A few days ago I commented on an article in UCLA’s Daily Bruin by Katrina Oh concerning the shopping area near the campus (Westwood) and the city’s plans to privatize a parking garage there and perhaps the “free” parking in that garage would go away. Katrina was lamenting how this would hurt the students and the area. You can read my comments here.
Katrina’s article received quite a few comments, many agreeing that parking should be “free” and poor downtrodden students should be able to avail themselves of that benefit. However one person did “get it.” His English is typical of most college students, but you get the drift:
Thanks to Katrina Oh to think so firmly inside the car. This is California, no less, and paying for parking, like paying for sex, is really frowned up. Give us free parking! we hear the shouting from the street – the natives are getting restless. Slowly it dawns on them that free parking is never free, and that paying for parking is a great way to manage traffic.
But not all is lost. Attending a world class university will give Katrina Oh a chance to attend some classes, including those of Donald Shoup in Urban Planning, and there she will learn to lay aside the firm sense of car entitlement, and the religious belief in parking entitlement: Driving your car is a human right and burning gas is no problem. Never mind the impact on the eco-sphere.
I am a cyclist and I shall rush to email Paul Koretz (LA City Councilman) and congratulate him for ending the myth of free parking which has done so much harm to our cities, including Westwood. I will encourage him to allow the buyer of the structure to charge market rates for parking immediately upon purchase, and I look forward to see a few more cyclists on the road. We have a long way to go until the price of driving reflects its total social cost.
Last month the majority of Californians rejected dirty energy proposition 23. Now its time to bury the poisonous belief in the benefit of free parking. Keep on Truckin’, Bruins!
People don’t come to Westwood because the sidewalks are broken and pushed up by what trees there are, many of the stores are empty and most of those that remain cater to students and have little interest to folks who want to shop in a relatively upscale area ( like the areas of Santa Monica and Century City Ms Oh mentions. )
But what would happen if the money collected from on street parking was plowed back into the infrastructure of the area. New sidewalks, perhaps close a street or two and make walking and shopping areas (there are a number of streets that would be perfect for this). Maybe some afternoon and weekend events for adults, not rave sessions for college kids. Westwood used to be the center for seeing new movies – But there hasn’t been a theater complex built there in 30 years.
If the evil free market were to set the on street rates in Westwood, people would quickly park in cheaper off street lots and structures (I have a friend who has a lot there that is a block from Westwood Boulevard and basically empty because people are willing to pay the buck an hour to park slightly more conveniently on street.) Higher on street rates would mean less congestion (cruising looking for parking) and a much more attractive “village” atmosphere.
Nah – keep the parking cheap or free. Enable students who basically have no money. A shopping and entertainment mecca becomes a ghost town.