[Marxism] A Meter So Expensive, It Creates Parking Spots -- in the City by the Bay
giobon at comcast.net
Fri Mar 16 12:14:43 MDT 2012
A Meter So Expensive, It Creates Parking Spots
[Just think--if they make parking meters $100.00 per hour--how many
more parking spaces there would be for the 1/10th of the One Percent!
Why not make it illegal for any person earning less than a million
dollars a year to park anywhere in the city--then fine them their
yearly pay if their car is found parked on the street; put them in
jail if they can't pay their fine; and then to work without pay as
prison labor! My oh my what creative thinkers these people are! Way
to go to create parking spaces in this congested city! ...Bonnie
By MICHAEL COOPER and JO CRAVEN McGINTY
March 15, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — The maddening quest for street parking is not just a
tribulation for drivers, but a trial for cities. As much as a third
of the traffic in some areas has been attributed to drivers circling
as they hunt for spaces. The wearying tradition takes a toll in lost
time, polluted air and, when drivers despair, double-parked cars that
clog traffic even more.
But San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious
experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one
empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The
program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand,
raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded blocks and
lowers it on its emptiest blocks. While the new prices are still
being phased in — the most expensive spots have risen to $4.50 an
hour, but could reach $6 — preliminary data suggests that the change
may be having a positive effect in some areas.
Change can already be seen on a stretch of Drumm Street downtown near
the Embarcadero and the popular restaurants at the Ferry Building.
Last summer it was nearly impossible to find spots there. But after
the city gradually raised the price of parking to $4.50 an hour from
$3.50, high-tech sensors embedded in the street showed that spots
were available a little more often — leaving a welcome space the
other day for the silver Toyota Corolla driven by Victor Chew, a
salesman for a commercial dishwasher company who frequently parks in
“There are more spots available now,” said Mr. Chew, 48. “Now I don’t
have to walk half a mile.”
San Francisco’s parking experiment is the latest major attempt to
improve the uneasy relationship between cities and the internal
combustion engine — a century-long saga that has seen cities build
highways and tear them down, widen streets and narrow them, and make
more parking available at some times and discourage it at others, all
to try to make their downtowns accessible but not too congested.
The program here is being closely watched by cities around the
country. With the help of a federal grant, San Francisco installed
parking sensors and new meters at roughly a quarter of its 26,800
metered spots to track when and where cars are parked. And beginning
last summer, the city began tweaking its prices every two months —
giving it the option of raising them 25 cents an hour, or lowering
them by as much as 50 cents — in the hope of leaving each block with
at least one available spot. The city also has cut prices at many of
the garages and parking lots it manages, to lure cars off the street.
It is too early to tell whether the program is working over all, but
an analysis of city parking data by The New York Times found signs
that the new rates are having the desired effect in some areas. While
only a third of the blocks in the program have hit their targeted
occupancy rates in any given month since the program began, the
analysis found, three-quarters of the blocks either hit their targets
or moved closer to the goal. The program has been a bit more
successful on weekdays.
Of course, price is only one factor that influences behavior. About a
fifth of the time prices rose but more spaces filled up, or prices
fell but fewer people parked. And the full effects of the phased-in
price changes have yet to be felt, because the most expensive spots
cannot hit the $6-an-hour maximum until next year at the earliest.
Jay Primus, who manages the program for the San Francisco Municipal
Transportation Agency, said city was trying to reduce traffic and
pollution and make parking easier — and not just to raise revenues.
“We only need a few people to see there is a price difference and
choose to park in a different location to open up just a few spaces
here and there,” he said.
Meters here can now charge different prices at different times of the
day, and the city has lengthened or eliminated time limits. Since the
city made it easier to pay for parking with credit cards, and began a
program that allows people to find spots and pay for them on their
mobile phones — so they no longer have to run out of meals to feed
the meters — fewer parking tickets have been issued.
The program is the biggest test yet of the theories of Donald Shoup,
a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los
Angeles. His 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” made him
something of a cult figure to city planners — a Facebook group, The
Shoupistas, has more than a thousand members. “I think the basic idea
is that we will see a lot of benefits if we get the price of curbside
parking right, which is the lowest price a city can charge and still
have one or two vacant spaces available on every block,” he said.
But raising prices is rarely popular. A chapter in Mr. Shoup’s book
opens with a quote from George Costanza, the “Seinfeld” character:
“My father didn’t pay for parking, my mother, my brother, nobody.
It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay when, if I apply
myself, maybe I can get it for free?” Some San Francisco
neighborhoods recently objected to a proposal to install meters on
streets where parking is now free. And raising prices in the most
desirable areas raises concerns that it will make them less
accessible to the poor.
That was on the minds of some parkers on Drumm Street, where the
midday occupancy rate on one block fell to 86 percent from 98 percent
after prices rose. Edward Saldate, 55, a hairstylist who paid nearly
$17 for close to four hours of parking there, called it “a big rip-off.”
Tom Randlett, 69, an accountant, said that he was pleased to be able
to find a spot there for the first time, but acknowledged that the
program was “complicated on the social equity level.”
Officials note that parking rates are cut as often as they are
raised. And Professor Shoup said that the program would benefit many
poor people, including the many San Franciscans who do not have cars,
because all parking revenues are used for mass transit and any
reduction in traffic will speed the buses many people here rely on.
And he imagined a day when drivers will no longer attribute good
parking spots to luck or karma.
“It will be taken for granted,” he said, “the way you take it for
granted that when you go to a store you can get fresh bananas or
Michael Cooper reported from San Francisco, and Jo Craven McGinty
from New York. Malia Wollan contributed reporting from San Francisco.
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