NY City Reader to “Keep an Eye on Shoup.”


NY City Reader to “Keep an Eye on Shoup.”

Here’s a "back and forth" from a true blue New Yorker on Don Shoup’s article last week in the New York TImes. I think she is a bit concerned about Don. If you like you can read the article here.  Its worth it. Don Shoup at his best. Read this blog entry from the bottom up — part one first, then part two then part three  etc  It will make a lot more sense that way


Dear PG:

Let’s see — people that don’t have kids but they pay taxes for schools, people that don’t have the need for hospitals pay taxes to keep them going, people that don’t have cars pay taxes to give you a place to park them. This happens all the time. I personally don’t think that any of it is fair. You get an advantage, particularly in Manhattan, because parking is a luxury. Most people don’t have cars. You are fortunate that you do. However you get to park it for free. Please explain the reasoning behind the free parking.

The next answer goes to the same place. We own it in common.  So let’s see — I’m Steven Hawking, I make a lot of money, pay a lot of taxes. However I never get to use Central Park. I don’t own a car but live in NYC. I pay A LOT of taxes but I don’t use the streets to drive on or park on. You paid for the city hall, the fire stations, the museums, etc etc etc. But you can’t just walk in and decide to take up living there. What if you said to the museum? "Look, no one is using the place from 10 PM to 6 AM — If I’m out by 6, why shouldn’t I be able to live here.  I ‘ll leave it neat and clean?" I think it’s the same idea.

I knew when I wrote that line that you didn’t have an expensive car, you had mentioned it before — however there are certain expenses in owning a car. You pay for gas, maintenance, insurance, tires, oil, etc, why shouldn’t the cost of parking it be paid by you?  More importantly, why should a non driver pay for your parking space?

As for the $50 a week — Lets say that the cost of parking on street was $50.  What would happen. Some people would decide that the extra $200 was too much and decide to look for alternate locations for their car. They would decide, perhaps, that owning a car in Manhattan was just too expensive, or they would decide that the parking space for $150 in Jersey was actually a better deal and since 80% of the use of their car is moving it from one side of the street to another. Perhaps they would find that renting a car was a better deal. Then there would be plenty of space for you.  The $1,000,000 a week generated by the parking fees could clean up the sidewalks, fix potholes, replace street lights, and make the place even more livable than it is now.

The idea isn’t necessarily that people would get rid of their cars, but they would begin to consider alternatives. New York City probably isn’t the best of all examples but I think the theory works there, too.  I know that it costs about $400 a month to keep an off street parking space in NYC.  However what if the cost was different for different parts of the day — What if it was $20 a week if you parked only after 6 PM and $100 a week if you parked all day. Those people that actually USE their cars to get to work (live in the city, work in Westchester) would have a much better deal and those that drive in and cause all the pollution and congestion would pay for that privilege.

I’m just the kind of guy that believes that people should pay their own way. Of course it’s nice to get something for free, but its not so nice if I’m paying for your free stuff. I know, I know, there’s some part of the constitution that says that parking should be free. I run into that all the time, and maybe back when there were fewer cars that people, that would work. Shoup thinks that most of the problems in central cities are caused by ubiquitous free parking. Most of the design issues, planning issues and the like circle around free or subsidized parking. NYC is one of the few cities on earth where parking charges begin to equal what it costs to provide the space. Most places subsidize parking and strip centers, shopping malls surrounded with concrete, and half empty parking garages are the result.

As for Don Shoup’s scheme…your description is close — I think however that he would say "let the free market work." If you need more parking (IE there is a shortage) raise the price. If there is plenty of parking, lower it. Do that hourly, or daily. As the needs change, change the parking charges. Let the chips fall where they may. Works with virtually everything else in our economy, why not parking. 

NYC is an exciting, vibrant, fun, wonderful place to live. Its also very expensive. It could be an even nicer place if people paid for parking.

All the Best


PART THREE (I asked some questions, she gave some answers. I respond in Part FOUR):

> So tell me about your concerns with Shoup’s proposals…..

You’re so serious! I was so relieved to see that April Fool’s post.
> Is it that you think that people who own cars should be given an advantage over those that don’t?

That doesn’t make any sense. People who don’t own cars don’t have to worry about parking them, so how does that give me an advantage?
> Does car ownership somehow give a person ownership of a street or driveway (unless they paid for the driveway)?

Nope. But what is wrong with using the space if nobody else is? We all own it together, don’t we? While I have a car, I use it; when I don’t have a car, somebody else does.
> Explain why people owning cars should pay thousands to buy it, hundreds each month to drive it, but nothing to park it?

Wow, so is this the essay part of the test? I guess because parking is the one place where you can economize, if you’re willing to invest the time. My car cost $3,000, by the way, and I haven’t figured out what its monthly cost is (at least $100 for insurance and registration), but I doubt it’s more than $200 (if you spread maintenance and repairs out over the course of a year). So it’s not as if the mere fact of owning a car means you have pots of money.
> Wouldn’t your life be easier if you paid say $50 a week to park your car each month and you had a place to park it, and didn’t have to move it each week and fight for a space?

Absolutely. I would sleep better at night. I don’t know of a place in Manhattan that would cost only $50 a week, but I do keep an eye out for one. I’d rather it wasn’t a cab ride away. (And I do walk; I’m not one of those people who tries to get a space near the mall
> How is it that there is no place in his scheme (can you describe it to me?) for you.

Something in me doesn’t like to pay. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it seems to be genetic. Is it shanty Irish? Am I just ill-bred?  I believe I understand his scheme. Charge people enough for parking and they’ll pay or get rid of the car. It’s fair, it’s sound, and the bit about pumping the money back into the community makes it Utopian.  I don’t really have a problem with it. But I’m dealing with the reality of living in New York, which is not Utopian. If Bloomberg suddenly put meters everywhere and I had to pay for a spot, I would deal with it. But your April Fool’s joke had all that truth in it about New Yorkers. There’d be riots.

I think alternate side parking has the ring of a historic compromise. I’m going to do some research into its origins. I’m going to try to write a primer on it–the rules of the game.


> A seriocomic problem. I admire the writing and the sense of what he
> wrote. My problem is that there is no place in his scheme for me/us,
> and should it be adopted (which is far-fetched and wouldn’t happen
> tomorrow, in any case) I/we’d be out of business.
> The Mayor here isn’t running for reelection next time (term limits), so he
> could do something really unpopular, like ban cars in Manhattan or
> revolutionize parking-meter rates. And he’s a businessman, so you
> would think he’d see the value in those spots we take up for free. Of
> course, he’s not in real estate, and he likes to be popular. But
> whenever I see something about parking in the Times that might impinge
> on my little world, I quake.
> I’m also just curious. I guess I’ll have to Google Shoup and keep an
> eye on him.

>  PG in NYC


> > Do you have a problem with what Don Shoup wrote in the NYT? Read it here.
> >
> > JVH
> >

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only show results from:

Recent Posts

A Note from a Friend

I received this from John Clancy. Now retired, John worked in the technology side of the industry for decades. I don’t think this needs any

Read More »

Look out the Window

If there is any advice I can give it’s concerning the passing scene. “Look out the window.” Rather than listen to CNN or the New

Read More »


Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy