The free market is working, things are happening – in a certain neighborhood in Dallas. It’s a hotbed of bars, restaurants, clubs, and of course parking problems. Read about it here.
The place is chaos, and reading the article, a bit of a fun chaos. Parking is a problem. So how do we solve it? The local merchants put in a valet operation and this is how the city reacted:
A review found that some lots used by the valet service hadn’t been approved for that use, and the city shut down six of them.
I have no clue what went on and who was notified, and what part of the merchant/city communication broke down, but my guess – bureaucrats who had never been to the area summarily closed the lots. Note that one was opened later and my guess is that more will be soon.
How would I fix the problem, knowing nothing about it except what I read in the Dallas Morning News Article? Simple – Charge for parking and use the money to create more parking. If the merchants were concerned, they could validate, but still pay. After all, they need the parking for their patrons. Keep the valet operation, but open some of the lots closed by the city to self park and charge. A number of things would happen – first, employees would move their cars elsewhere (find a lot two miles away, use it for employees only, and get a shuttle to take them back and forth.) Second you could do the same thing for customers. Those that didn’t want to valet their cars could park say, half a mile away, and take a continuous shuttle to the heart of the area. But all these things take money, and charging for parking would make it work.
The consultant’s idea about mixed use development bringing in parking structuresis fine, but it solves a problem 2 or 3 years down the road. My solution could be put in place in a week.
Hire a parking/shuttle company to run it and you could be up and running in a day. Pay whatever fees the city wants, and problem solved. If there are 500 cars in the area on busy nights, and they generate $10 a pop. That’s five grand a night and that should pay for shuttles, the lease on a lot and the rest. Sell advertising on the shuttles, charge restaurants to stop in front of their doors, the money generating ideas just start to roll out when you think outside the box.
The frenetic activity in the neighborhood makes the place hop, and makes people want to go there. The developer is right. You don’t want to make the problem go completely away, if you do part of the attraction goes with it.