Chart of the Day: Distribution of Parking Revenue

This is a chart from Donald Shoup’s parking tome, The High Cost of Free Parking.


Here’s Shoup’s explanation [from Chapter 12]:

Consider the lower left corner, which represents the current situation in almost every city: all curb parking revenue goes into the general fund and nothing goes to the neighborhoods. … Because everyone objects to paying for parking, and no one sees a direct benefit from the revenue, no one supports the idea of charging for cub parking … No consider the upper right corner, which represents the situation where cities return all curb parking revenue to the neighborhoods that generate it. No one wants to pay for parking — that will never change — but residents begin to think like landlords, not tenants, and they agree to form parking benefit districts that charge nonresidents for parking. Business owners also form Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) that use the curb parking revenue to finance public improvements in commercial areas. Because neighborhoods receive the revenue, citizens demand market prices for their curb parking, which in this example yields $100 million a year in new public revenue.

Think of downtown Saint Paul or Uptown Minneapolis, and you get the picture.

3 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Distribution of Parking Revenue

  1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    We need to stop directing parking revenue towards general funds. This is one of Shoup’s three primary principles, returning it to neighborhood-level investment.

    Speaking of parking, which is a hot-button issue here on today, there’s an upcoming discussion regarding parking at/near Minnehaha Park. Parks are made for parking, right?

    Anyways, consider stopping by if you live near, recreate at, or contemplate the wellbeing of Minnehaha Park.

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  3. mnjimn

    Speaking of parking revenue, I work and walk the area of downtown near 3rd and Washington Ave S quite a bit and I constantly see vehicles parked on the street with placards in their windows noting their “exemption” to parking meters. There are often more “free” parkers than paying customers in this area. There are a lot of government agencies in the area so I commonly see placards for MPD, HC Sheriff, FBI, DEA, BCA, Homeland Security, and others.

    I’m curious if these lost revenues are recovered in some way by the city. Does each agency contract with the city based on how many vehicle placards they have? Why aren’t they contracting with parking ramps like many large downtown businesses. Or do we just let them park for free. If so, why?

    To be clear, I understand the need for some law enforcement vehicles to need quick street parking access, but the sheer number of vehicles in the area parking for free I have a hard time believing they all need that access.

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