In praise of the Philadelphia Parking Authority

by pkerkstra on May 10, 2011

No, really. I mean it. To a point. My column for the Inquirer is here. Excerpt:

What if – and it pains me to write this – the Parking Authority is right and the rest of us are wrong? I’m not talking about the agency’s patronage record and exorbitant executive salaries, which are indefensible. But, rather, its view that parking, particularly in a dense urban setting such as Philadelphia, is a limited resource that should be costly and rigorously policed.

This position starts to make a lot of sense when you look at parking as a commodity like any other, instead of some sort of natural right.

Land has value. Land at, say, 18th and Walnut Streets has a ton of value. So when a driver parks a Cadillac Escalade the size of a small BYOB in an open spot in Center City, he or she really ought to be paying full market rate for the privilege.

The trouble is, the true market rate of parking has been so thoroughly obscured by government regulations and subsidies (which dwarf those for mass transit) that drivers often feel outraged even when asked to pay a relative pittance for street parking, such as the $2 an hour the PPA charges on its busiest blocks.

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