Somebody found a bold stroke


Somebody found a bold stroke

The Ridgewood, NJ, Chamber of Commerce has come up with an idea to help solve the town’s parking problem. Read about it here.

The concept is beautiful in its simplicity. Leave the on street rates the same as they are now (50 cents an hour for up to two hours) and LOWER the off street rates to 25 cents an hour for up to 12 hours.

That’s it. It will attract employees to park in the off street lots, and also attract commuters to those lots and get them off the streets thus freeing up the on street spaces for those pesky shoppers.

The local sheet loves the idea for its intelligence, fairness, simplicity, and profitability for the village. Is the plan perfect? Probably not but it sure heads in the right direction. It gets the pricing set at the right ratio and when increases do come, and they will, it will begin to become more market based, automatically. Revenues should go up as more people begin using off street parking and free up on street parking. And maybe, just maybe, more people will come downtown to shop and dine and bump the sales taxes and city revenues.

Gee, I wonder if the folks in Newburyport could use some input from Ridgewood.



John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. I agree that it’s a great solution and a simple one. I also think it won’t work very well, because quite frankly, $.50 per hour is too low. If you work downtown and you pay all day at $.50 per hour, you’re paying about $84 per month to park. For an awful lot of people, saving $42 per month is not worth the hassle of parking off-street.
    That said, I say “hassle” somewhat loosely, because it seems to me that parking in a 2 hour zone and moving your car every 2 hours to refeed the meter every day seems like much more of a hassle than parking your car in a lot, walking a block or two more and then not worrying about leaving work to move your car, watching out the window to see when the enforcement squad is about to come by and letting all your coworkers know so everyone piles out the door in a rush to move their cars. But the volume of people who do this is mind-boggling.
    If they raised the rate to, say, $.75 per hour, what they would be doing is increasing the monthly parking costfrom $84 to $126 per month. Now we’re talking a serious (perceptually speaking) impact on people’s wallets. If you increase the rates, you make people think about changing behavior. If you offer a savings over current behavior, not so many people will bite. But you’d have to point this out publicly and make it a big focus of PR.
    I also surmise that this is one of those cities that has a weak 2 hour ordinance – like you have to move your car to another space instead of off the block or out of the 2 hour zone. This type of weak ordinance makes it very easy to game the system. We just changed ours from the weak form to the off-the-block form, and it has made an enormous impact on vacancy in prime spots. I still hate it and hate spending the time and resources needed to enforce a time limit, but we have to use all the tools available to us to maintain the right vacancy rates.
    Some people at this point would invoke Shoup, but it’s important to remember that a small city with low rates has no hope of reaching market rates over the short term. We are at $.75 per hour and I know my market rates are at least $1.25 – $1.75 per hour. I’ve mentioned this to the Mayor, City Council members, business owners, etc. and it’s a non-starter. Period. I keep mentioning it just to gauge reaction so when the door opens a crack I can push further, but in the meantime, we apply as much of Shoup’s theories as we can within the political climate.
    Merry Christmas from Manchester, NH!

  2. I’ve always found it inrntestieg how the phrase paying for parking is likened to some sort of gross injustice. Why do some people think that parking their vehicles should be a right and not a service? When you park your car, you’re consuming resources, and you should pay accordingly. Though unlike most other services in our economy, the more convenient the parking space (say, a parking spot on the street right outside your destination) the less you pay. I’ve found this confusing. An example from Chicago: two years ago I drove to the beach on Foster a few times over the summer and I could never find a parking spot. I always had to park at a meter four or five blocks away and pay $4 for 2 hours. I was highly confused why I had to pay more to park farther away when I could park right next to the beach for free. This would not be the case in any other service sector I can think of.On a side note, this past summer they installed some parking meters at the beach, though the rate was the same as the meters several blocks away. Care to guess where I eventually found a spot?Where else in our economy does this enigma occur?This is an inrntestieg discussion keep the posts coming.

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