Charging Market Rates for On street Parking


Charging Market Rates for On street Parking

I am frustrated by so many discussions about “raising” parking rates. Everyone wants to “raise” rates and blames Shoup, and the rest of the Shoupista band of planners for cities raising parking fees. Here’s the problem. Shoup only says that rates should be set so that 15% of on street spaces are available at all times. In some cases that might raise the rates, in some lower, but in all cases they would vary by time of day, day of week, and the like.

In many cases does this mean raising rates? Probably. I note that in some city I read about recently, the rates were raised for the first time in 10 years. Well, if they have been underpriced, raising might be a solution. If you ask a Shoupista how much to charge for parking, they will give you a blank stare. The only way to find out is to set the rates, and then raise or lower them to get the desired result. Once you do, then you have your rates. There is no textbook or chart that will give you the right answer. What worked on Wednesday in Bakersfield (the night the local Elks has its bbq and poker party) might not work in Modesto since they roll up the sidewalks on Wednesday, but have a sidewalk fair on Saturday.

Rates need to be “edged” up so they provide the desired result. If you double the rates as they did in Chicago without taking into consideration occupancy or the cost of surrounding parking, you get a lot of resentment.

Shoup also says that you have to return the money to the local area and it must provide a “Visible” result. In other words, there must be new sidewalks, lighting, plantings, a park, and the like. And a sign that says something like “This streetscape brought to you by parking fees paid by you on this street.” Invisible results like a new off ramp on a nearby freeway don’t work.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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