Thursday, October 13, 2005

Free Parking

"Free Parking" is too vague to ever discuss in these situations
with any prospect of agreement. Think about what each of the words
individually and combined mean to each interested party. Free to whom?
Parking or amenity? Bundled cost or subsidy or business investment?
Tax dodge? Cost of doing business? Then we get to the current
subspecies; education. Boston College or UMass Boston? Different?
Holy Cross? Is on street parking a violation of Church and State?

Look; parking is paid for. It cannot remain "free" for long to the
users or payers no matter who is paying or using.

There's no such thing as free parking (with one exception noted below).
Adequate bundled transportation infrastructure. I'm not just picking
nits with the phrase. Free parking is inaccurate on many levels. As
I've tried to say in other posts there's a case for what some are
calling free parking to actually be called non-parker parasitism. We
don't need perfect reasoning because the accidental market arrives at
the same result through brute force methods that produce local maximums.
If we were able to inhibit political meddling global maximums would
equally result. I am astounded by people who deny the obvious evidence.
The giant parking lot at the Costco is why gin is 50% cheaper inside.
Without the parking, the cachement area for potential customers shrinks
faster than overhead. No more Beefeaters 1.75l gin in pallet quantities
and next thing you know its' back to the corner package store (aka
bottle shop) and higher prices. For the readers with more respect for
their livers feel free to substitute the commodity item of preference.
Anyone who makes the claim of free parking is only identifying
themselves as being unfamiliar with the subject. And the exception?
Transit park-n-rides. Ample free parking is an absolutely necessary
bundled cost of modern efficient economic activities. Think Vegas,
Ontario Mills, Disneyland. This is the fatal flaw of NURB. Pleasant
places that conform to their dogmas and with a vital economic base are
mutually exclusive goals. Exactly, free parking exists only in one
place; Transit. Amazing that the only truly free parking is also the
one that transit advocates support. It seems to me that "free parking"
is is the new version of pickled eggs and sandwiches at the saloon in
order to sell beer. Imagine how much more "revitalized" "downtown" Los
Angeles would be if the money poured into the big red hole had gone
towards parking subsidies instead. This is directly applicable to my
situation. Having just received my season tickets for the Hollywood
Bowl I look forward to riding the LAMTA's only profitable service. Bus
#653 from Chatsworth Station to the Bowl and back; $5. Cheap, fast,
convienient and wickedly efficient by every measure. Just don't tell
the BRU that it has the most non-hispanic non-black ridership in the
county. Probably the fastest regular bus service in the nation as well.
I've seen 85 on the speedo. Point being that Chatsworth parking is free
and despite the highest fares in the LAMTA system it is still a bargain
because of this.
I would like to make the case for the financial -benefits- of free
parking. The interesting thing I find is the inside out economics of
Walmart and big box or megamall skeptics. Their model is to increase
cachement areas in order to keep prices lower. That means that
traditional mom & pop walkup customers are only getting lower prices
BECAUSE of the parking lot not IN SPITE OF the parking lot. Of course
SoCal is the original large cachement model so it was a big suprise to
Sam Walton and the Smith Bros (grocery) when their big boxes weren't
dominant. Luckily for them (but not for the General area) both went to
Oxanrd and got city deals so generous that their poor performance
wasn't detrimental to their corporate bottom lines.
Then there's the "Snout House" aka attached two car garage controversy.
This is nothing more than a failure of planning. Some of us like baths,
some like showers, some like both. The mega-bathroom retreat/spa is
more evidence of cocooning. One factor driving this trend is an ongoing
shift to owning luxury rather than communal sharing. And some of that
is the increasing barriers to mobility. Who wants to fight traffic and
then find a parking space just to go to the gym? The same money can pay
for a well equipped home gym. Provided you have the space. Thus homes
are getting larger. Making cocooning easier. All that "stuff" needs an
SUV to take home from the Walcostdepot but congestion makes it
impractical for daily travel, so two vehicles and a correspondingly
bigger driveway. Bad transportation decisions result in snout houses.
I thought the connections were obvious.

Ample employee parking increases corporate efficiency and attracts
better employees from a larger potential pool of candidates. There's
even an argument that inadequate parking is anti-family and
anti-social. And just in case you might begin to broach the subject
that employees are unaware of the "benefit" they are earning try to
imagine if the Employee of the Month had his regular parking revoked in
appreciation. The fact that a special parking place is considered a
reward indicates employees are more aware of their own internal
economic self interest than the misguided authors of the "eliminate
subsidized parking" proposals. Free indeed.

1 comment:

Seb said...