Predictably Irrational Parking Politics
One of the challenges in rationally implementing higher parking fees for periods of higher occupancy is the instinctive feeling, typically by merchants, that this will hurt their business. I’m all for the plight of the small merchant but, as per John Van Horn’s usual line of thinking (e.g., this post), there’s usually a problem with this: 1.) Charging more for places where parking is dear helps create more parking, and more customers; and 2.) Those same small merchants are often the ones occupying the parking that scarce parking. This latter observation is drawn from many sources, including what’s right in front of me: The white Lexus that the guys at the pork store across the street tend to park there for hours on end (they drive in from one of the islands, Staten or Long).
This usual dynamic was on display in an article about (no) Park Slope’s recent “Smart Parking” demonstration program, as reported by my local rag:
Schaller had come to the meeting seeking feedback on the Park Smart program, which hiked parking fees last April as part of an effort to reduce traffic and create turnover at parking spots on Fifth Avenue between Sackett and Third streets, and on Seventh Avenue from Lincoln Place to Sixth Street.
But the feedback from the roughly 25 people in attendance was near-unanimous: “Don’t raise the fee!”
“Merchants are suffering,” said Irene Lo Re, the director of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “I’ve never seen a year as bad as 2009. People change their behavior over a couple of dollars — are you going to completely push us out of business?”
Couple of problems here. Merchants are suffering, indeed, but so is everyone else: There’s a recession on. Second is that given that driving in New York City is a decidedly luxury endeavor (I’ll send you my insurance bill), people driving cars shouldn’t be worrying about spending an extra 50 cents to park at peak hours — and if they are, they need to examine their finances a bit more carefully. Lastly, another way to look at this is that many people, myself included, go out of their way to avoid Park Slope for any kind of consuming activity, precisely because there is never anywhere to park.
Given all the opposition (or at least the 25 people), the program must have failed, no?
Still, Lo Re had to admit that the numbers did show that Park Smart had improved available parking in the neighborhood, thereby opening spaces for more potential customers.
A study by the city compared parking behavior before the program was implemented and November — and found that people parked for five minutes less on Fifth Avenue and nine minutes less on Seventh Avenue.
Success equals failure — only in parking.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010 at 7:31 am and is filed under Parking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.