Philadelphia City Council is set to vote on an increase in the residential parking permit fee proposed by the Parking Authority. The increase would take the parking fee from a scandalously low $20 to a still-meager $35 per year, and according to the PPA, this increase still wouldn’t even cover the cost of administering the parking permit program. Residential parking is subsidized, in other words, and will still be subsidized under the proposed hike. Consider that in far less walkable Easton, PA, an annual residential parking permit costs $100. Philly’s permits should cost at least that much annually.
The wisdom of subsidizing car ownership is highly dubious in a walkable, transit-oriented city whose narrow streets were designed before the age of mass car ownership, and where car ownership has recently been on the decline, but unfortunately this issue remains a political third rail.
Perhaps the other change PPA proposed can be an opening to chip away at the political consensus for subsidized parking – an increase in the permit fee for multiple-car owners. Blogger Michael Noda makes an impassioned case for the graduated permit fee below. It would be a big step in the right direction if even the concept of a graduated fee passed, but this is still far too low. I’d do $100 for the first car, $500 for the second car, and $2000 for each additional car. If you own two cars, you’re rich compared to most Philadelphians, so this would be a very progressive way to raise money for public services:
In a remarkable coincidence, this week City Council’s Streets Committee took up the issue of raising the cost of parking permits. Today, an RPP costs $35 for the first year, and $20 in every subsequent year. This new bill would raise that cost to a flat $35 for the first car registered at a household. A second car registered to the same unit will be $50, a third car $75, and any additional cars after that would be $100. PPA asked for the hikes because it says the revenue collected from permits now does not cover the cost of administering the permit program.
Now, that may seem like a fairly dramatic hike, but again, those numbers are all annual fees. Even at the $100 level, that works out to $0.27/day, which would not even get you 10 minutes in a typical Center City metered spot. Also, that $100 is for four or more cars at one residence. If you are keeping more than three cars on the streets of your neighborhood, and those cars are not somehow generating revenue (out of which you can pay your pennies for a permit), then You. Are. An. Asshole. And the extra $65/year you pay, over what those of us with only one car pay, is your Asshole Tax, which you are paying to our broke city (and stingy Commonwealth) for the privilege of being an asshole.
It sure as heck isn’t a lot of money, either for you individually, or in aggregate for the PPA. It’s sure as heck not market price for the 300 square feet of land your car occupies. It’s rarely a Shoupian market-clearing price for parking; it might be in Francisville, but it’s definitely not in Fishtown. If $35/year, or $100/year is really the difference between your car being financially viable or not, then you are close enough to the edge that you probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place.
· Council looking to raise PPA permit fees from negligible to trifling [Sic Transit Philadelphia]