Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Should more restrictive and exclusive residential parking restrictions trigger higher prices for permits?

Of course, the average resident thinks they give plenty of money to their local government already, but the pricing of parking provides one of the key signals (along with limited supply and burgeoning demand) that encourages people to make more sustainable mobility choices.

My biggest problem with DC's "performance parking" and various other " pilot programs," is that for the most part, almost every action of the program has provided greater exclusivity and privilege for residents without residents having to pay more for the increased privileges.  And they deny use of the parking resource to other users with equal compelling reasons for using the resource.

From the standpoint of economics, this sends the wrong pricing signal.  In economics, when demand is high, you charge more, especially when there is a limited supply of the resource.  (In general, DC's parking permit programs seem to be focused on doing anything and everything but charging more, which tends to be the policy that best allocates resources in high demand.)

The September 4th issue of the Dupont Current has an article on the front page, "City lets residents seek stricter parking limits," which states:

"... residents can now request extra parking restrictions on their blocks. ...  'Enhanced Residential Parking Permit' limitations set aside one side of a street exclusively for cars with a permit for that parking zone, instead of offering non-residents a two-hour window."

Problems with residential parking are multiple:

- residents typically believe that they are entitled to parking on the street (a "right" vs. a "privilege")
- especially in front of their domicle
- and that their privileges should come first, before other potential users of the space, regardless of whether or not other users include residents from other parts of the city, or if other use of the space could support more sustainable mobility choices.

Parking in Seattle neighborhoods can be pretty intense, because of the mix of apartment buildings and single family housing.  Left:  Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Currently, the price for a DC residential parking permit is $35/year.  With a couple of exceptions, few cities in North America charge much for permits.  Seattle and Vancouver have 3 different prices, topping out between $65 and $75/year--Vancouver is the highest, with the highest rates charged in the densest neighborhoods, which have the greatest demand for street parking.   Seattle also charges a higher fee for additional permits. Vancouver also charges for visitor pass parking ($5.25 for commercial users, like contractors; $10.50 per week for household guests).

San Francisco charges $109 per year.  Toronto charges three different rates, with the highest rate, almost $50/mo., charged to households which possess off-street parking.

• DC doesn't charge differential rates that are higher in denser neighborhoods.
• DC doesn't charge more for permits to those houses which have on-site off-street parking (which encourages such households in high-demand neighborhoods to get a street parking permit and rent their off-street parking)
• DC doesn't charge more for each additional permit issued to a single household
• DC doesn't charge more for larger vehicles

I would argue that in neighborhoods where "Performance Parking" is in place and on streets where "Enhanced Residential Parking" has been instituted--in both cases, residents receive exclusive access to one side of the street, and at least with Performance Parking, a visitor pass (which can be significantly misused as well)--that the price for an annual permit should be significantly increased, commensurate with the enhanced value of the privilege.

I don't know what would be the right price, but it should be significantly more than the current rate. To start, I'd peg the price at $100 to $125/year.

A visitor pass should probably not be issued straight up, and without a fee, and could be done through an online process.

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At 8:58 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

some typos in the formatting -- meant to be bullet points?

Yes, DC could charge more. But the demand is pretty inelastic until you get to the proposed Toronto-style charges -- 50 a month.

And of course this is exactly why we should be incentivinzing building off street parking with new constructions, rather than the other way around. After all my $50,000 parking spot nets DC about $425 a year in taxes.

And if I drove to work, DC would be making another 400 or so from the operator of the parking garage for that space. add in parking specific taxes and it might be 1000 a year.

I've been wondering if a "uber-bus" would work in DC -- charge $5, keep the poor people away, and guarantee a seat and AC.

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DC should charge residents more for second and third or more cars- far too many people live near metro and have multiple cars and never seem to use metro. There needs to be a prioritization of access for metro users even if people live nearby. Car drivers are given a free ride in DC- and I see a lot of these people on Capitol Hill- they complain all of the time about there not being enough parking for all of their cars..

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

formatting oops, : vs. ; -- I'll have to fix it later.

One form of Uber bus is commuter buses...

I didn't know, you're saying you pay parking tax on an owned spot, or is it just the property tax on the value?

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's put it this way- the closer one lives to a metro station- the more they should pay for parking- especially for a second or third car. It is not fair that these people should get priority treatment over those who willingly use mass transit.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Another good point. Thanks for the suggestion.

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think DC should charge $1000 for an RPP in dense neighborhoods near Metro. That is about what private parking costs.

Of course, to further discourage motor vehicle ownership, the RPP costs should be indexed by weight and increased for each additional vehicle registered per address. A good starting point could be $1500 for a (large) car over 3500 lb GVW, and $2000 for (ridiculous SUVs) over 4500 lb; and and an extra $1000 for additional vehicles (i.e., ad 2nd RPP would cost $2000 and 3rd would be $3000).

We must stop people from driving in a city with such good public transportation that is underused. There should be an active policy to discourage private vehicles, which are the bane to city life.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous wizmo said...

I don't see the logic in why residents of areas near a Metro stop should not own cars. Anymore than why residents who live near bus stops, car-sharing spaces, or bikeshare racks should also be banned from owning a motor vehicle. There are many reasons for owning a vehicle, such as a need to carry tools, or transport supplies, or visit customers not on transit lines. And there are many reasons for choosing to live in a certain home, including convenience to Metro. But the two decisions are not mutually exclusive. I like my condo, I need to own a car, my building has 70 spaces for 250 units, so why should I be punished for parking on the street? To me, spending an hour on Sunday afternoon looking for a space is punishment enough.

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wizmo: Of course there are reasons to own a vehicle, but they should pay for the privilege.

Private vehicle ownership should be actively discouraged by public policy. Conversely, policy should encourage walking -- it is more healthful and environmentally friendly.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I have written this before... in March 2007 I went to the Main St. conference in Seattle where I went to a 4 hour (2 sections) presentation by Seattle planning people about their then new "neighborhood business district strategy", which did a lot of things, not just about neighborhood business districts.

Recognize this was in advance of the opening of light rail (and expansion of the system is underway currently).

In the late 1980s, Seattle eliminated parking minimums downtown.

The NBDS extended this elimination to "urban villages" and future transit station districts.

Immediately I wrote to various DCOP people about this. And I blogged about it.

Anyway, the point is that along with the long term take up of Metrorail, DC should have enacted parking reductions/transit encouragements in stages.

The reason things are so contentious now is that we don't have data, and the city wants to job to one position to another in a giant step with no incremental changes.

... plus my blog entries about the reality is that DC, politically, is more suburban than urban, that only 3 wards are truly dominated by an urban agenda, at least as it relates to automobility and transit.

That being said, RPP should cost more, maybe not in transit areas specifically, but definitely in rowhouse neighborhoods, as a way to manage supply.

Right now, DC parking policy is mostly about trying everything, throwing everything at the "problem" so long as it doesn't involve the most basic application of economic principles in terms of pricing resources where demand exceeds supply.

The other thing is to allow car use without necessarily privileging car ownership, which is what the current system does as well. Again, something I write about a lot, so much that it bores me...

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

to job is supposed to be "to jump"

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah shut up! I pay enought taxes as it is in this city!


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