Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No such thing as free parking

The image above is a satellite image of downtown Portland, with surface parking lots (solid red) and parking garages (shaded red). Congress Street runs diagonally through the picture. This does not include on-street parking or parking garages that occupy the first level of larger office buildings (like One City Center).

Consider these quick facts:

  • The construction cost of one parking spot in an above-ground garage is $20,000. The land cost for one surface parking spot is about $2,500.
  • The City of Portland provides hundreds of acres of rent-free real estate for automobile storage on its streets. Many of the city's homeless live in cars, because Portland has reserved much more of its land and money for free parking than for affordable housing.
  • Portland taxpayers, businesses, and consumers pay the true costs of parking. Commuters from Standish, Windham, and other outlying communities generally don't pay for them, even though they use the majority of parking infrastructure.
  • It needs further research, but it's my educated guess that subsidies for free parking exceed subsidies for affordable housing by one or two orders of magnitude.

    It comes down to this: like almost every city in the nation, Portland has Socialized Parking. Every developer who wants to do business in the city has to meet Stakhanovite parking production quotas. From each taxpayer according to his means, to each motorist according to his auto-addiction.

    Click the link above to learn more about the book The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup.

    John Brooking said...

    Sorry, Christian, you'll have to explain "Stakhanovite". That's too esoteric for my computer science education.

    C Neal said...

    Here's Wikipedia's explaination. It doesn't have any sources or citations, but it's in line with my understanding of the Stakhanovite movement. Besides that, the Soviets were never that big on honest sources or citations, so why shouldn't Wikipedia be an authority?