The Atlantic Cities reported Tuesday that parking spots do not belong to the people who live near them, despite popular opinion to the contrary. In the past, I’ve called this idea “parking welfare” because people expect the government to give them free, taxpayer-funded parking on the street.
Author A-P Hurd calls this situation illogical, then suggests that cities allow people to do other, more creative things with “their” parking spots:
Given that people do have this relationship with the parking spot in front of their house, what if we enabled them to do something other than park there? Some compact neighborhoods have taken to putting bike corrals or patios in parking spots, provided a reasonable percentage of the neighbors agree.
Hurd goes on to suggest other ideas as well:
What if cities allowed residential blocks to apply to convert those parking lanes to whatever they wanted to, including cottages, bike lanes, extra garden space, public p-patches or dedicated car-share parking? Even better, what if our cash-strapped cities started monetizing the value in those two lanes and allowing neighborhoods to do whatever they wanted (including parking there) as long as they rented out the space, and generally agreed on a plan? The drive lanes in the middle of the street would be conserved, we might find ourselves with more neighborhood parks, or perhaps more little cottages permeating the urban fabric.
Hurd’s take on the issue clearly stems from a similar assumption that I’ve had in posts about converting street space to housing: that we have too much city-owned pavement wasting money.
I prefer the idea of turning that space into dwellings, but Hurd’s suggestions also include options that would obviously be cheaper, faster, and more politically palatable.
Either way, however, it’s important to recognize that free street parking is a form of government assistance, as well as an incentive for certain types of development.