The LA Times this morning has this headline:
State Lawmakers Take Aim at Free Parking
The story is here:
The article reads like Don Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking. These legislators have gotten the word and now are considering REQUIRING that local governments and private organizations to charge for parking. They use all the great Shoupista arguments, but somehow I’m worried.
I have never trusted politicians and think we should wait for the other shoe to drop. Yes I firmly believe that all parking should be charged to the driver, and not “free.” And let the free market decide the rates. However having the state MANDATE that a locality should charge for parking is scary at best.
This is like letting the nose of the camel into the tent. Before you know it, you are sleeping with the camel. My guess is that these legislators will mandate parking charges and then low and behold, they will also mandate a state tax on all parking charges. Think about it. They will realize that parking generated tons of money and they will want their share.
But that’s only the beginning – Once they begin a parking charge mandate will they also begin to “regulate” parking on the state level, setting rules as to what type of parking you can have (pay and display, pay by space, single meter, etc etc etc) and then what records you need to keep and what about private parking – will they require that the charges for parking not be included in the cost of your theater ticket but be charged direct, so they can calculate their pound of flesh. And if not, will they set a charge that they see as “fair” and charge you the tax anyway, whether you collect the parking fees from the patron or the theater.
If you think the above is complex, that’s only the beginning. The government’s middle name is complexity. I can see property owners, operators, universities, and cities having to hire people to do nothing but keep records on their parking fees to prove that the amount they pay to the state is correct (can you say sales tax, property tax, income tax, excise tax, etc)
I realize that the article says this is a “green” program, to force cities and employers to charge for parking so people will be enticed to walk, ride bicycles or rapid transit. Yeah, right. It’s a thinly guised attempt to get their hands on our wallets, just you wait and see.
Cities are coming around, trust me. The entire reason P and D is so popular is because it can take credit cards and banknotes so cities can raise their parking rates. I can see no need for the state government and of all people the Sierra Club to get involved in parking charges.