If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.


If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Some apartment dwellers in East Orange, NJ, have a parking problem, at least from their point of view. They are reaping the result of separating out the cost of parking from their rent and the difference can be as much as $170 a month. If you have two cars, the second might cost $130. “That’s $300 a month,” said one senior citizen. You can read it all on parknews.biz.

The City moms and dads have a solution: Cap the amount the landlord can charge at $50. This is a typical response to a problem by government. Its vaguely reminiscent to President Reagans comments on governments view of the economy:

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

East Orange is at step 2.  When developers move out of East Orange, they will move to step three.

The city has created a perfect storm for landlords.  They have stopped overnight on street parking so tenants have no alternative except to park under their apartment and pay whatever the landlord asks.

In this environment the landlords have told the city council that without the income from parking, banks will call their loans and they will be driven into bankruptcy. Not a wonderful situation and also one that is not outside the realm of possibility.

If the city wanted to help the tenants, what could they do?

  1. OK overnight parking with perhaps a permit so they would still be in step 2 above. Cities love control.
  2. Create small parking lots around the city where folks could park, perhaps for a small fee to cover costs. $50 a month comes to mind.
  3. Do nothing.

I prefer three, but frankly by removing on street parking they have caused the problem. I understand that there is limited parking in East Orange so perhaps item two would be a good idea. They might attract parking investors who would run small parking lots peppered around the city, convenient to apartment areas. Or the city could run them themselves.

If they did that, the landlords might find that their empty space under their apartment buildings was generating no money and lower fees to become more competitive. Maybe not to $50, but to one that tenants might find acceptable considering they could park downstairs out of rain and snow.

I know that this idea isn’t pure capitalism, but it comes close. It allows the free market to work, sort of. Tenants can park and a less onerous rate. And the city council gets to keep their jobs. Everybody wins.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I thought the goal of unbundling parking, was to have the consumer (in this case the vehicle owner) understand the true cost of parking and provide an incentive to use other forms of public transportation, thus reducing the cars on the street, greenhouse gas emissions, circling, etc. Even with on-street parking available, there typically wouldn’t be enough curb space to accommodate high density residential in addition to the other competing parking factors in the area. I like your option 3. If no one parks in the apartment garage, the landlord will lower the parking rent. I suspect that demand is still there, allowing them to maintain their market rate. Alternatively, the landlord can raise the rent and include the cost of parking, thus forcing all tenants to pay for parking, whether or not they use it or need it. Interesting discussion….

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