I’m having lunch next week with Mike Komada. an urban planning consultant who I think is a Don Shoup protégé. I”ll fill you in on details after the third martini.
Don told me this story that originated with Mike:
Mike was walking around Ventura, CA where he had been consulting concerning their on street parking program. He met a man coming out of a beauty shop with a hand full of car keys. They started to talk about the new parking program being instituted in the city. When the man found that a person could buy as much parking as they wanted, as long as they we willing to pay the price, he was ecstatic.
His biggest problem: His clients would come in for a full “treatment” that would cost hundreds of dollars and take a few hours, and he would have to go out and move their cars every hour or so to keep them from getting a ticket. (Thus the handful of car keys). He was willing to pay virtually any amount for convenient parking for his clients. Hmmmm.
It reminded me of the “jeweler” scenario. Parking is limited to one hour. Man parks, pays for an hour, and goes into the shopping center. On his way out, 45 minutes later, he sees the perfect diamond for his girl friend (Does anyone buy a diamond for their wife anymore?) He goes into the shop and he and the jeweler begin to talk about the diamond. It’s expensive but he can cut it. However, will his girl really like it? The jeweler begins to tell him about their “return” policy if the diamond isn’t exactly what she wants, and suddenly he realizes that his car is going to get a ticket.
He excuses himself, goes outside, gets buyer’s remorse (in advance) and leaves. One lost sale due to parking rules.
Letting people decide how much parking they want in advance, rather than setting arbitrary rules can make a huge difference in the quality of your downtown area AND in the revenues of your merchants.