Last week I wrote on San Francisco’s attempt at controlling parking through a sorta Shoupista market based program. Read that post here.
I lunched with the good Professor last Friday and got a personal update on the program. Dr. Shoup is consulting with the city. He says they have a problem that didn’t get noted in the SF Examiner article.
Handicapped Parking Permits.
There are literally tens of thousands of handicapped parking permits issued in Baghdad by the Bay. Each one of them allows people to park free. So what is happening is that though parking spaces are jammed in the city, a great minority if not a majority of them are filled by people who don’t pay. Handicapped Permits give on street parkers a free ride.
Since the market is out of the picture when it concerns a very large number of parkers, it makes sense that the city’s approach will make little difference with traffic, cruising, or use of motor vehicles.
Don told me an interesting story. He said that a few years ago he was in Sacramento and noted that around the capitol building there was a street whose parking spaces were full of cars with handicapped permits. When he asked a local officer what he thought the percentage of these permits were bogus, either counterfeit or issued improperly, he smiled and said: “100%.”
My guess is that San Francisco may be moving into the same position. Since parking with a permit is free, it’s to everyone’s advantage to get one any way they can.
The solution – charge for all parking. Handicapped people need the space because they need access. They don’t need “FREE” parking. The new system could provide reduced fees for handicapped parkers with a special permit or whatever if that’s necessary.
Charging for all parking would make the handicapped permits less desirable and would also open up space for legitimate handicapped parkers to use.
The irony of it all is that the city allows charging for off street handicapped parking.
This is a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences kicking in. The city will spend millions for the new program, and it will fail because of another program that is already in place. Good people making decisions to help some that actually ends up hurting everyone.
I’ll keep you posted