Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Such Thing As Free Parking - Well, Soon Enough That Is

I read today that Seattle's mayor is proposing higher rates for street parking citywide, extending parking meeter hours to 8 p.m. and eliminating free Sunday parking in certain areas of the city.


From my read of the situation, I think it basically boils down to:

Rational for doing this
  1. The city has a budget deficit and this is seen by the mayor and his team as a way to raise revenue on something that most people are going to keep right on doing...driving and parking.
  2. The mayor favors "green" policies and this would "incentivize" people to take public transportation or bike into downtown.
Negative consequences
  1. Any green goals will not be met as, well, see my point #1 above...people ain't gonna stop driving.
  2. In fact, people will just drive to other places to do what they need to do - such as Northgate, Southcenter, Bellevue and other locations where parking is free. This means less commerce for downtown businesses and revenue goals unrealized for the city.
  3. This is just one more thing local government is doing that runs contrary to people's sense of right and wrong - for example, raising taxes on soda pop and candy, rising tab and emission testing fees. Throw in $3 dollar a gallon gas and, well, I think people are going to get pretty ticked off at their elected officials who they see as imposing these fees on them.
Here's an idea...

Why not go the other direction and make parking FREE in downtown Seattle on the weekends? You think that might draw in more people into the city to shop, eat, drink, go to museums, stay in hotels, etc.? I do. Then, if you want to raise rates a bit for weekdays, OK. Weekday work commuters probably should be looking at alternative ways to get into the city anyway.

In any event, the mayor's proposal is just that at this point...a proposal. It may not pass, but I'm not counting on that. We'll see.

No comments: