot.

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