JVH and Charles continue the Discussion


JVH and Charles continue the Discussion

I put my responses between Charles’ comments in San Serif type like this Charles is in Serif type like this – If you want to see how this started go here. Charles Turlow writes for www.citywatchla.com.

Charles begins:

OK, perhaps I was a bit cavalier with my short answer. Let's get down to brass tacks.

The parking problem in Los Angeles is the direct result of our city government not creating and enforcing responsible zoning laws that require builders to include enough parking spaces to serve their employees and the customers they attract. Not only has the city not done this, but it didn't enforced the zoning laws that were created.

I’m not sure this is the case. Most large facilities have more parking that needed, based on the fact that much of it is unused. Shopping centers, for instance, have plenty of parking, except for the Day after Thanksgiving and the Day after Christmas. I was at UCLA yesterday and the top floor of the huge structure was empty. As I pointed out many spots are open just off Melrose and Third, but they aren’t free. Perhaps you mean there is a lack of “free” parking.

When office buildings were built on Wilshire Blvd, they knowingly did not provide enough parking. Their solution was to tell their employees to park on the neighborhood streets. Then they charged for parking so many customers/clients decided to park on the neighborhood streets. It got to the point where people could not park on their own street let alone park in front of their own house. And all this because the city did not require the needed parking. Why do you think there are parking permits for residential streets? We don't want them … but we need them.

This, unfortunately is not the case – see above. I travel Wilshire and I don’t know of a building that doesn’t have a parking garage associated with it. Do you? Most of them seldom if ever fill.

Yes, it costs money to provide parking. Yes, I expect the business to pay for it. Doing business in Los Angeles is profitable because it is in the middle of a giant population … people = clients = money. If you want to do business in Los Angeles, this city should demand you do it responsibly.

Why would a business that relies on parking not plan for it?  It makes no sense to me. Why is it the government’s job to “Demand” that a business provides parking? Shouldn’t the business be concerned with that?  Along Third, for instance, they provide on street valets – and pay for it.  Seems pretty responsible to me. If you purchase something, your parking is discounted or free, if you don’t, you pay to park – what in the world is wrong with that?

Let's talk about parking meters for a moment. The reason parking meters were installed was to prevent people from parking all day in front of businesses making it difficult for customers to get to stores. It was never about the money!

So you see the wisdom of charging for parking, preventing people from parking all day so customers can get to the stores.  Your words, not mine. We are in agreement.

Now Everything is about the money!

That is the problem. Cities have overspent, overhired, and overextended are looking for money any place they can find it.  Taxpayers are in revolution so they are moving to “fees” like fees for parking to cover budget shortfalls – in agreement again.

The city gets money from the Feds to implement Congestion Pricing and then they get money from Toll Roads and Parking Meters to, as the planning department says, “enhance revenue” … and to hell with the poor people who can't afford the price and to hell with the environment.

You seem to be hung up on congestion pricing. I’m not certain what that has to do with parking pricing. It is true that if one factors in the total cost of owning a car, and doesn’t have it subsidized by the government (with free parking) some may elect to use a different means of getting around. People make these kinds of choices all the time. It’s how life works.

We seriously part ways when you advocate letting the free market allocate existing parking to those who can afford to pay rather than creating the additional parking that we so desperately need. Selling our public parking to the rich only makes sense if you are rich and selfish … it makes no sense as a public policy. It does not create one additional parking space. Tell me how that benefits the population at large … oops, I forgot … you have distain for the working poor … who own a TV and a car, but can't afford $20 to park every day or several times a day.

Neither I nor Shoup have advocated, ever, not providing parking, more parking, or convenient parking. However we simply believe that it should pay its own way. If it did, there would be a plethora of parking.  The market would provide it. Now there is no motivation to do so because folks like you want it to be “free.”  Who in their right mind is going to build a multimillion dollar garage and then compete with “free” parking provided by the city?  Sorry, it ain’t going to happen as long as its “free.”

YES I have a hair up my nose with regard to the rich when they abuse their privilege. I have nothing against money. I want money. I have nothing against the rich. I would like to be rich. But I do have a problem with selling our public infrastructure to the rich to the detriment of the rest of the population.  

We are in agreement again. I absolutely agree that selling infrastructure is a bad idea.  Been against it from the beginning.

Congestion Pricing only works if it is priced high enough to limit the number of people who can afford to pay for the limited resource. Doing this is a betrayal of the public trust and politicians who support this policy should be ashamed of themselves.

