The Law of Unintended Consequences


The Law of Unintended Consequences

One of the candidate running for Mayor of Salt Lake City is proposing that parking be "free" in a certain area of downtown during a major construction project.  Seems the construction is hurting business and the free parking is supposed to help to bring it back.  Read about it here.

My memory of Salt Lake City is shaky but I think there is a huge off street parking garage located in the middle of the construction.  Seems the local shopping center is a part of the renovation, and some of the stores in the center have let there leases lapse until the construction is finished…This has been a primary cause of the loss in business.  Fewer stores, fewer people come downtown. Add construction into the mix and well…

So whats going to happen. Many people park in the off street garages. They are charged. Now parking on the street is going to be free. The people in Salt Lake City aren’t stupid. They will park where its cheapest (and most convenient). On street. So what spaces there are on street will be filled with those who used to park off street. Parking onstreet will be jammed (probably by folks who work in the area) and the businesses that were expecting an influx of customers because of the "free" parking will find that their business will drop even more, since the existing convenient on street parking will become more and more scarce.

I just love it when politicians wake up in the middle of the night, slap their foreheads and say "I’ve got it, let’s help downtown, let’s provide free parking." Politically, it sounds just great. But like many "great" political moves, it has unintended consequences.

I’ll keep an eye on SLC. 


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John Van Horn

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