Don Shoup sent the following email in response to Mike and My comments below:
I agree that parking is intensely political. So what persuaded the elected officials in Redwood City, CA to adopt the policy of setting meter rates at the prices necessary to achieve an 85 percent occupancy rate?
To make a businesslike approach to curb parking politically popular, I think a city has to commit the meter revenue to pay for added public services in the metered areas. The merchants and property owners will see the advantages of this policy because they will reap all of the benefits of good parking management. Most curb spaces will always be used, but turnover will always create a few vacant spaces everywhere, and the metered zone will enjoy superior public services. If all the merchants and property owners in a business district want the 85-percent pricing policy, the elected officials will probably agree, and the City Council in Redwood City adopted the 85-percent policy by a unanimous vote.
Here is a relevant quote from a Pasadena business leader who explained why merchants and property owners switched from opposition to support for parking meters as soon as they learned that all the meter revenue would remain in the metered area: "At first it was a struggle to get people to agree with the meters. But when we figured out that the money would stay here, that the money would be used to improve the amenities, it was an easy sell."
I think market-priced curb parking will be an easy sell in any business district that keeps all its parking revenue to pay for added public services. If the meter money disappears into the general fund, market-priced curb parking will always be unpopular. So localizing the use of the revenue appears to be the key to sensible pricing policies for curb parking.
Here is the link to a short article that explains the success of the revenue-return parking policy in Pasadena:
And here is the link to Redwood City’s parking