Friday, June 15, 2012

This Week in Parking News

It was a big week for parking news, mostly because New York City issued a RFQ for operations of the city's 80,000+ parking meters.

In Rolling Stone Matt Taibbi goes unnecessarily ape shit about the New York City RFQ:

Well, Chicago isn’t alone anymore. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg in New York has decided to do his own version of the Chicago infrastructure bake sale; the city announced that it is putting up nearly 90,000 parking meters for lease. They’re expecting to get over $11 billion in upfront money from the deal, which is great news if you’re Mike Bloomberg, who gets to use that money to patch current budget holes instead of making tough cuts or raising taxes. The news is less awesome for the next half-dozen New York City mayors, or for the citizens of New York, who now will get to spend most of the 21st century grappling with its increasingly monstrous deficits with a major tributary from the city’s revenue stream shut off.
A New York parking meter deal, like the Chicago deal, would be a perfect example of the deeply cynical short-term thinking of many American politicians these days. These deals involve a sitting executive selling off a valuable piece of city property at a steep discount to private financial interests (often, to friends or campaign contributors), in order to solve a current cash flow problem that, surprise, surprise, will still be there the year after you finish spending the proceeds of your sale.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/new-york-to-repeat-chicago-s-parking-meter-catastrophe-20120613#ixzz1xtXcZIgt
Felix Salmon calms him down at Rueters and discusses dynamic pricing:

Which brings me to Matt Taibbi’s latest tirade, complaining about the idea that New York could raise as much as $11 billion by selling off its parking-meter rights. Anybody who wins this contract will have a contractual obligation to implement smart variable-pricing technologies, which will have to include apps showing where the spots are, the ability to pay by phone, and other ways of making everybody’s life easier. How is this not a good thing? Well, Taibbi’s upset that prices will rise:
Meter rates in some New York neighborhoods are already at $5 an hour. A Chicago-style price hike for fat-cat investors might leave us paying thirty bucks an hour to oil barons in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to park for dinner in the West Village.
I hate to break this to Matt, but has he seen the pricing at New York’s garages recently? Drivers would kill for the opportunity to pay $5 an hour. Matt lives in Westchester and therefore doesn’t pay New York City taxes, but he still seems to think that New York City should subsidize the cost of his jaunts in to the West Village for dinner. But even if Matt were somehow deserving of such a subsidy, which he isn’t, it’s a false economy: it might feel good to be able park for cheap, but it feels much worse to be stuck in traffic all the time. And the overwhelming majority of West Village diners manage to find a way of eating there which doesn’t involve a parking spot. Why should theysubsidize Matt’s parasitical suburban lifestyle?
New York is not Chicago, where the mayor was forced to give up all control of the parking meters in order that prices might be able to rise to their optimal level. Instead, the city will retain control of pricing philosophy, holidays, and the like, while also receiving an enormous check.


[I'm not sure where Matt Taibbi or Felix Salmon get the $11 billion figure. $11 billion is cited as part of the Chicago deal in a syndicated Business Week story. The RFQ explicitly states that the city is not looking for a large upfront payment. The city is looking for long term management of their meters but will maintain the ability to set prices and enfiorcement. I have my own opinions of the RFQ but will save them for another time. It's not terrible, nor is it likely to be transformative.]


Other parking news:
Santa Monica will now have its parking meters reset after each use, so no more finding meters with time remaining. Drivers will also not be able to re-feed the meters.

The New York Times has a video that describes some high tech meter systems. The parking segment starts around the 8:15 mark. The footage is from the IPI Conference last week.

This local story about Fort Green, Brooklyn, explains how difficult it is to alter parking policies:
The Fulton Area Businesses, the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill business improvement district, hosted its “Fulton Street Community Visioning Project” at BAM — and the first phase of the discussion showed a neighborhood divided over what an improvement even is.
Attendees broke up into groups to discuss what they want to see on the stretch between Ashland Place and Classon Avenue. Residents offered suggestions as varied as new bike lanes on Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, turning Brooklyn Technical HS’s football field into an ice rink in the winter, adding more lighting and plantings to the street, or adding some public furniture to attract public arts to the bustling street.
Others sought improvements to the long-closed greenspace in front of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
But some business owners counterintuitively opposed moves to attract more people to the already bustling street because their customers can’t find parking.
“No one in the neighborhood can find parking,” said Zuri, who owns an eponymous spa on South Portland Avenue, but declined to give her last name. “To add more seating in front of establishments is heinous.”
[One major issue for planners interested in reducing parking requirements is that the profession of planning has spent the past 60 years telling everybody that planners know exactly how many parking spaces are needed for each and every possible use. For planners to now say parking isn't required--even though it isn't--strains credulity with the public.Planners have a lot of work to do to build trust that we know what we are talking about regarding parking.]


Post a Comment