Parking should be made expensive enough to make the poor take the bus.


Parking should be made expensive enough to make the poor take the bus.

I have for years expressed concern about the ‘fixing’ of society’s ills. Our betters have a solution, that in most cases involves increasing the cost of something and the folks that take it in the shorts are the most financially challenged amongst us. Sean Williams in Los Alamos puts it best. I repeat his entire letter to the editor here:

I read the letter from George Chandler on parking requirements (, and wanted to complement it a bit. A former county planner raved to me about The High Cost of Free Parking, the Shoup book that George references. I bought a copy but didn’t make it very far, since Shoup’s arguments are both incomprehensible and disgusting. To put it briefly, Shoup thinks parking should be made expensive enough to make the poor take the bus.

This gets into the Great Problem of Abstraction, which is a disease that’s killing my former field of computer science. Some theory will be developed about the world, and the authors of the theory are fully aware of the massive caveats underlying it. Each time the theory is taught, a little more nuance flakes off, like the children’s game of Telephone.

Given enough time, CS students won’t know what classes really are, but will be convinced that ultra-high-dimensional regression is the same thing as learning.

If you think parking should be a privilege, then by all means, build over parking spaces in commercial areas that are accessible by public transportation. Applying this theory to residential zones (including residential areas of mixed-use) means completely losing the plot.

Even the phrase “best practice” is revealing. At its most obvious level this is an appeal to authority, and I’ve never found that authority justified. But I think of it more like the old adage, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” The most terrifying thing in the world is accountability, and “everybody else is doing it” is the premier magic spell for keeping accountability at bay.

By Sean Williams in the Los Alamos Reporter.

If you are a product of State School education, google Abstraction and then follow the link to George Chandler’s companion piece. Yes the Devil is in the details. On the surface Shoup’s arguments seem simple and valid. However when we get to the detail, as they did in Los Alamos, it’s an entirely different story.

We could liken this to his ‘throw away’ comment that 30% of all traffic is cruising for parking. When challenged, he said that ‘it’s just a number in a book.’

Those folks in Los Alamos are pretty bright. That’s where the Sandia Labs are and where they developed nuclear weapons. Maybe we would all do better if we didn’t take everything on face value. Kumbaya


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John Van Horn

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