I read there is a lack of parking in St. Paul, especially in the Midway area. Do my lying eyes deceive me? In the face of an obvious surplus of paved space, it makes me think the problem is not the lack of parking, but the lack of the right kind of parking. Some parking spaces are just no good, they are occupied by the wrong crowd, or unoccupied, or something, or cost too much, or are free, or are available only at certain times, or available at all times, or are secret, or are public, or are on-street, or off-street.
Perhaps an exclusive parking shoppe, where the spaces are carefully curated and staff can guide the parker with appropriate recommendations would be helpful. We could call it `A clean well-lighted place for cars’. The cars would be well-treated, with their choice of asphalt, concrete, or brick pavement, their drivers catered to appropriately by stylish meter maids.
Most of the discussion in this arena is just complaining to get column inches in the local newspaper by driving up the blood pressure of rabid commenters who drive page views and thus ad sales. Yet, much of it is, I suspect, a perverse form of ODD, reflexively supporting on-street parking to oppose bikes and the people who ride them, who add stress to driving (cf: war on cars).
There are several things to remember:
- There are at least 3 parking spaces in St. Paul for every car, just as in the rest of America.
- Parking ramps are long-term multi-year investments. Cars that park themselves will be on the market shortly, and driverless cars (we can’t say that, since the cars are now legally drivers) er, self-driving cars will be able to park themselves without inconveniencing the passenger with a long walk to their destination. Robot cars parking themselves can park in less space, since they don’t need to open their doors.
- The cheaper it is to drive, the more people will drive. More free parking induces demand, just like any transportation investment.
- Parking is a private good, it is both rivalrous (If I park, you cannot) and excludable (I can keep you from parking if I charge for it and enforce it). It should be profitable to charge by the use. If it is not profitable, it is not needed.
- If on-street parking were properly regulated and charged for, off-street parking minimums would be entirely unnecessary, the market could work out solutions.