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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cheap Parking Vs. Expensive Parking

There's a divergence of opinions in today's 'Opinion' section of the Spokesman-Review. First I found this letter from a gentleman from Coeur d'Alene angry about having to pay for parking (and in his defense $40 IS pretty stiff for parking in downtown Spokane):

Finding a place to park at the recent “Get Motivated” seminar was almost impossible. But if you were lucky enough to get a spot, the price could be steep.

At 9:30 a.m., it seemed every place was either filled or blocked off. I circled the Arena two or three times, and then out of the corner of my eye saw a space at the YMCA facility. The gate was down and Lady Luck was on my side.

I returned at 4 p.m., only to see a blocking exit bar. There must be a mistake. I pushed the “help” button and was told to read the screen. It was $40 for a six-hour period. I couldn’t believe it. The situation was akin to a predator setting a trap for its prey. I had an appointment to make so a credit card cleared the way. Would I go back to the Arena for a similar event? As Poe’s Raven said, “Never more.”

Bill Fitzgerald
Coeur d’Alene


Then I came on this Smart Bombs article about how free parking is bad for our country. The article talks about how the prospect of a cheap parking space compels many drivers to methodically circle downtown streets in search of a metered space. This increases congestion, wastes fuel and makes downtowns less inviting. Not to mention that high parking prices encourage many people to use public transit rather than pay the going price.

So what's your take? Cheap parking to encourage people to come downtown and shop, thus increasing tax dollars and improving the local economy or steeper parking prices to reduce congestion and encourage commuters to use public transit? I'm obviously playing devil's advocate here.

4 comments:

Chris Bosley said...

Though it's not a popular opinion to have around here, I'm all for metered parking for the benefits you describe. I read a study that suggested raising parking fees until you have 25% open parking spaces at all times. Then, if a person is willing to pay for parking, they have a spot readily available. If they are not, they might choose to ride transit or a bicycle.

KMPO Staff said...

Hmmm... that's interesting Chris. I hadn't heard about that study, will have to look it up. I have heard though that the drive alone rate for commuters in Washington, D.C. is only about 20% because parking prices are between $40 and $60 PER DAY, which encourages a lot of people to find another way to get to work rather than driving by themself.

Terry Harris said...

Notwithstanding the mass transit price-point economics, another consideration in this region is the egregious use (and overuse) of prime real estate for parking.

Parking is hugely oversupplied, open space is much more likely to be asphalt than green, and opportunity costs are enormous.

Take Coeur d'Alene's Independence Point lot and 4th street lots. Please.

KMPO Staff said...

I just had that discussion with a local media member yesterday Terry. There are parking lots with some pretty fabulous views around here. That's some pretty high priced land to put a parking lot on. Even if it's not possible to use those locations for green spaces, you would think the owners would want to bank on the location by putting something else in rather than a parking lot.

Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Kootenai County, Idaho. Federal law requires urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people to have an MPO. KMPO was formed in 2003, to provide coordinated transportation planning within Kootenai county for the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and the Coeur d'Alene tribe.

KMPO's Board of Directors oversees KMPO for Kootenai County, ID. KMPO's Executive Director and Staff are responsible for day-to-day operational and administrative needs.