Baghdad by the Bay embraces Shoup, Well Kinda…

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Baghdad by the Bay embraces Shoup, Well Kinda…

The city and county of San Francisco is going to begin market based pricing in on street parking next spring. Read all about it here. Not to look their plans in the mouth, but I’m skeptical.

This is the city that had so much difficulty running its parking garages that when it discovered an operator not living by the rules, it negotiated a settlement millions below the amount lost and then allowed the operator to keep the contract and bid on new projects – pardon me if I shake my head.

But I digress…

The city is installing sensors in 6000 spaces to monitor occupancy and replacing meters with P and D equipment that will take banknotes and credit cards. Prices will soar in some places to $18 but the average should be around six an hour, according to the article.

Fair enough. But where is the additional money, which will amounts to tens of millions, going? Will it be plowed back into the neighborhoods so the folks that live there will have a better life paid by parking fees, or will it simply disappear into the general fund? Anyone out there want to hazard a guess?

I note that this project is being funded by the feds. Let’s see if I get this straight. The federal government which is running a deficit that will choke a horse is giving the city of San Francisco $18 million so it can install a parking system that will generate upwards of $30 million additional revenue a year (if each space generates only $15 more on average a day, that’s what you get) but is not asking for the money to be paid back. What’s wrong with this picture?

So over the next 10 years SF will take in hundreds of millions in revenues, or more, since as soon as they see how well this works, they will expand the size of the project and revenues will continue to skyrocket.

The good things – Traffic will decrease because folks will have a place to park, businesses will see an increase since folks will be able to get to them, the little cable cars will see an increase as people will elect to take it rather than drive.

The bad things – The citizens of and visitors to SF will not see an increase in the quality of life in the city because the money will be used to pay for the mayor’s limo or whatever and not be plowed back into the neighborhoods from whence it came. At least the politician quoted in the article was careful not to mention where the revenue would go and how much it would be.

Don Shoup seems happy… His theories will get a big city test. But the part that was to make it politically possible, the idea of spending the income back in the neighborhoods was unnecessary. Cities need the money. This is a way to get it. No coaxing of the city dads and moms needed. A huge tax increase, the money going to the general fund, and the locals wouldn’t even notice. I note that the citizens quoted weren’t too happy. Would you be?

Shoup’s vision is that market based not too high, not too low pricing for parking would reenergize our central cities by requiring drivers who use the parking to actually pay the right amount for it. But he also sees the money being plowed back into the neighborhoods with better street lighting, underground utilities, parks, better trash pick up, perhaps increase in police presence, and the like. This urban renewal will make our cities showplaces, paid for by parking.

Will this happen in our friendly city on the Golden Gate? A snowball has a better chance in …

Sigh…

JVH

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John Van Horn

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