We co-present a guest post by two UC Davis law professors, exploring an idea raised in The True Cost of Residential Street Parking, a SPUR Digital Dialogue held in November, co-hosted with Urban Environmentalists. Watch a video of the original conversation. Many thanks to Professors Elmendorf and Shanske for diving into the question of whether California cities can legally charge market rates for parking, and to SPUR for co-publishing this post with us, excerpted below.
How to Solve the Transit Budget Crunch: Price the Private Use of Public Streets
Written By Chris Elmendorf and Darien Shanske, UC Davis, Dec 18, 2020.
Read the full piece on SPUR's website.
COVID-19 has been catastrophic for public transit. Plunging fare and tax revenues are forcing drastic cuts. San Francisco’s transit agency could lay off more than one in five workers. Los Angeles is cutting service by 20%. Washington, DC is proposing to shutter 16% of its stations and eliminate weekend rail service. State governments can’t provide stopgap funding because they’re constitutionally constrained to balance budgets (though there is some room for creativity). Congress ought to step up, but Mitch McConnell stands in the way.
We think there’s a solution right under our feet: Make private drivers pay market rates to use the public’s roads. Traditionally, transit customers have had to fork over hefty fares, while private drivers go for free. The result is congestion, endless circling for parking spaces, Ubers and Lyfts blocking bike lanes and bus stops, and, at this precarious fiscal moment, a huge pot of potential revenue waiting to be claimed.
The place to start is residential parking. San Francisco has 275,000 curb parking spaces, only 10% of which are metered. Another 80,000 are in restricted residential parking zones. For a trivial annual fee, residents park without limit in their zone. Meanwhile, garage parking in the city costs on the order of $200 to $500 a month. Street parking isn’t worth as much as garage parking, and the value of a curb space would vary a lot from one neighborhood to the next. But even if the average curb space in the city were worth only $100 per month, the city could be earning $300 million a year from the street parking it now gives away. That’s almost double the transit agency’s forecasted deficit next year...
The authors conclude:
Here’s the bottom line: The question of what and whom to charge for using the curb lane is a political and policy question for California cities, not a legal matter. Yes, someone will probably sue if a city raises the price of parking—but they’re not likely to win. Making drastic cuts to the transit budget is a choice, not an inevitability. There is a better way.
Read the full piece on SPUR's website.
Thanks for joining us for The True Cost of Residential Street Parking, co-hosted with SPUR and Streets for People.
Street Parking Video & Brainstorm
Watch the video: Missed the discussion on residential parking? No worries. Catch parking expert Donald Shoup, urban planner Anna Muessig, law professor Chris Elmendorf, and moderator Raynell Cooper from SFMTA on Urban Environmentalists' YouTube Channel.
Share your ideas: Send us your ideas for how we could better use residential curb space. We'll include our favorites in the next newsletter, and share them with SFMTA! Just take 30 seconds to draw a picture of how we could better use residential curb space (bike parking? tiny houses? you tell us!). Snap a photo of your drawing and email your photo to us, or tweet it to @UrbanEnviroCA. (Words are OK too, if you don't like to draw.)
Building Bike Networks in SF & Berlin - Dec 14
What does it take to get a complete network of protected bike lanes, without gaps or choke points? On Monday we heard from Berliner Peter Broytman (Coordination Office Cycling) about how the city rapidly expanded its bike network during covid, and discussed how SF can grow its bike network with local bike lane mapper Peter Belden. Contact us to connect with Peter Belden with your ideas about growing SF's bike network.
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