Parking in Downtown Charlottesville is limited, and likely will get more limited when the Market Plaza is under construction and completed. Now this:
“Our present on-street free parking system is not serving the needs of the public or the businesses downtown and has acted to restrict the availability of parking downtown for most people, but especially those that that are customers of downtown business,” said Bob Stroh, co-chairman of the group.
The downtown association wants councilors to consider installing a system of kiosks that would read the license plates of vehicles parked on streets. He said that association members would be willing to help pay to install the system.
First: who’s going to controla and have access to the license plate data?
Second: Downtown Charlottesville is the economic and tourism hub of the City, and one of the hubs of the Charlottesville region. Making it harder for consumers – whether regulars or tourists – is a decidedly bad idea. Stonefield, despite its astonishingly bad layout, has some pretty good restaurants (PastureQ, Rock Salt, to name two). While my favorite restaurant is on the Downtown Mall, would I come less often if parking was more of a challenge? Maybe.
Third: My perspective is that the free parking encourages people to come and stay downtown. There’s a reason people circle. And circle. And circle. Looking for close spots – they don’t want to walk (to the pedestrian mall).
And then there’s this perspective saying that free parking is a “plague.”
On-street public parking, in contrast, is created in communal spaces and maintained by tax dollars. The instinct that common property should be accessible for free is deep-seeded; a 1937 legal challenge objected to parking meters as “a fee for the free use of the streets, which is a right of all citizens.” But that instinct is wrong. Just because something is publicly provided doesn’t mean that it should be free, or only $1.25 per hour. If a commodity is as scarce as land in Boston, we need a fair way of allocating it.
When public policy underprices things, as the Soviet Union once underpriced groceries, the result is long lines and shortages. People pay with their time, instead of their money. In Boston, the real price of seemingly cheap streetside parking also includes all the minutes drivers spend cruising around looking for it — and the congestion they create for everyone else.
UCLA transportation expert Donald Shoup has long urged that on-street parking rates be high enough to create an 85 percent occupancy rate — enough turnover to leave a spot empty almost on every block. Achieving this goal would require different meter rates in different neighborhoods, but new technologies will make it easy to set rates that change over time.
Update 10 December 2014: Interesting article from CityLab – 5 Parking Innovations Every City Should Adopt. I’d never heard of charging more for longer cars …