Annapolis Wins Coveted “Baghdad by the Bay” award


Annapolis Wins Coveted “Baghdad by the Bay” award

I am awarding the Baghdad by the Bay award this month to Annapolis, MD, for its amazing depth of understanding of parking and the free market.

For those of you who don’t remember (It’s been a while since this award has been presented) the Baghdad by the Bay award is named for the Famous City by the Golden Gate because during the first years of this blog they were the crack representative of a city that if there was a proper way to go with a parking policy, they would do the opposite. Many cities, large and small, have been recipients of the coveted award and today it goes to the Maryland capital and home of the Naval academy.

Here’s the story. You can read about it if you like.

The City of Annapolis has a parking problem. There aren’t enough on street spaces. So to solve the problem they built a parking garage. So far so good. However the garage has been a money loser. No one seems to want to park in it.

To solve the problem the parking wizards in Annapolis doubled the rates in the garage. They seemed confused when that didn’t work. Local businesses cancelled their contracts to park in the garage. Hmmmmm.

Its coming, you know its coming, wait for it……………Why don’t people park in the garage? I quote from the article:

Some businesses say their customers (and of course their employees) would prefer to park FREE on the streets.

With all the publicity, all the articles, all the research, all the speeches and presentations made by Shoupistas over the past five years since Don Shoup’s book, the High Cost of Free Parking, came out, they just don’t get it.

People will follow market pricing every time. Why should someone pay to park in a less convenient spot in a garage a couple of blocks away from where they are going, rather than park free next to the store they plan to visit? This isn’t brain surgery or quantum physics, Annapolis, for goodness sakes.

If the on street spaces cost more than the off street spaces, the following things would happen, immediately and automatically:

  1. Most people would elect to park in the structure, making it financially viable.
  2. Some people would elect to pay to park on street, increasing revenue from on street parking.
  3. Spaces would be freed up on street for those people so they didn’t have to cruise around looking for a spot near where they wanted to go.
  4. Merchants would be happy because there would be plenty of parking space near their shops for those who wanted to park there (and their sales would go up)
  5. Traffic congestion caused by people cruising around looking for free parking would be alleviated.
  6. They city’s coffers would be filled to overflowing.
  7. Global warming would be stopped in its tracks
  8. The common cold would have a cure.
  9. Peace would break out in the Middle East
  10. The stock market would break 13,000.

OK, maybe the last four are a fantasy, but then so are the parking policies in Annapolis, making them the perfect recipient for my Baghdad by the Bay award.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. As a longtime resident of this east coast “Baghdad by the Bay” I say hooray for you! But you missed that Annapolis on the shores of Chesapeake Bay–so we truly are By the Bay–like San Francisco!
    As the former transportation marekting specialist for the city and now a transportation consultant, and blogger, I refer your readers to where I frequently address parking and mobility issues. Parking is the constant challenge in Annapolis, but no political or business leader or group is willing to tackle the tough issues. I have repeatedly referred readers to Donald Shoup’s works and most recently, in response to the Knighton Garage issue of which you write, I posted this piece:
    I encourage you to continue covering this issue as we are not just a small city, but the historic and well-known capital of a wealthy and densely populated state. I will be posting a piece today about your coverage and I thank you.
    Paul Foer
    Annapolis, MD

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