Mark has a great idea. It’s not new. They are attempting a similar plan in the UK. That is a tax on private parking spaces, off street. It works like this: If you have a company in an urban area and parking for your employees you are charged a tax per space. If you remove spaces, your tax goes down – that means your workers won’t have place to park and have to ride the nice “green” bus or light rail, carpool or walk. The best part for the city, it generates revenue.
Mark’s idea is slightly different. He wants to show the downtown merchants that they have a great deal when compared to those “super malls” on the edge of town. Now parking there may be “free” but there is no question that the stores there pay substantially more rent to cover the cost of the parking. Why not charge a tax on downtown merchants to cover the cost of providing “free” parking downtown. Here’s his succinct approach:
Instead of arguing about “free vs paid parking” and how that gives malls an unfair advantage, why not take the same management approach downtown as they do at the malls? Instead of charging the customers let’s do a simple calculation on what it actually costs to provide the parking (debt, maintenance, land value, time limit enforcement, etc, etc) and come up with a CAM charge that is applied on a per square foot basis to all downtown tenants/businesses. Wonder what those downtown businesses would say if all of a sudden they realized what their rents would be if they were calculated the same way as they were in a shopping center?
Some cities do this now. It’s a “parking assessment district” and supposedly the money is to provide parking services – Sometimes I wonder. Parking isn’t “free.” Someone always pays. My guess is that most drivers would be happy to pay for parking if it was a fair charge, provided convenient service, and they knew the money went to a good cause (like paving the streets, not the mayor’s new limo.)
For instance – I don’t mind paying for parking at Century City Shopping Center because it’s clean, well lighted, convenient, and has that wonderful space finding technology that directs me quickly to a space. Ditto the Grove, with its high tech escalators, Five Star waiting areas, valet parking, and floor counters.
If you charge, you need to provide the service.