Is Free Parking a Subsidy?

The city of Seattle thinks so, and is proposing to lower the requirement for off-street parking that must accompany multi-family housing units. Cascadia Scorecard Weblogger Alan Durning thinks this is, at minimum, a step in the right direction:

Parking is the automobiles’ Achilles heel. Only massive subsidies and regulatory requirements keep parking so abundant that it’s free to drivers in most locations, as Donald Shoup has documented in devastating detail. Free parking comes with high costs: to communities, to governments, to pedestrians, to retail stores, to nature, and to future generations.

All Mayor Nickels has proposed is a modest reduction in the degree of legally-mandated subsidization, and only in three urban neighborhoods. Developers are still free to build more off-street parking, if that’s what their condo-buying customers prefer.

My own view is that off-street parking requirements should not be reduced; they should be eliminated. Parking is a private good, not a public good. So the market, not government, should decide how much off-street parking to provide. My argument for this policy is here.

Technorati tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *