Certain subjects never seem to go away. One of them is parking.
We see parking as a problem every time we can’t find a space. When we are charged to park, we believe we are being fleeced. Some refuse to go to a store or restaurant if a space is not available to them in front of their intended location. Others may walk a block but no more. The car and parking are simply killing the viability of cities or towns.
A recent article in the New York Times claims that parking is worse than ever. There are 2.2 million cars registered to New York City residents. That doesn’t count the estimated 150,000 cars registered elsewhere but really belong to city registrants. 700,000 cars per day enter Manhattan.
They are all competing for the 3 million street spaces listed in the city. Many of those spaces are in the outer boroughs where there usually is no problem finding a space. It also does not count the dining sheds, dumpsters, and bike rental racks that displace cars from parking spaces.
Paid parking in private garages can be very expensive. Some places are $650 per month in Manhattan. However metered parking is relatively cheap. Though 8.4 million tickets were issued last year. Considering the number of cars, it really isn’t so many. In some neighborhoods where enforcement is lax, it is cheaper to take your chances on the street than pay for a garage.
I remember the dilemma of New York alternate side parking when I was a resident. Sometimes I would find a great spot where I would be good for a week. Other times it would take more than an hour, and I would be a mile or more away from my apartment before finding a parking space.
Now that I live in little Stuart Florida, I am very amused that many of my neighbors still find parking to be a problem here. Some want a municipal garage built to supposedly take care of the parking problem in our 2-block downtown area. Since there currently is no charge to park anywhere, parking is enforced by ticketing. In downtown there is a three-hour limit until 8 pm.
Like New York, enforcement is lax. This results in some people taking their chances on receiving a ticket. Most of the people who go over the three-hour limit are employees of the businesses downtown, especially the restaurant workers. If they are reporting for work at 4:30pm for their shifts, the likelihood of being tagged for the half hour between 7:30pm and 8:00pm is minimal.
Unlike New York, the spaces that allow parking all day long are a block or two from their work. It is strictly a matter of what one is used to doing. If Stuart instituted paid parking in the downtown core, the spaces would be available for patrons instead of employees.
Parking woes will continue to influence metropolises and small towns until municipalities accurately charge for the privilege of using valuable real estate.