>Where to Spend the Parking Money

>

Dr. Shoup argues that the best use of parking meter revenue is to spend it locally on sidewalks and the pedestrian environment to improve physical appearance and walking conditions.  With that in mind, I took a short tour to document potential infrastructure repairs near the Navy Yard that should be paid for using the money from parking meters.  The whole tour is available as a set on flickr.

Street Trees

Here’s an example of new street trees in boxes or grates, courtesy Mr T in DC on flickr.  This is South Capitol Street at Nationals Stadium, newly completed a couple months before the photo was taken in June 2008:

From my tour, here’s some examples of street trees and boxes in need of repair or replacement.  Click for full image:

Sidewalk Problems

Next, let’s look at some sidewalk issues.  First, here’s what modern sidewalk and curbs are supposed to look like:

Wide curb cut ramps with texture for wheelchair grip, clearly marked crosswalks, no cracks, no weeds, no grass.  Now let’s look at some conditions “on the ground”.  First, the worst of it:

Poor Utility Construction

Next, we’ll take a look at some places where a utility connection has been repaired, and rather than restoring the sidewalk to its original brick construction, the contractor just slapped down some asphalt.

There are more photos on the full tour, but this last photo was my favorite.  It looks like whomever was building this sidewalk either ran out of time or bricks and just decided to throw the last few brick pieces in with some asphalt and go get margaritas:

I’m going to work with DDOT to find out how much approximate repair costs are for the kinds of items I found.  I suspect that it’s going to be on the same order of magnitude as the parking revenue generated, based on the success of other cities in using parking meter revenue to fix broken sidewalks.  Unfortunately for the sidewalks, until the $10,000 multispace meter is paid for, only 20% of the revenue can go to non-automobile transportation improvements in the pilot zone (PDF).  After the meters are paid for, it’s 75%.  20% of the meter revenue always goes to the general fund.

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About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
This entry was posted in cars, cycling, development, economics, environment, government, parking, pedestrian, politics, shoup, street, tax, transit, trees, walking. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to >Where to Spend the Parking Money

  1. Michael says:

    >Sounds good. I think Tommy Wells was discussing that idea. See Greater Greater Washington for the post. Advantage is that bike racks are pretty inexpensive to purchase and install, and are a visible reminder of the value of your parking money at work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >Thanks for looking out for the “common pedestrian”. I can not wait to enjoy our new parking-funded sidewalks. They can’t come soon enough! I am so sick of tripping over recessed areas and raised bricks in sidewalks when I stroll through DC.By-the-way, when are you going to run for office? I’d vote for ya’ in a heartbeat!

  3. Anonymous says:

    >Thanks for looking out for the “common pedestrian”. I can not wait to enjoy our new parking-funded sidewalks. They can’t come soon enough! I am so sick of tripping over recessed areas and raised bricks in sidewalks when I stroll through DC.By-the-way, when are you going to run for office? I’d vote for ya’ in a heartbeat!

  4. Mark says:

    >Hmm.I guess I don’t see having a sidewalk that isn’t perfectly smooth and uniform as being a critical problem. Perhaps charging for parking makes sense, but does the income have to be spent on fixing perfectly functional but not smooth sidewalks?

  5. Michael says:

    >Mark, I see what you’re saying but there’s a good reason for funding sidewalk repair as well as other items even if there are higher priorities.It’s hard to convince businesses or residents to raise parking charges if the money just goes into the general fund, since the money appears to just disappear into the black hole that is government spending. There may be a benefit to the homeowner or the businessman, but it’s hard to see and hard to quantify.Not so with streetscape improvements. These are sidewalk repairs, garbage cans, signage, lighting, bike racks, granite curbs and the like. These are highly visible, localized to the neighborhood, and limited in funding requirements.In Old Pasadena, as long as the city would keep the parking meter revenue to themselves in the general fund, the businesses resisted and parking in Old Pasadena continued to be problematic. Employees would use the free parking and continue to rotate their cars to avoid time limits.According to Shoup, once the city offered to dedicate the parking meter revenue to streetscape improvements in the same area, the businesses requested that the parking meters be run on Sunday and late into the night. The parking meter revenue rebuilt sidewalks, had them powerwashed periodically, provided lighting, signage, etc. The increase in sales taxes was worth any loss to the general fund from parking meters.In short, sidewalks may not the #1 priority for government as a whole, but it’s a top priority for visible, local projects.

  6. Mark says:

    >I’m okay with a lot of the things you mention: bike racks, lighting, and garbage cans, for instance, but I’m not ready to relent on the sidewalk. Ground doesn’t have to be perfectly flat and smooth for people to walk on it. Legs are awesome in that regard. Even looking at your pictures, I just don’t see why many of them are ‘bad’. It’s not like its a ghetto, it’s just that, say, a tree grew there and the roots pushed up the bricks. Doesn’t seem to affect the pedestrian at all, except to make it a little more interesting to see the effects of nature.IMHOBut I’m cool with bike parking and such.

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