Pay for LOVE Park Redesign With Its Own Parking Tax Revenue

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Selling the garage under Philadelphia’s LOVE park is a very good idea, but if the price a garage company is willing to pay for it won’t cover the cost of rebuilding the park, there’s an easy solution: raise the parking tax.

Philly’s parking tax rate is a scandalously low 20% – half of Pittsburgh’s awesome 40% rate. Philly’s tax should be at least 40% too, since our transit system is better and our city’s more walkable. And it especially makes sense if we want our “public bads” to give us more money for actually legitimate public goods.

Why can’t we just raise the parking tax and then earmark all the revenue city gets from the newly private garage to pay for the LOVE Park upgrade?

I also don’t see why this couldn’t be applied to other city parks (and retail corridors).

I never see parking meters next to public parks here and that’s just crazy. How do you spend public money building and maintaining a nice city park, which we know adds a ton of value to the surrounding private parcels, and then not charge for parking around it? In most cases, city doesn’t even think the sidewalk is part of the park, let alone the curb parking. There is money just leaking out of these public amenities that we ought to be capturing to pay for maintenance.

Also, guess who gets to the neighborhood park by car? Not poor people! Metering all the city’s parkside curb spaces and using the money for park maintenance would be a very distributionally progressive pay-for, in addition to being good land use and environmental policy.

This entry was posted in Economy, Environment, Land Use, Transportation.

8 Responses to Pay for LOVE Park Redesign With Its Own Parking Tax Revenue

  1. Tim says:

    “Also, guess who gets to the neighborhood park by car? Not poor people!”

    I think you’re off the mark here. Our parks tend to be concentrated in wealthier areas, so it’s poor people traveling farther to get to parks – and yes, sometimes they drive.

    You should all the cars parked around Penn Treaty Park on a regular summer Saturday. These folks aren’t driving from their $400k townhomes – those are located around the corner. People are driving in from Port Richmond and Kensington in search of park space.

    None of this is to say we shouldn’t meter street parking in high demand areas (whether parks or commercial strips or whatever) but this isn’t an untapped source of progressive taxation.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Truly poor people don’t own cars. Cars are very expensive.

      • Tim says:

        I don’t want to argue about arbitrary definitions of poor unless we’re going to dig through the data on both household income and household car ownership.

        You’re making the point that metering parking spaces around parks would impose greater costs on rich folks than poor folks. I think it’s the opposite, because parks tend to be concentrated in the wealthier areas of town, so the people driving in are poorer than the people walking.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          That’s certainly possible. I’m just saying that car owners are on average richer than non-car owners, so a tax paid by motorists is a progressive tax. Definitely more progressive than the sales tax, or the actual incidence of some of the other city business taxes. If the alternative is paying for parks and street improvements out of the current revenue mix that funds the general budget, that’s more regressive than funding a bigger slice of those budgets with parking charges and taxes.

  2. Gdub says:

    I confess I don’t really get the comment about “truly poor” and what they do or don’t own, since it isn’t factually based.

    Most people in poverty have a car–for good reasons you often point out, we should make it easier to live without one, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t owned.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Last I checked, about 35% of Philadelphians don’t own cars. Those aren’t all poor people obviously but the majority are poor. Poorer than the people who own cars.

  3. Gdub says:

    I also agree that the majority of people that don’t own cars may be poor, however, most studies show that about 1/2 to 2/3 own a car (a necessity for many to get to work)

    • Jon Geeting says:

      So this is the problem I have with the 99% vs 1% frame. I know you aren’t especially fond of that either, but some people have this idea that any tax not paid exclusively by super rich people is a bad regressive tax. I’m more about the 70% vs the 30%. Motorists as a group are richer than non-motorists, even if a large minority of motorists are poor. Generally we should use the proceeds of taxes on motorists to pay for things that make it easier to live without a car.