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Chicago Tue Jul 28 2009

"Boutique" Parking?

An article in the San Francicso Chronicle details a plan to relieve parking congestion by allowing neighborhoods to decide how much to charge for parking, and adding "perks" that would come along with the privilege:

They suggest replacing the 1970s-era lettered parking sticker program with "parking benefit districts," a boutique approach to parking in which residents decide how much to charge for parking in their neighborhoods, the boundaries for paid parking and what perks should come to those who pay premiums to park.

The idea is to raise money for the city, make it easier for people to park in front of their house, and also reduce pollution by encouraging transit use, said San Francisco County Transit Authority planner Jesse Koehler, who presented his three-year report Tuesday to the authority's plans and programs committee.

At first glance, applying this to Chicago, this just struck me as a terrible idea that would further segregate the city. But...

Parking is scarce in part because residential parking permits are so cheap, Koehler said. For $76 a year - pennies a day - people can park all day on their streets, in some cases using their garages for workshops or storage.

Good point. Seems the problem starts at the level of demand--we need to discourage car ownership by making transportation not only in Chicago but in the region swift and simple. Will fees discourage car ownership without matching it to better public transport?

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Good Luck / July 28, 2009 9:20 AM


On the main GB page, you've got "The latest version of the Ford Taurus has workers at a South Side auto plant keeping their fingers crossed that it becomes a hit. If it's a success with the public, it could mean more jobs at the Torrance Ave. factory"

...and then here we have "we need to discourage car ownership"

It seems we have the beginings of a econ 101 refresher course in the making.

Ramsin / July 28, 2009 9:30 AM

That IS hilarious! One writer pointing out that workers at a car factory are hoping their plant stays open, and another saying that discouraging car ownership should only happen by vastly improving public transportation (wait...does that create jobs? Wait, no, trains, buses, fleet cars, and cabs are made in heaven by Jesus.) is HILARIOUS!

GL, will you teach this economics course, where a worker in the production industry can never move to production of different products or to a new industry that would require a large and immovable workforce!?

Wait a second, what am I thinking? You wouldn't teach a 100-level course. Obviously you'd be teaching Econ 401: Magic Industries That Don't Hire Workers. Yay!

tom sherman / July 28, 2009 11:55 AM

I am dumber for having read this exchange. Let Chicagoist keep the monopoly on worthless, snarky commenting. Thanks!

Ramsin / July 28, 2009 11:59 AM

Me and GL should keep our slap fights private.

Timothy Morin / July 28, 2009 12:18 PM

Chicago's got to get it's act together regarding sprawl and redevelopment. How many wasted acres across the city are there because of the aldermen having their arms twisted (or their palms greased) by big box retailers that require 9,000 parking spaces? Add Big Papa Warbux Daley to the mix, who's been pushing for giant stores to come into the city for years, and you have a suburb within a city. Sure, the Clybourn Corridor has some good stores, but it's a shame that good paying industrial jobs have been traded for mostly low-wage service jobs on needlessly underutilized valuable city land.

Many cities smaller than Chicago have made changes to their Master Plan to force 0 foot setbacks on property anywhere in the city (Grand Rapids, MI being an example). This encourages walkability and transit-oriented development. I believe if we force retailers and others to justify the land that they take up in the city instead of just plopping them down a la Schaumburg, we would see a substantial increase in density and congestion. Which would force people into buses, onto bikes, and out of cars.

The point is, do we want to be a real city, or do we want to be a Dallas or a Los Angeles?

ardecila / July 29, 2009 3:49 AM

While the Grand Rapids approach sounds like a good idea, there are always side effects. Where is the parking going to go? Behind the building? Then maybe the business decides to have an entrance on the back, with a blank wall on the front - even worse for pedestrians. Or, businesses, worried about customers not finding their parking, decide to go to Cicero or Bedford Park, thus ridding themselves of all the restrictive city policies and ordinances (and not just the zoning ones), and depriving the city of tax revenue.

At any rate, the idea that people pay to park on the street while their garages house their junk seems unreasonable in a dense city. However, I suspect that this practice is more of a bungalow-belt thing than something done in the dense North Side, which, let's face it, is where the parking problems are. All the more reason to allow for more localized control of parking practices, although the potential for abuse is huge. I can't really think of a feasible way to tailor the permit prices to each neighborhood, either, since it would need to take into account the demand for visitor parking and the availability of off-street parking for residents, i.e. garages and driveways.

R.A. Stewart / July 29, 2009 1:53 PM

I've lived here since 1972 and have never thought Chicago was a real hospitable place to keep a car--especially when I had to park it on the street. But in the last few years the city has really outdone itself in discouraging car ownership, or at least making it an ever more costly and miserable ordeal.

Trouble is, it's all stick and no carrot. Parking gets more expensive and harder to find, fines more astronomical and the city more rapacious in collecting them, and the streets more undriveable by the day, but if the city's trying to push you onto a bus, where is it? Probably late and probably due to be cut back in next year's budget. And between the cratered streets, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't lanes that are routinely encroached on and double-parked in anyway, and the oblivious and/or homicidal drivers that the city somehow can't be bothered to rein in, you're taking your life in your hands if you decide to travel by bike.

It's not all the city's fault. A municipality today is bound to state and national politics, and our politics at those levels is dominated by suburban interests and by an ideology that sees public transportation as a frivolous luxury and cities themselves as economic and social liabilities. Not to mention that if you're lucky enough to have a job today, it's probably in the suburbs and you probably can't get to it without a car.

I really don't know if what Chicago is doing to car owners these days is even part of any considered transportation policy, or if it is just part of the gotcha government (tip o' the hat to Bob Sullivan) that has taken hold here. Regardless, I'd say it's going to drive more people out of the city than onto the CTA.

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