U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 02-25-2013, 05:01 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,851 times
Reputation: 217

Advertisements

Is "Free" parking really Free? Who pays for it?

(This discussion started on the CLT thread about rising gasoline prices, but some thought it was more suited for this section... and I think it might be.)

I assume you would be prepared to see the Gasoline tax rise enough that it can cover the cost of maintaining the Highways... and to see Drivers pay for their parking needs.

How about all the so-called Free Parking everywhere. Do you think it is really free, and no one pays for it?

=== QUOTE: anifani821 ===
You are very interesting to discuss this with, Geo. I appreciate your info and point of view, even though I disagree with some of your conclusions...

I don't know what you mean about "free parking." Developers should include parking into their sites, so I am either misunderstanding what you are referring to or this is a term that means something other than parking at places of business. ???

=== UNQUOTE ===

Thanks for your thoughtful response. It is very late here, but I will make a very short response:

"Free" parking is paid for by the property owners who dedicate so much of their land to cars and build paved areas for them, thinking they will lose business if the do not provide it. The landlords add the cost to their rents, and the merchants in turn add it to their selling prices. So indirectly, pedestrians and others who do not park pay for it (too), yet they get no benefit.

Last edited by Geologic; 02-25-2013 at 05:23 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 02-25-2013, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,851 times
Reputation: 217
(While I was sleeping, someone jumped in to partly support my comment):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldsmobile View Post
I'll try to defend Geologic's argument:
Theoretically, if roads are not subsidized by people who don't literally drive on them, then the cost of using those roads will be eventually passed on to the end consumer in the form of more expensive goods. So you can say that Geologic will still be paying for the roads, should he choose to consume those goods. Free market baby!

Possible side effects:
Increased consumption of local goods.
Decreased pollution
Decreased commerce activity. This is the biggest argument against Geologic's view, in my opinion. The business lobby will fight viciously against any change in the existing system.
But others remaining unconvinced that it was worth considering who pays, worried that people would lose jobs without the "free" parking:

Quote:
Originally Posted by amploud View Post
I don't understand this either. Nothing is free. Someone's paying for it.

Example: The parking at Northlake Mall isn't free. The mall customers are paying for it by shopping at stores who pay rent to the mall's ownership group. Just because there isn't a person collecting money at the entrances to the parking lot doesn't mean it is free. If Northlake started charging for parking, fewer people would go there. Fewer purchases would be made. People would lose jobs.

Policies that attempt to create incentives and disincentives for certain behavior usually create other, unforeseen incentives/disincentives. Be careful what you wish for!
I agree with this part of the comment:
"Policies that attempt to create incentives and disincentives for certain behavior usually create other, unforeseen incentives/disincentives."

My opinion: we are in the midst of coping with negative fallout from the policies that encourage building malls surrounded by a sea of parking. Many malls are going bust. I am not blaming this only on parking, but rather on the bigger urban planning concepts that led them to built where they are, and how they are (with the big "free" parking lots.)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 05:25 PM
 
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,127 posts, read 17,141,418 times
Reputation: 9980
Business owner see that have 'free' parking lots are good for business.

Look what happened to all the downtown stores when the mall's open'ed. The customers said 'why should i go down town have to fight for a space and pay for it' when I can go to that mall, park 'free' and the prices are more or less the same.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Laurentia
5,593 posts, read 6,376,484 times
Reputation: 2388
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geologic View Post
Is "Free" parking really Free? Who pays for it?
Presumably the people who commissioned and paid for the construction of the parking lot or parking garage. If they wish to provide such a service that is their choice, and as a car driver I very much appreciate it. Providing parking for free enables people to access businesses and other places with far greater ease than if no parking was provided or if parking cost me significantly. That's why parking lots and garages were created in the first place - ease of access. The same goes for any "transportation accessory", such as big stations for trains or big pedestrian malls.

