I was at a birthday party for a friend last night and one of the guests accosted me after he found that I was in the parking business…
"I live in Venice. There’s not enough parking on Abbot Kinney. The area is being ruined. They need to build some parking garages. What’s your take?"
"You’re not going to like my answer," I said. And proceeded to talk a bit about the Shoupista philosophy. I was right, after two minutes his eyes glazed over and he started talking about the delicious lamb and chicken on the buffet table. That was it.
The solution to all parking problems is to build garages. Abbot Kinney is like a lot of streets in cities across the country. It has "gentrified" from a rather seedy street with empty buildings and thrift stores to a trendy upscale area with tony restaurants and expensive stores. The result is a lot of traffic, and a tremendous rise in property values for the surrounding area.
My friend at the party acknowledged that his property had increased tremendously in value, but he said, and I love this, "But You don’t realize the increase in value until you sell." Huh, that’s true of anything, friend.
He is living in a house that would sell for five times what he paid for it. He has probably refinanced three times in the past six years as interest rates hit bottom. His kids college education is paid for by the equity in his house, all caused by the "lack of parking on Abbot Kinney."
I’m going to drive down today to the area, about two miles from my house, and check it out. But I know what I will find. Lots of parking, much of it unused, virtually free, on street parking. Residential neighborhoods that have "permit only" parking to "protect" the neighborhoods from those damned employees from the shops and restaurants. And as usual, what money is collected goes downtown to the general fund.
The street has potholes, the sidewalks are cracked. Overhead wires mar the landscape. The place could be turned in to a paradise. The money collected from parking could make the place better. And people would love to pay it.
Will this happen? My birthday party friend will probably do everything in his power to stop the solutions. Unless……until he understands that his neighborhood, and himself, will directly benefit from the increased in police patrols (this isn’t exactly the safest neighborhood in the land), better city services, and the like, all paid for by parking fees.