Letter to the Editor – July 2024


Letter to the Editor – July 2024

The Parking Reform Network Defends Itself


In April’s issue of Parking Today, Clyde Wilson wrote a column attacking the Parking Reform Network (see “How Parking Destroyed the American City,” pages 32-33). As the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Parking Reform Network, I am happy to clear things up and make sure parking professionals understand the value of our national nonprofit’s work for America and for the parking industry.


The Parking Reform Network has been around for five years. We have a small staff of four. But we’re also a network of over six hundred people working to improve how America’s cities manage parking. We are guided by giants of parking policy, including Donald Shoup, Norman Garrick, Paul Barter, and Rachel Weinberger, who serve on our advisory board. We have deep experience in policy and planning, with lobbyists, union organizers, planners, engineers, and others on our staff and board. Many of our members are parking industry professionals.


While our network tackles a suite of parking policies, our largest body of work is helping communities reduce and remove inefficient, arbitrary, one-size-fits-all government parking mandates. Our maps of reforms have garnered national attention and press.


We also have published a guide to creating parking benefit districts, which turn parking revenues into the public good, thereby helping cities have places people want to visit. We’ve published maps of how much land is consumed by parking in downtowns; often this is the most valuable land in a city, and often it is underused.


We host community discussions on a broad variety of topics, from curbside management to enforcement to equity. We collaborate with city council members, planners, and legislators across America.


Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson’s column conflated two completely different things — the parking industry and excess, unpriced, government-mandated parking itself. We’ve been largely critical of the latter, while grateful for the tools the former brings us.


As parking professionals have long known, the best way of providing parking is not to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per stall to build overabundant, but unpriced and unmanaged, parking everywhere. Costly parking mandates ruin cities, artificially jack up housing costs and the cost of running a business, and harm people and the environment. But they also completely undermine the parking industry. If something is abundant and free to the consumer, there’s no demand to better manage it through private-sector tools provided by the readers and partners of Parking Today.


A better way of meeting multiple goals, and ensuring people have a place to park, is to manage the parking supply through markets. By using the tools of the parking industry — such as meters, enforcement technology, mobile apps, payment systems, and dynamic pricing — we can meet a broad variety of community goals much more efficiently.


Mr. Wilson voiced concern “that activists are tampering with the infrastructure of our communities.” Ironically, this is roughly a description of what out-of-control cookie-cutter government parking mandates have done for decades. Our role at the Parking Reform Network is to remove that tampering and allow the parking professionals to do the smart management you excel at.


Who benefits from our work? Pretty much everyone, including those in the parking industry.


If readers are interested in supporting a world where America’s parking entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive, they should support the Parking Reform Network. Join us at parkingreform.org, or via your social network of choice.


EVAN MANVEL serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Parking Reform Network.

Article contributed by:
Evan Manvel, Parking Reform Network
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