Michael Takes off the Gloves on Shoupistas


Michael Takes off the Gloves on Shoupistas

New Poster Michael Klein brought this to the party:

and I had a short debate during the CPARK reception at the recent IPI meeting.  He and
Don Shoup had just solved the worlds parking problems, but despite enjoying the
theory as well as the company I just couldn’t get on board their magic bus
without bringing them down to earth to smell the roses.  It went something like
if one believes in market forces and supply/demand economics, there are still
political realities to contend with when setting parking prices as a public or
institutional entity.
black and white – just charge more if the occupancy is high.
easy to say if meter occupancy is over  85% then increase rates by .25 per hour
(as all true Shoupistas would chant).  But that is easier said than done.  I
have to handle the backlash from [fill in the blank] City Mayor, University
President, Hospital CEO, or Chairperson of the Board when the rates we are
charging are more than our peer group.  There will be a lot of negative press
from the media, irate citizens, ticked off business people, and threats made
(idle or not); and at some point the phrase parking Nazi may be
I agree completely. Its not an easy sell. No one expects one to simply raise the rates one day then sit in their bunker and await the incoming rounds. However if you sell the benefits of the result (happier parkers, less traffic congestion, agreeable merchants, more income), the politicians will come around. They want all those things, too, its just that they haven’t been exposed to a different way of looking at things. This cannot be done by fiat, it is a long slog. But its worth it.

South Pasadena got the merchants on their side before they started the program. It was a grand success.

though the economist in me understands the simple answer, the reality of selling
a parking program is more complex than that.  Other factors such as public
relations and marketing, communications, the trade off between on and off street
parking rates, and having an active web site that provides information and also
sells parking via ebusiness applications are all part of the mix many of us use
to ameliorate peoples angst over parking – which always seems to go to the
lowest common denominator.  Also, sometimes we need to exercise control and
force turnover – parking meters are, after all, a traffic control

Van Horn
I agree again — all of the things you list are part of the process. However if you simply roll over and let politics run the program, without thinking through the issues, you lose. Your list is a good one, but it is a generic list. The fact of the matter is that I am talking about a basic philosophical change in how we approach parking — Three Simple Rules

1. Stop parking requirements set by the planning commissions for development.
2. Set on street pricing to reflect a 15% vacancy factor and set it above off street rates
3. Return the money collected for parking to the neighborhoods from which it came in the form of new streets, sidewalks, lighting, design street scapes, security, programs. etc.

Market Forces should affect the parking environment. No good business simply charges for a service and then takes all the money and sends it to support another business in another city. They must keep their business current, modern, have R and D for new products and services and the like. The money generated by onstreet parking most often is lost in the general fund and the people paying for the parking never see any results from the money they spend.  Rates don’t reflect supply and demand, but are set by politicians with little regard as to how they affect the supply of spaces.

Merchants would fall all over themselves to join a program that increases the availability of parking spaces in front of their store, lowers the traffic congestion in the neighborhood, increases their property value AND makes the neighborhood look more attractive. They will then take care of the politicians.

Yes, meter are traffic control devices, but if the rates are set too low, they become a device that causes congestion, because many cars are simply cruising looking for cheap parking, rather than taking the first available space.  When they are set to charge more than off street, most people will immediately go to the off street lot, rather than cruise, and get off the street.

I gotta run, lets continue this on another day.

Klein – I have more to say, but another day. See you round the net

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Politcial reasons are usually based on false assumptions. The Shoup theory explains these assumptions and blows them away. Civic “leaders” don’t like to be told that they are wrong, but when does someone break the cycle?
    The general assumption is that free parking is neccessary for a vibrant center city. There are more examples of busy urban areas where parking is paid than ones were it is free.
    If only the consultants would get on board and start educating their clients….

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