Shoupistas under Attack?


Shoupistas under Attack?

For the past five years I have been hearing rumblings about the theories of Don Shoup.  For those of you living under a basket, they are simply stated:

1. Set on street parking rates so that 15% of the spaces are always available

2. Return the money collected to the area from wince it came.

3. Do away with mandated parking requirements.

They are simple, straightforward, and don’t need a lot of interpretation.  Certainly they are not the typical complex rules one normally finds that govern how cities or government agencies operate. Many say they are too simple and need ‘fleshing out.’

For instance — how should the rates be set — Shoup says let the market set the rates. But it is complicated.  Do you average the rates over an area, or do you take into consideration the time of day, the demographics of the neighborhood (is it typically a restaurant and club driven area, or is it medical offices, or near a university) and do all this block face by block face.   How do the rates change based on time, location, date, etc.  AND how do you communicate that information to parkers so they can make informed decisions. Suddenly its not so simple and straightforward.

Don Shoup tells me that he is an evangelist. He is spreading the word about market and demand based pricing for on street parking. This is not a new idea, but it is one that can be difficult to understand, particularly for non parking political decision makers and bureaucrats.  In most cases, the people who make the decisions are not the people who have to implement them.

The Parking Evangelist, much like a religious one, takes a complex idea and makes it simple. Moses came down off the mount with 10 simple rules. They were easy to understand and follow. However implementation was a tad more complex. As we can see from the plethora of the world’s religions which are loosely based on these rules, there are nuances, interpretations, and out and out disregard. The textbook that is used by one group has, depending on who you ask, 24 texts to 81 books, and that’s just the Christian Group. It starts to get complicated when you consider the Hebrew, Muslim, Buddhist, and other eastern groups.

So — how do Evangelists spread the word?  They follow Moses’ example and keep it simple. They repeat the same rules over and over.  They use parables and stories to illustrate them. You know, sort of like Don Shoup. If you want detail, he can give chapter and verse, but I’m not sure that’s his goal.

The concept of market based pricing has been around for decades, but it has only been embraced by the parking community in the past five years. And its not an easy sell. However, step by step, we are coming around to understanding how to change parking behavior by using a pricing model that is unfamiliar to the general populace.

Some call it simplistic and call up reams of data and research they say is needed to implement. No argument there. But to sell the concept, it was needed to be simple and easy for non parking folk to understand.

Don Shoup has prepared the field, now other experts can come in, select the crop, and get it done. We have seen that in San Francisco, Ventura, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Seattle, Denver, and myriad other cities the general Shoupista concepts are followed but they are ‘adjusted’ to fit the local environment, with as many different versions as there are religions. It takes an evangelist to get the ideas moving, and then others will adapt them to different peoples, climes, and locations.

Shoup continues to preach, and others take the learned words and make them fit. Its the way things get done.




Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. well. I think professor Donald Shoup overlook the power of mind which drives technology to flow surging ahead overcome any obstacles may come. Yes its true during past decades there is no significant advancement in parking technology, but starting from today, anyone can build garages almost anywhere to take any number of cars to park snugly. So there will be no problem to park our car. The parking rate? of course as always do in free market, will go down! because technology is there to make our life easier!

  2. I will continue to argue that Don Shoup’s theories are wonderful in larger cities but fall apart in smaller markets where a downtown core is competing with the perceived public opinion that parking is FREE at the local mall or big box store.

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