Thursday, May 29, 2008

Parking Fantasy

I've been so cranky ... undermined by a low-bore cold that will neither mature into something worth staying in bed for, or just go away so I can resume my quotidien grousing. My blogger "dashboard" is littered with unfinished posts, every one of which shares only this ... irreducible irrascibility. Can't quite see my way out of it, so I am going to fall back on a post I have written in my head many times: how to solve the parking woes.


The key to understanding parking is to see it as a natural resource which is undervalued and largely given away free. ANd it is free parking that has allowed the suburban nightmare to choke the life out of this country and turn the vast masses into giant consuming vacuum cleaners ... mommy, I want more, more, more ... so let's hop in the SUV, head to the mall, and get the country further into debt.

So parking should always cost. But such an initiative cannot be merely punitive; it must be configured such that it encourages the desired behavior, and discourages the undesired behavior. So a city like San Francisco should announce a plan that will be successively introduced over a number of years so all can prepare, and it goes like this.

Start by constructing a series of satellite parking garages. Anyone can park for free, but there is an exit charge. It is the same charge if you stay for an hour, a day, a week, or a month. Perhaps the city might have to charge minimum monthlies to prevent people from abandonning vehicles or stockpiling them.

Vehicles should be divided into types by gas mileage ... maybve five types. And the exit charge should be multiplied by the type number. So, let's say that the exit charge is $5; a monster truck is $5 x 5 = $25. A Prius is $5 x 1 = $5.

100% of profits from the operation go to public transit.

Meanwhile, the city also has to build parking meter kiosks at every corner in the city. Parking on city streets is no longer free. The principle is that any car that parks pays something when it parks. There should be three ways to be assessed: purchase a subscription that comes with a GPS device; purchase parking using your cell phone; purchase parking at the corner kiosk. Street parking whould be per hour with variations depending upon time of day. You have to set the price so that it behooves the driver to leave the car in one place for longer. So a good driver citywise is one who parks his Prius for a week then drives a little on the weekend. But someone who drives his Prius to work every day, needs to pay more than $5 a week or he is better off than the former guy. So a day of city parking should be more than a dollar. Again, there should be a multiplier based on mileage per gallon.

100% of profits from the operation go to public transit.

All of this is eminently doable given modern databases and GPS. If the city applied to this problem the same intelligence the Walmart applies to tracking its plastic consumer froth, we'd pull it off easily.

There would have to be other sorts of payoffs. People with garages would have to rent the curb which they reserve for their own use. I park in a garage, but no one is paying the city for that curb. Why does the city give that resource away for free? And every private parking lot should be required to charge people an exit charge, 80% of which goes to public transit. So it you go to Home Depot (although there is none in San Francisco), you pay the $5 to leave just as if you were parking in a city garage. And the city would have to crack down on the explosion of fraudulent handicapped parking permits; fraudulent handicapped parking costs the city millions and creates the need for far more handicapped parking spaces than are needed. I see it every day ... able bodied people with a sticker running from their car, leaving it on the street for hours. Drives me nuts.

The effect of making people pay to park on the street and to pay only when they exit from parking garages or lots would be to benefit clustering of businesses, and to reward people for walking.

That is the broad idea. More on this later. Perhaps even some photos. I promise to get out of my funk shortly and start posting something other than fevered bureaucratic yearnings.

1 comment:

T-Bird said...

some nice pix in your blog. brings back memories of the town in lived in from 1984 thru 1997.

Cheers, Will