Planners have known for decades that minimum parking requirements and underpriced curb parking destroy the urban fabric and housing affordability, but they haven’t had a political program to change that. You have a powerful group of vocal, organized stakeholders demanding plentiful free curb parking on one side, and on the other side…???
But as I explain in my debut post at hot new Philly urbanism blog This Old City, Parking Benefit Districts are the most promising way to change this dynamic:
In a Parking Benefit District, residents of the neighborhood can continue to get parking permits as usual to park for free, but the neighborhood’s curb spaces get parking meters, and non-permit holders have to feed the meter. The money raised from the parking meters stays in the neighborhood, like in a Business Improvement District, and pays for neighborhood amenities and services like street sweeping, corner trash cans, facade improvements, sidewalk repairs, street trees, block parties, etc.
This completely changes the parking politics by turning the recipients of these benefits into advocates for parking charges, and for developments that increase the demand for curb parking, and the meter money yield.
If allowing a big car-free apartment building to get built down on the corner means more people feeding the meters, that translates into more block parties, better facades, and better commercial corridors. Some people will still oppose new developments, but they’ll have to face down the people and businesses who want all that stuff the parking money will pay for.