I do not often agree with Edward Glaeser, author of Triumph of the City, but I certainly do here as he writes in the Boston Globe about the cost of parking, whether on the street or when required in new buildings.
The drivers, who get to take up 200 square feet of road for their empty car, seem to complain every time a bike rack or lane might impinge on their turf that they get mostly for free. Glaeser is talking about Boston but the same is true everywhere:
Minimum-parking requirements are a second wrong that doesn’t make a right. The original wrong is that we’ve never charged automobiles properly for using city streets, either for driving or parking.
If you give a valuable resource away for free, the inevitable result is overuse and crowding. In the old Soviet Union, groceries sold eggs and butter at near-free prices, and therefore shoppers faced long lines and empty shelves. In modern Massachusetts, on-street parking is available at low or no cost, and therefore drivers can’t find a parking spot. Low parking costs also ensure there are more drivers congesting the roads.
Reducing (or eliminating) minimum parking requirements is one of those unusual cases where the ardent environmentalist and the libertarian economist see eye-to-eye. The libertarian believes that fewer regulations mean more homes and a more affordable Boston. The environmentalist wants fewer cars in Boston. Both causes are just.
More in the Boston Globe