Not really. It’s not a case of people who can “Afford” to pay, but who are “Willing” to pay. Everyone, from Bill Gates to his gardener, has limited resources. All of us want a better deal. The only question is how much we are willing to pay for the convenience to park near our destination.

We both talk about Pasadena because they have the right idea. We could argue about whether the parking structures should be free or should charge a nominal fee, and we could argue about whether there should be parking meters at all … but we both can agree that parking structures have the potential to provide the additional parking that Los Angeles so desperately needs.

Heh, can’t have it both ways, Charles. No meters, spaces are taken all day and there are no spaces for customers. The structures in Pasadena were empty until they started charging for on street parking. And folks realized that cheaper parking was in the structure.  That opened up more parking on street, and the area of old Pasadena boomed.  The same is true about the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

It is great to point out that parking monies collected in Pasadena go to benefit the local community where the money was collected, but that is simply not the case in Los Angeles. As I have said many times, parking meter money in Los Angeles has been redirected to the general fund and does nothing to build additional parking or benefit the local community in any way. In my ideal world, parking meter money would go to building parking structures that provide at least 3hours of free parking. When people stop using the parking meters, you will know you have enough parking spaces (and parking structures) to serve the community.

IN FULL agreement, again. LA is trying to pay for the mayor’s limo with parking tickets and fees. Its absurd. If the money collected on Melrose and Third were put into infrastructure in that area, structures could be built, streets repaved, sidewalks fixed, parks opened, street fairs planned, and all would be right with the world. However as soon as politicians get their fingers on the money, all is lost.

One last thing before I get off my soapbox.

We, as a society, need to consider the resulting effect of laws as carefully as the intent of the laws we create. Just as prohibition was intended to stop people from drinking and resulted in organized crime and murders … Congestion Pricing is intended to get people (albeit poor people) out of their cars and into public transit … the result is more congestion and more pollution and more illegal parking.

Yes, but there is a slight problem with your reasoning. There is a limited amount of space and seemingly and infinite amount of cars. All the parking in the world at the destination won’t help if you can’t get there due to clogged street. Congestion pricing as used in London, charges a fee to drive in a certain area at certain times. The Shoup Model charges for a service (parking) and in doing so, motivates people to consider alternatives. I’m not sure the price of parking stops most people from going where they want to — $20 at Dodger Stadium – $25 to see a Lakers Game – etc. I’m sure many of the “poor” attend these events but maybe they take one car for two families rather than drive separately. I know I do. And the price of parking has something to do with my decision. We have to get it into our heads that if we own a car, the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, tires, AND PARKING is part of what it takes to own it. Consider that by requiring 2 spaces per apartment, the city raises the price of the rent. Landlords have to pay for that parking, construction, and the rest. What about the retired folks or students who may not own a car but have to pay for the parking, as a part of their rent, for the others who live in the building. How does it help the “poor” to have parking they aren’t using but have to pay for.

Just Saying…




John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. The amount of parking spaces is not the problem. If it were some unlucky people at the end of each day would be driving around all night looking for a parking space. The problem is more a question of convienence to where and when a person lives or works or shops, and the cost of that parking; coupled with the management of those spaces. That is why Donald Shoup’s strategy makes sense. He lets the free market place effectively manage space use and cost.
    This fellow is fixated on getting the governement to create more spaces so that they supposedly would be free and convienent. He just hasn’t figured out who is really going to pay for them. It would not be the big corporations, it would be small businesses and individual taxes. Sort of sounds like what is being politically debted nationally.

  2. I’ve always found it interesting how the phrase “paying for parking” is likened to some sort of gross injustice. Why do some people think that parking their vehicles should be a right and not a service? When you park your car, you’re consuming resources, and you should pay accordingly. Though unlike most other services in our economy, the more convenient the parking space (say, a parking spot on the street right outside your destination) the less you pay. I’ve found this confusing. An example from Chicago: two years ago I drove to the beach on Foster a few times over the summer and I could never find a parking spot. I always had to park at a meter four or five blocks away and pay $4 for 2 hours. I was highly confused why I had to pay more to park farther away when I could park right next to the beach for free. This would not be the case in any other service sector I can think of.
    On a side note, this past summer they installed some parking meters at the beach, though the rate was the same as the meters several blocks away. Care to guess where I eventually found a spot?
    Where else in our economy does this enigma occur?
    This is an interesting discussion…keep the posts coming.

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