Chicagoist reports that the Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicagoland’s “smart-growth” top-down planning elites, is proposing to reduce the amount of “free” on-street parking by installing more meters in business districts. They also propose to raise parking meter prices:
The Metropolitan Planning Council has proposed to install more parking meters and raise meter rates in busy business districts to raise money for city services like mass transit. Under the proposal, rates would continue to rise in busy areas until drivers stop clogging the streets looking for a free spot.
This development fascinates me for a variety of reasons. I am happy to see the urban planners in my region moving toward using price signals to enable private agents to coordinate their actions and possibly to change their behavior in ways that create benefits for others. This approach may yield better results than the political approach of currying legislative favor to get taxpayer funding for public transportation, and it’s certainly more fair, in my estimation, than using taxpayer funds for public transportation.
The Metropolitan Planning Council has a commitment from the 53rd Street Business District in Hyde Park in Chicago’s 4th Ward to adopt Shoup’s strategy of increasing street meter rates.
Shoup said businesses in Pasadena initially feared that increased parking rates would deter customers but that, in fact, the revenue was used in ways that attracted customers.
“The revenue stayed in the community and was spent on upgrading sidewalks, removing graffiti and making bus stops cleaner and safer,” Shoup said.
I’m not entirely sold on this idea, but it does have some benefits relative to the traditional approach. But here’s my question: how well will this approach work in business districts that do not have parking lots or garages? I’m thinking of Wicker Park/Bucktown, or Armitage, or even my own Southport neighborhood, where we have one lot attached to a school. So you can’t use the lot during school hours, but only on evenings and weekends. The Hyde Park neighborhood is more like these neighborhoods, with limited parking lots and garages.
I think this is likely to work better in downtown suburb/exurb areas, but we shall see.