Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Politics and Performance Parking

Posted by Eric on May 29, 2009

Matt Yglesias writes up a nice post about performance parking. The basic argument  is that parking spaces in cities are under priced. Cheap parking is a product of irrational worries by business owners and city policymakers that if parking gets more expensive, people won’t be willing to go to their shops. But of course the two choices aren’t between overly cheap parking that results in parking spots that are always occupied and expensive parking where spots are always empty. Parking prices can be adjusted to a point where they are still as in-demand as they are now, while generating increased revenue for a city. In fact, you would probably make shoppers less likely to dawdle after a meal or stop to chat on their cellphone, allowing more people to use a parking spot in a single day, and thus actually creating a greater influx of daily commerce. Upon performance parking’s political feasibility, Yglesias writes:

But politically speaking, the best way to make change appealing is probably to earmark the revenue specifically for use in the area getting the performance parking. That way instead of just having the argument about the correct pricing of space on the street, you can sell it to the neighborhood by saying “performance parking is going to repair the sidewalk, refurbish the bus shelter, spruce up this park, and then provide ongoing revenues necessary to keep everything spic and span going forward.”

Sure, it would be great at first, until some enterprising politician comes along and defeats his opponents on the grounds that we should cut “parking taxes” to help consumers and businesses alike, while promising no cuts in services. Soon, you’re back to cheap parking, plus paying for extra street repairs and park maitenance that you can’t afford. Ah, democracy! Gotta love it.


3 Responses to “Politics and Performance Parking”

  1. There’s definitely going to be pressure towards the unfortunate scenario that you mention at the end. But I don’t think that such pressures are that potent — otherwise I can’t see how any of our taxes continue to exist at all.

  2. Eric said

    Well to be fair (to myself) I meant the comment mostly as tongue in cheek, though I do suspect that these type of things are pretty likely to generate an organized, local backlash.

  3. […] Pulpitbulls) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Pennies from heaven? Parking meters, not banks, […]

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