Yesterday there was a great post about coupon parking, and how it can be used in parking critical areas to make use of an entire street’s built parking infrastructure instead of using only permits to exclude people from using the spaces.
The economics of most markets look similar to the following chart, as price rises, more products will be made, but fewer will be bought, thus always bringing the price and quantity of the product in question to a balance.
But in parking, the supply is fixed (thus the vertical supply bar), and in most neighborhoods there is a surplus of parking, even when it is free (to the park-er).
In neighborhoods near popular areas (Minneapolis zones) the chart looks much more like this, with there being more demand for parking, when it is free, than there is demand. Thus the dashed line beyond the supply bar.
Dealing with this using permits leads to a discrimination against people who don’t live in the area. Excluding them from the marketplace makes the entire system less efficient as resources are not used. (Note to economist readers, while the value of the parking space might not be highest for those who live in the area, this would be the best case scenario for this style of solution).
This solution to the issue of parking can help keep property values higher for a city and maintain the American ideal of easy parking for those areas that have high intensity uses nearby.
Metering all these streets may also seem like a solution, but setting meter prices correctly is difficult and hinders the American ideal of cheap parking by residences. This would lower property values and tax rolls. Some might have said that this solution is ugly or expensive to collect, but the new parking meters in Saint Paul and Minneapolis can correct this by having less intrusive posts and fewer collection sites.
While placing meters may be feasible, to protect property values and keep the status quo of a midwestern city’s parking availability, and maintaining the current permit system, meters should not be the only solution, but also be mixed with permits.
By mixing these approaches (or using coupons), we can create a more equitable and economically efficient parking system for the on-street parking we have already built.