Norway is considering forcing shopping centers to charge patrons for parking. Read all about it here. I’m sure that many avid readers of Parking Blog would think that I would be in favor of this rule, since I’m one of the foremost advocates of paid parking around. But NO, NO NO NO.
Having the government mandate charges infringes on people’s freedom of movement, freedom to operate their businesses as they see fit, and stands in the way of the free marketplace.
If the market is allowed to set parking fees, it will do so, sooner or later. By setting market based on street pricing, vehicles will be driven into of street lots and owners will be forced to raise parking fees to ensure there are spaces for their customers. Its a natural progression that happens in the free market.
If a store wants to pay for someone’s parking, why not? The government should stay out of the deal. It has screwed up most of the things it gets involved with (planning, low income housing, welfare, post office, you know the list). What makes one think that government mandated parking charges would be any different.
To protect their parking, stores could charge, but offer validations to customers. This makes perfect sense to me. Would the government edict require that stores not validate? Would it require that a fee be exacted on exit, and the lot owner not having any say as to how the fee was paid (store could pay it as they do now by providing "free" parking.)
There was one comment in the article that was correct:
"Parking lots and garages are anything but free," says Jan Usterud Hanssen of the Transportøkonomisk Institutt. "The only question is who is paying for them." He
claims all customers indirectly pay for "free parking" through higher
prices on goods sold inside the stores. And that means those who walk,
bicycle or take public transport to the shopping centers are also
paying for the parking lots. "I think that’s unfortunate," says Hanssen.
He is absolutely right about that. Must have read Shoup’s book.
Hat tip: Bugs the Dog in SD