An operator Speaks Out


An operator Speaks Out

Got the following from David Fairbaugh of Preferred Parking in Charlotte, NC.


Have you considered an article or discussion about Cities providing parking in direct competition with private operators? I know of no other business where this is the case. Why do Cities feel compelled to provide parking?Why do they do so and undercut market rates? Why do they so often exclude their own spaces from codes that are enforced on private spaces?

I’d like to hear some rebuttals or opposing views from City Parking Managers as to why they feel the need to provide parking. One can only imagine the uproar if Cities used same arguments to provide hotel rooms, restaurants, taxis, etc. and used tax dollars to subsidize them and undercut private investors!

Keep up the good work-

I told him to become a Shoupista and read Don’s book. But my further comment is this. You are right. The cities should get out of the parking business. The problems were caused by the planners who felt there needed to be parking to support the facilities and cities jumped on board to provide the parking.

Remember, most downtown parking was build by cities after the merchants started lobbying for low cost or free parking to support their businesses. The cities were happy to jump on board.  Whoops — here comes another message from Dave:

I am reading it now. (Shoups Book) Unfortunately it doesn’t offer much dialog from the City Parking managers to support their actions. He explains it quite well, but nobody defends the municipal position. It Charlotte, they ignore you and hope that you go away…

Now Dave — You know that these bureaucrats simply want to keep their jobs. If they logically thought through the process and understood the problems they caused by ubiquitous free or low cost parking, they would realize they shouldn’t even have jobs and would have to come and work for you.

The private sector could easily handle parking in cities (even on street). However once the city gets its fingers in a pie, its almost impossible to get them out. Also, remember, most cities make a large profit on particularly on street parking. They aren’t about to give up that money that helps fill their general fund.

Of course if they were to put the money back in to the neighborhoods where it was generated and clean up street scapes, storefronts, lighting and security, they would be doing what a city should be doing, providing services for the people that use them.

Lets see if anyone out there has any comments…What about it Parking Authorities and Muni Parking Managers?


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Parking in a downtown is a public benefit that is usually subsidized by the city. In every other office/commericial development, parking is a user/tenant benefit regulated by zoning and paid for by the private sector. Parking has been a public benefit in cities for over 85 years. There weren’t that many parking operators in those days and ones that were in business were really landlords. Small companies that owned downtown lots that were being landbanked for a development deal. In the meantime, cars were parked on the lot. The public benefit evolved quickly as America’s love affair with the automobile grew. Yes, it is mostly about money. But, not about huge cash surpluses. This is only true for airport parking revenues. Most cities that don’t want to benefit from professional parking operators, are afraid that the operator will raise parking rates beyond what the market will bear and drive business out of town. This attitude and subsidized parking rates have made private development of parking in downtowns economically unfeasible.
    Obviously, there is much more that can be said about the pros and cons of outsourcing parking operations. I will save that for later.

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