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« Jahsonic | Main | Political Linkage »

July 20, 2008

More on Parking

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Does "free" parking come at too high a price? UCLA prof Donald Shoup thinks that we have our priorities -- and our pricing schemes -- all wrong. "I don't see why people should have to pay market rents to live in a neighborhood, but the cars should live rent free," he says.

Watch an interview with Shoup here. Listen to one here. Here's Shoup's book about parking. I wrote about how well-done parking arrangements can help bring a downtown back to life back here.



posted by Michael at July 20, 2008


I have a lot more confidence in greasy, slimy developers looking to make a buck than I do in intellectuals with theories about how things ought to be.

I'd rather see Tony Soprano and his corrupt construction company running the show than university trained architects and designers. Somehow, I trust the ruthless desire to make a buck far more than I trust taste and aesthetics.

The great dream of the NYC intellectual continues to be making U.S. cities look as if they were European cities. We're not Europe, and I don't want to be Europe. The U.S. is a better place than Europe, precisely because it is rambunctious, gaudy, jerry-built and, often, in bad taste.

The campaign against the car seemes to draw in many constituencies. Frankly, I don't understand it. That great popular culture of America is built on the car. When it comes to parking lots, well... hell... why try to disguise what they are? They're concrete blocks built for parking cars. As a "designer," I'd follow the first rule of design and put the function right up on top.

Now that the global warming hoax is beginning to fall apart, and to be revealed to be as yet another ruse by those who favor centralized decision making and price fixing, I think it's time for those of us who love cars and gas to stand up and be counted.

Cars are great! Gas is good! Long live the gasoline powered car. It's been great for us, and I predict it will continue to be great for us for far longer than anybody expects.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 20, 2008 9:29 AM

I would love to have seen the entertaining rants that might have been published by Shouting Thomas's ancestors in broadsides about the vitality of the whale oil industry and the romance of whaling, or perhaps the love Americans have for horses, their use as the ideal mode of transportation and how horses helped shape the culture of America. Oh, those pointy-headed academics wringing their hands about declining whale populations with their foolish notion of looming whale oil and ambergris shortages. And those damn intellectual planners complaining about the stench of excessive manure in urban areas, such ninnies.

Posted by: Chris White on July 20, 2008 11:02 AM

I'll be damned if I can make anything out of what you just said, Chris.

Oil and gasoline replaced whale oil and horsepower because greedy robber barons figured out how to make a buck selling cars and gas.

I have no doubt that one day other greedy robber barons will figure out how to make cars, planes and trains run on something else. They will do this because they can make a buck. The ingenuity and greed of the American entrepreneur should never be underestimated.

So, please explain... what were you talking about?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 20, 2008 12:33 PM

"Cars are great! Gas is good!" Priceless stuff. I am amused that you reacted to a posting about how free parking vs. parking priced to achieve an efficient vacancy rate can improve downtown environments by attacking intellectuals, architects, designers and Europe, while praising gangsters, developers and the theory of global warming. I find your ability to work yourself up into a self-righteous lather with the slightest provocation both highly entertaining and just a little bit odd. Whether or not global warming proves a real threat or an overblown hype, whether or not one likes cars, what does that have to do with the actual topic? If you love your car and drive it to an urban downtown to do more than simply drive around, presumably you will need at some point to park it. Cities have some mix of free parking, metered parking and public and private parking lots and garages. Why should a reasonable opinion with good examples for one approach to pricing parking options elicit such a response as yours? Damned if I know, but it was entertaining.

Posted by: Chris White on July 20, 2008 6:59 PM

There's a huge problem with allowing only people in the neighborhood to park in the neighborhood--the neighborhoodies don't own the road, nor do they finance it. They might finance the private property near the road, but not the road itself. The general taxpayer does. So the general taxpayer should have the use of parking.

The real reason of restricting parking is that without that, the values of the private property would go down, so in essence, its just another scheme of privatizing the profits and socializing the cost. Taxpayers are again forced to subsidize private developers and property owners.

Private developers constantly overbuild with relation to parking. They don't provide enough off-street parking for their developments. And even if they did, it doesn't account for the increase in other vehicles, like service trucks, or visitors to said private property owners, who are expected to park in the street. There's just too much density.

The solution is to de-densify (suburbs, anyone?), and to keep the roads free. I can't stand transportation or urban planning professors. Most of them are whores, just like everybody else. And besides, if the prof told people the truth, he wouldn't be quoted in the press, which is just another huge whoring operation.

Long live the car, and long live gasoline! BTW, the use of coal also changed the environment for the better. People stopped cutting down trees for fuel. New England used to be almost completely deforested before people started burning coal and oil en masse for fuel. Another buried fact courtesy of the environmental loonies.

Posted by: BIOH on July 21, 2008 10:19 AM

the lack of easy parking is what causes me to drive to the nearest large city to do my shopping. and it's why walmart and other large stores always set up in downtown urban areas. why just the other day the wife and i were driving along, clucking our tongues at all the free parking we saw around us. shameful.

Posted by: cjm on July 21, 2008 10:24 AM

ST, BIOH -- Ah, if only things were that simple: car-loving capitalistic real people and developers vs. controlling-asshole bike-riding socialistic pointy=headed profs!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2008 8:29 AM

The Amazon blurb sez:

American drivers park for free on nearly ninety-nine percent of their car trips.

I don't believe it. I think at least 5% of Americans have to rent a parking space at home, which means any trip home is not to free parking.

Consider the $billions spent on valet parking, parking at sporting events, parking at airports.

90%? Maybe. 75%? Probably. But 99%? No. Besides which, I don't think it's the low cost of parking but its availability that enables car culture.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on July 23, 2008 12:30 AM

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