Monday, April 04, 2016

"Ideas worth stealing: Parking benefit districts."

Or, we could institute sidewalk double parking.

Each month downtown merchants gather, and parking is always a topic of conversation. The odd part is that we haven't much of a parking problem, apart from business owners and their employees monopolizing curbside spaces that should turn over according to demand from all users.

Consequently, it comes down to one of three potential "solutions."

  • Merchants police themselves.
  • The city policies the spaces by enforcing its own code.
  • We use parking meters to regulate turnover.

Yet again, there seem to be any number of opinions, but little will to examine underlying realities as a means of understanding the issue.

I'd encourage all downtown stakeholders to at least familiarize themselves with the potential usefulness of a parking benefit district, as described here (and on numerous previous occasions).

The most important thing to remember is that this or any other City Hall will take no action unless "encouraged" to do so. Political entities prefer the status quo, and the votes they know. Unity and collective will can influence this situation.

Ideas worth stealing: Parking benefit districts, by Jon Geeting (Keystone Crossroads)

As UCLA professor Donald Shoup explained in his cult parking economics tome "The High Cost of Free Parking," some cities and downtown business associations have discovered that it's much easier, politically speaking, to introduce new parking meters or permits when the impacted areas are allowed to keep some of the revenue generated within the neighborhood to pay for extra public improvements and services.

The prospect of a dedicated, ongoing local revenue stream for neighborhood projects becomes enticing enough to residents and businesses, and they become a countervailing force in support of parking meters.

Those public improvements in turn attract even more visitors, which generates more parking revenue in a virtuous cycle of redevelopment.

In different cities, Parking Benefit Districts (PBDs) come in different shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is that they fund visible local public improvements in the places where the revenue is raised.

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