Should we punch the ticket for more expensive parking?

troy pay and display parking meterPeople get very passionate about parking and seemingly all things parking-related: paying for it, permits, meters, shoveling. And these conversations almost always revolve around whether there's enough parking -- and whether it's cheap enough.

Well, in a NYT column this weekend economist Tyler Cowen pushes the case that in most places parking should be... more expensive:

Is this a serious economic issue? In fact, it's a classic tale of how subsidies, use restrictions, and price controls can steer an economy in wrong directions. Car owners may not want to hear this, but we have way too much free parking.
Higher charges for parking spaces would limit our trips by car. That would cut emissions, alleviate congestion and, as a side effect, improve land use.

Cowen goes on to talk about the work of Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and the author of The High Cost of Free Parking. He continues the discussion on his excellent blog -- and responds to criticism.

Also via Cowen: San Francisco is testing parking meters that change the price based on current supply and demand.

By the way: Troy is considering residential parking permits for three of its neighborhoods. [TU]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Assembly passes Albany residential parking permits bill
+ Meters parked in Troy
+ The ethics of the shoveled parking spot
+ Ask AOA: Parking in Center Square
+ How the rest of us are ticketed

photo: Kim M


I'm one of the lucky folks to have these meters (as pictured) appear on my block. As with the 2-hour policy they replaced, the meters seem to be in effect only for Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00 -- though they don't say so. If that changes, I'll probably find out the hard way.

What's the practical difference, now vs. before? Before, if I'm on the correct (alternate) side tonight, I'm good till 11:00am tomorrow. Now, I'm in violation at 9:00am -- given my schedule, a more significant change than it seems. If you've ever sat straight up in bed at 4:00am panicked that you're mis-parked, you know what I mean. We who must sweat parking develop strange reflexes. I could go on.

On the plus side, Troy cops have leaned on my doorbell at 4:00am more than once, after taking the time to run my plates and see that I live here. Community policing at its best. If I were smarter, I'd paste something to my windshield that says "Troy Downtown Resident, 44 4th Street." Like having clerical plates.

Understand, too, that there are good reasons to reliably clear some parts of the street overnight. That's when the street-sweepers and snow plows come through. Everybody has to do their work in a city.

One thing's sure: a "vibrant" downtown has actual residents, augmented by visitors. Residents lend heft, sense of place, and smooth the business cycle. Without them, it's no more than a theme park. I'll proudly apply for a Troy resident parking permit, not just because it'd make my life easier (it would), but also because it acknowledges my notion of what urban community engineering in the public sector must do.


As much as I hate parking, and building and whatnot... wouldn't parking garages make better sense than flat lots? I mean, you can put more cars there... Maybe I'm just crazy ;)

Also, thanks for reminding me to move my car into my garage... :) Off street parking FTW!

Finally - free parking ain't free folks!

"Residents lend heft" (to quote Lou Quillio) - this could be a great bumper sticker to identify us city dwellers.

Let me clarify my comment above, WRT Troy Police and towing. They've several times taken the trouble to clue me, in the middle of the night, that I'd be towed if I didn't move my car. That's pretty awesome and I appreciate it. I'm not a macher around here and have no special connections at all. The easiest thing is to just let the mis-parked be towed. That a young cop working an overnight even thinks to go the extra mile on a totally vanilla car (black Hyundai Elantra) means they're paying attention to their neighborhoods.


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