Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Read The High Cost of Free Parking, STAT!


Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking (2005) is my second favorite planning book ever, behind only The Death and Life of Great American Cities. If you care about how the built environment affects the environment you have to read it, period.

From the book jacket:
"Free parking isn't really free. In fact, the average parking space costs more than the average car. Initially, developers pay for the required parking, but soon tenants do, and then their customers, and so on, until the cost of parking has diffused throughout the economy. When we shop, eat in a restaurant, or see a movie, we pay for parking indirectly because its cost is included in the price of everything from hamburgers to housing. The total subsidy for parking is staggering, about the size of the Medircare or national defense budgets. But free parking has other costs: It distorts transportation choices, warps urban form, and degrades the environment . . .

How can cities undo the damage caused wrought by their disastrous parking policies? Shoup has three answers:
  • Remove zoning requirements for off-street parking
  • Charge fair market prices for curb parking
  • Use revenue from curb parking to pay for public improvements in the neighborhoods that generate it"

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