As for free parking outside of the strip-mall context, I'll say that even being cognizant of the fact that the costs for free parking are made up for in other areas, I would much rather live in a city where free parking was the norm, as opposed to a city where parking expenses are sky-high and cars are routinely towed away and virtually held for ransom on impound lots.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 06:22 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,830,658 times
Reputation: 9769
It's called a cost of doing business, just like any other.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 06:27 PM
 
195 posts, read 235,456 times
Reputation: 247
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geologic View Post
"Free" parking is paid for by the property owners who dedicate so much of their land to cars and build paved areas for them, thinking they will lose business if the do not provide it. The landlords add the cost to their rents, and the merchants in turn add it to their selling prices. So indirectly, pedestrians and others who do not park pay for it (too), yet they get no benefit.
True but if the property owners do not provide free parking then most of the drivers will go to a competitor that does. This will result in less customers, and consequently higher prices.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Monmouth County, NJ & Staten Island, NY
407 posts, read 407,601 times
Reputation: 661
First post, whoohoo.. I've been lurking on these forums for quite some time, especially the urban planning...

As far as "free parking being free", I think the whole true cost thing is total bull...Businesses build parking lots when they know that the majority of their customers will arrive in private vehicles, and there's not a thing wrong with that. Honestly, if the business owner opens a pizza shop on 42nd street in midtown Manhattan, I can understand why he would choose not to provide free parking...but for the majority of areas outside of our dense cities, I can totally see the rationale behind business owners providing it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 07:29 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,416,959 times
Reputation: 6702
It's been well documented that parking is not "free."

Check out Donald Shoup's book "The Cost of Free Parking" if you want to read it straight from the world's expert in this topic. Or get the short version in Jeff Speck's recent book "Walkable City."

After you read Shoup you'll reconsider the stance that free parking is good for business. Of course it depends on location, I suppose, but in most urban environments businesses often do not benefit from "free" parking.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 07:39 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,102,417 times
Reputation: 3117
I visited a few free parking lots today in my city whose social costs are certainly being borne by the neighborhood and not the businesses.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-25-2013, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,068 posts, read 16,081,530 times
Reputation: 12641
Seattle the streetcar used to be free. Even now that it's not, business in the area pay higher taxes as a special tax district was setup to pay for the Streetcars construction and operation. The customers who walk, drive, take the bus, road a bicycle, took light rail (other than the Streetcar), all pay for it in the form of higher prices without getting any benefit of the $25.7 million dollars in financing generated from the tax on the Local Improvement District. Parking garages cost (land + construction) around $25,000 per spot to build, so they could have built a ~1,000 car parking garage and charged really low rates (maybe $1/hour to cover operation costs). The streetcar gets about 2,000 riders a day, probably about what a 1,000 car parking garage could get. The Streetcar, on the other hand, gets an additional ~$650,000 each year from Seattle tax payer with Metro King County (the tax payer) picking up the net of the remaining 75% less fare revenue. Last I was following it, the Streetcar had to be lent $3.65 million of Seattle funds to meet operation expenses, which certainly hasn't been paid back as it doesn't generate anywhere near that in fares. The actual operating cost is around $2.2 million a year, of which around 50-60% is projected to be generated from fares and advertising or around $1 million in tax payer funds from Seattle and Metro King County.

Turning to the suburbs where free parking is routinely provided, land + construction costs are around $3,000 per spot. So an 8500 car parking lot could be built for the same funds as provided by the Local Improvement District. Assuming each spot gets used only once per day (they generally way overbuild the lots so they have plenty of parking even during the holiday shopping season), that's more than four times as many people benefiting as from the Local Improvement District funds if parking lots are built. On going costs might be $100 per spot per year, so an annual cost of $850,000.

Either way, there's no such thing as free lunch. Transit is just a much more expensive lunch than parking, and one covered by the tax payer rather than private businesses. If private businesses want to offer free parking, it's really none of my business. I'll just take my business elsewhere if I find it objectionable. When the government wants to pay for a freelunch, then it's our business. The more expensive Streetcar lunch does make some sense. The direct expense to Seattle's budget is down from $2 million per year to about $500,000 a year, projected to shrink to about $350,000 a year by 2019. Building parking in the South Lake Union neighborhood, especially cheap parking, would be a terrible idea as there's too much traffic into downtown Seattle as it is as well. The last thing Seattle wants to do is encourage more people to drive into SLU, but suburbs generally don't have congestion problems. They still shouldn't get into subsidizing something that the free market does a perfectly adequate job of providing, however.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top