Had dinner last night with three of my closest friends and colleagues in the parking industry. They are consultants and really do "know it all"
They picked the evening to beat me up about Don Shoup’s theories. They called him naive. They said that in their experience his theories just wouldn’t work in big cities. When I pressed a bit, I got a reaction I wasn’t expecting. It was emotional.
Not hatred or anything like that, more like, well jealousy, certainly defensiveness. It came out with something like "He hasn’t had to work in the real world. He doesn’t understand what goes on in cities. But yet, he’s now the "go to guy" about parking."
Left unsaid — "we have forgotten more about parking than Shoup would ever know, and no one ever calls us from CNN or the New York Times."
The conversation drifted to another topic but I thought about it that night.
They had some good points. Yes, the concept of taking the money that was generated from parking and putting it back into the neighborhoods was difficult, and in some places politically impossible. On that I would agree absolutely.
However the other part was a bit different. They had told me that market pricing was and has been tried "all over the place." Raising prices to try to push people off street was nothing new. In fact "there’s nothing really new in any of his theories."
I tried to explain that returning the money to the neighborhoods was not
part of the parking issue, but the ”carrot’ to get the people living
and working in the neighborhoods to back the plan and put the political
pressure on city hall to insititute the program. We discussed in detail that raising prices enough to make a difference was a techinical problem (collecting it) but in the past few years technology had caught up with the problem.
Then I began to wonder. These are people who have actually been on the front lines in cities. They have been the ones who worked the very charges Shoup talks about. Did these people see him as a critic of their work? Hmmm that may require a bit more investigation. Was it personal?
In the mean time, I am going to set up a net conference where these folks, and others can ask the hard questions directly to Dr. Shoup. I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t answer such questions direct.Its possible there is more agreement here than disagreement. Who knows?
I’ll let you know when it is — you may want to sit in.