UCLA Professor Donald Shoup has repudiated his market based theories on parking pricing. Speaking exclusively to me on the proviso that I would publish his remarks in this column, Dr. Shoup says that frankly, his ideas just "don’t work."
"I know that everyone thinks that I believe in my ideas, but after I reviewed some additional research done by my graduate students on urban planning, I realized that the concept of low cost on street parking and high cost off street parking simply is the only way."
Shoup told me that he had an epiphany and now sees the light. "The idea that you can change people’s habits with the free market is simply ludicrous. Look at New York. Those people aren’t going to change if you begin to charge for parking. New Yorkers are set in their ways. And so are most people.’
The American Planning Association has not returned my phone calls as to whether or not they will begin an investigation of the entire parking industry. There has been some concern that since Shoup’s theories were so attractive, that many cities were abandoning time honored planning practices and taking on a more libertarian approach to parking. "Make people pay as you go" was beginning to take hold in such cities as Seattle, Denver, Redwood City, and Chicago. The future of downtown parking in those and other cities is now "up in the air."
Shoup says that he was going into seclusion to consider what to do. His
book, "The High Cost of Free Parking" was beginning to become the bible
on parking planning for cities worldwide. When I asked him if we was
going to write another book, he simply shrugged. "I don’t know," he
He is not returning phone calls, but told me personally that he tried to keep the New York Times from publishing his most recent article on the subject this past Friday, but was unsuccessful. "It’s another case of the Times just moving too quickly without checking all the facts."
Look for a complete expose on this breaking story this month in Parking Today.
This has been a personal blow to me, since I have invested so much time and energy in the Shoupista cause. Let me tell you, I’m going to be more careful before I throw my lot in with academics again. Of course, if you believe a word of the above, you are an April Fool.