You can now read and comment on more local news on my Facebook page. (Friend me at http://nando.com/tx)
Last week I posted a link to staff writer Jim Wise’s story on Ninth Street parking (DN, http://nando.com/v3) and wrote:
Here’s what some of you said:
If the true cost of parking space was paid by the person parking what might we see? Empty parking spaces. When tolls are charged for expensive new highways what do we see? Empty highways. When gasoline taxes are increased to reflect the cost of roads we drive on what do we get? Angry letters to the editor.
Maybe we would be better served if we all walked to our destinations. That might relieve traffic and parking concerns and narrow our enormous American butts.
The burden should fall on both to maximize limited resource awareness. Parking generates costs that are not apparent by use, and everyone seems to take free parking for granted. Besides the actual real estate involved, there is the maintenance, the extra storm-water management required, the opportunity loss for the street trees and water table recharging. There is opportunity loss for tax revenue, as tax revenue covers buildings and human activity, not dead space. There is opportunity loss for not using and developing a frequent and extensive bus service, and there is the cost to pedestrians, and in the local AC bills, from extra heat radiating into the micro-climate, as a black surface in the summer sun that makes it more unbearable.
The only gain we have is for the merchants nearby who gain business revenue, which is reason enough for them to to cover all of these external costs to the wider community. There should be parking for all forms of transportation, too. There should always include ample handicapped spaces, bicycle and scooter parking, and benches at bus stops.
If the community is serious about becoming a greener and creating more comfortable pedestrian/customer ambiance, while also boosting business, then there should be a combination of a “parking lot tax” on nearby businesses and a “user fee tax” for those who are using the parking. Car owners will not linger, and long-term parking users will choose more remote “free” locations, if they are paying for parking so every space gets frequent use, which increases business revenue as customers use and share the limited resource that parking is.