Patriot-News Uncovers Glut of Severely Undervalued Property in Most US Cities

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Last week Emily Previti worked up a great data driven parking piece for Harrisburg’s P/N.

Her conclusions were:

· Harrisburg’s new ticket costs seem high.

Harrisburg’s old $14 expired meter fine ranked 32nd; the new $30 fine ranks 11th. 

Scranton, an Act 47 city with a population of more than 75,000, has the cheapest possible fine. Violators pay $1 if they pay within an hour of being ticketed; after that, the cost is $4. 

The most expensive are the $70 tickets written in Trenton, New Jersey’s state capital with a population of 89,000. That’s $5 more than New York, pop. 8.3 million.

· Harrisburg’s forthcoming parking meter rates rank even higher. The existing maximum of $1.50 ranked 11th; the forthcoming hourly cost of $3 will rank fifth. 

Only major cities charge more than $3: up to $6.50 in Chicago, $5.50 in San Francisco, and $5 in Los Angeles and New York. 

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh’s rates also run up to $3 hourly. The other 29 cities – including many larger and denser than Harrisburg – max out at $2.50. 

Detroit charges the least. A penny gets you 12 minutes in Motor City. A nickel buys one hour; a dime, two; a quarter, 10 hours. 

San Francisco charges as little as a quarter per hour, depending on the neighborhood, and as much as $5.50. That’s the widest swing, with some others charging flat rates citywide.

· Residential parking permit rates are a pretty good deal in Harrisburg.

Residents pay $30 for new or $25 to renew parking permits in Pennsylvania’s capital city. 

York’s yearly passes start at $363 and go up to nearly $900. 

Trenton charges $1,500 per year for a residential on-street pass, according to its municipal code. In Chicago, it can cost more than $1,000. 

Los Angeles issues them for as little as $15. 

Some cities – such as Boston, for example – offer them for nothing but proof of residency.

· Harrisburg’s forthcoming meter policies – 10-hour enforcement that includes Saturdays – are typical. Its present eight-hour, no-weekend enforcement is not.

Of 36 towns, just two – Tallahassee and Carson City – did not have parking meters. 

Nearly all of the rest run meters at least 10 hours on daily including Saturdays. Nine enforce all weekend and five – Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Annapolis and Austin – do so on some or all major holidays. 

Some cities run meters late on weekends, too. In Las Vegas, they go until 2 a.m. every night.

I don’t find any of this too surprising. No doubt when parking whiners and Pennlive trolls look at this they will say,” Harrisburg is a small city but we pay for parking like it’s New York!” 

What I see is a bunch of city’s all over the country, large and small that severely undervalue their street space. 

Meters may be expensive in Harrisburg relative to other cities, but the only metric that really matters to compare metered rates against is demand for the space. An appropriate market rate could easily be set for it if those city’s would not have agreed years ago that they were going to cater to cars above pedestrians and transit options by subsidizing the cost of the space they take up.

I think the ticketing rate reflects a similar trend. The function of the ticket is to enforce the payment of the cost of the space. This is a service the operator (municipal or private) provides which ensures compensation for the space used along with, ideally the car’s externalities, but also the guarantee of an available space for those who need it. Without the enforcement, spaces would not turn over, making room for new vehicles.

Residential permit costs being crazy low is another major non-surprise. This cost needs to rise. I would love a system that charges significantly more for multiple vehicles.

Extension of hours seems to be the one issue here where things are trending for the better nationwide. Running meters on nights and weekends makes perfect sense. People come to cities during non working hours to do stuff. See a play, get great cuisine, party. All of the best of that happens downtown and by pricing spaces properly any time there is demand, spaces will be conveniently available. 


This entry was posted in Miscellany.

One Response to Patriot-News Uncovers Glut of Severely Undervalued Property in Most US Cities

  1. The Scranton numbers are inaccurate. It was $10 if paid within 24 hours and $20 if not. I’m pretty sure they upped it, but I haven’t gotten a parking ticket in a year or two. :o)