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Chicago Wed Nov 04 2009

End Residential Permit Parking?

The Parking Ticket Geek makes an excellent case for ending residential permit parking in Chicago. I tend to agree--this falls into the general area of "commonly owned infrastructure" that I'm very fond of.

The creation of residential permit parking districts ends up exacerbating parking problems because the more of them you have, the more competition you get for the fewer and fewer free parking spots--making convenient targets for the city to squeeze more money out of people. While permit parking makes sense immediately around certain institutions--particularly big schools and hospitals--just creating permit parking because developers are over-building on density is silly and counter-productive. If your street parking can't handle it, there's no gun to your head saying you have to up-zone a piece of property to allow those extra five condo units.

I don't know if this means repealing all the districts (goodbye, every incumbent alderman) or restricting them to distances from certain classes of land use (hospitals, schools, stadiums).

There's one thing for certain, though: with better buses and trains, you wouldn't need them at all.

 
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Lee / November 4, 2009 11:25 AM

I totally disagree with the reasoning that free public parking should be a prerequisite for additional development. If people really want parking that bad, they will pay for a private space. And if people are willing to pay for private spaces, then developers will build them with those new condos, retail, offices, etc. But if the city is practically giving away spaces for free out front -- that's a very difficult price for developers to compete with.

Density is healthy for cities. The fact that people object to density over parking issues only points to the fact that our city does a poor job of managing its transportation. Which brings me to the point that I do totally agree with you that parking wouldn't be an issue if we had better transit.

If priced parking were done correctly, then it wouldn't simply be about squeezing money out of people. Providing transportation options for the public is not cheap -- street parking has significant external costs, such as road maintenance and management. People who choose the most expensive and lease efficient form of transportation should be offsetting the cost to the public, rather than expecting the 1/3 of Chicagoans who don't drive to help pay their way. And the money they're paying should go toward maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure for everyone. Now if Daley uses that money to plug unrelated budget holes, that's another matter.

Also, if this is truly "commonly owned infrastructure," then I should be able to use it too even though I don't have a car to store on the street. The city should allow non-drivers to park portable storage boxes on the street instead of having to pay for storage space. If drivers get to store their stuff in public space for free, then I'll take that deal too.

Ramsin / November 4, 2009 11:51 AM

May not have communicated that well, but I don't think density should depend on the parking to support it: the reverse actually. Just because you upzone something, doesn't mean you need to create permit parking to accommodate those new people.

Dennis Fritz / November 6, 2009 1:34 PM

Excellent article. I am glad this issue is being revisited. When you get down to it, what you're fighting is the gargantuan sense of entitlement some people have. They take it for granted that what is good, right, and fair is whatever benefits them personally. It is absurd to think you have a right to live in a dense, walkable urban area AND a right to free, no-hassle parking. Life is full of compromises.

PCC / November 9, 2009 10:03 AM

I think some cities out west have made zoning approvals contingent on "no one in this new building can, in the future, get a local parking permit." Problem solved.

In any case, the permits are wildly underpriced ($25/year, when off-street parking in the same neighborhoods is often over $1000/year) and needlessly exclusive. I live on a metered commercial street and have no access to on-street parking, but the people living behind me have plenty of available spaces within their one-block permit zone. (Not that I have a car or anything.) At the very least, the eligibility for permits should extend to both residents and employees of the surrounding block.

Jason / April 21, 2010 6:16 PM

In my opinion the residential permit system is a classic case of the slippery slope. It was originally created for very specific circumstances (e.g. Wrigley night games) and has since spread to divide the city into hundreds of zones, in many cases areas where there is no parking crunch at all.

I feel like the amazing popularity of these zones is largely due to two factors; pushing drivers to use expensive parking meters and ticket revenue for the ward.

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