Today’s Headlines

  • Republicans Won’t Even Give Obama’s Awesome Budget a Formal Hearing (MSNBC)
  • Key Democrat Embraces Obama’s Plan for an Oil Tax (The Hill)
  • Yonah Freemark: How to Build a Streetcar that Works (NYT)
  • An “Invisible Pandemic” on Georgia’s Roads (Georgia Today)
  • Telegraph: Why Do Drivers Get Away with (Attempted) Murder?
  • Obama’s Budget Includes $17 Million for Jacksonville Bus Rapid Transit (Metro Jacksonville)
  • Feds May Start Regulating Megabus Safety (The Hill)
  • How the Waze App Is Changing Driving (Men’s Journal)
  • Michigan Might Raise Speed Limit to 80 MPH (
  • San Francisco Set to Replace LOS with VMT (SF Planning Department)
  • Form Based Zoning Slowly Taking Over Connecticut (The Mirror)
  • Jesse

    According to that DNA article on the Facebook parking group, parking spaces are so difficult to find that people have to resort to these weird cartels to determine who gets them. So If you’re not in one of those cartels then you are at a disadvantage in finding a parking spot and you could conceivably spend a lot of time looking for a spot. This strikes me as a terribly inefficient way of apportioning a scarce resource.

    The problem, as I see it, is that there is so much “demand” for these spaces that the “supply” of available spaces is insufficient to satisfy it. So these parking cartels are an entirely rational, if inefficient, response to this seemingly intractable problem. But surely there must be some better way.

    Can anyone think of some mechanism / social construct to moderate the demand if the supply is particularly low? In the idea I’m considering, in its simplest form, there would be some kind of “barrier” to parking in a spot that would discourage some people from parking which could slightly bring down the demand to meet the supply. However, the barrier wouldn’t be completely insurmountable. Instead, it would just make it a little harder for people — maybe require some kind of sacrifice on their part — so that people who valued the spot the most would be willing to overcome that barrier whereas people who valued it less would reconsider. Maybe those people would park farther from their destination or they would not drive at all and instead take the train or the bus or walk or ride a bike or take a cab or an uber or a hoverboard or whatever admittedly quite limited options might be available to them.

    The barrier could be calibrated according to the “demand” and “supply” of parking spaces so that eventually it would reach an equilibrium. Ideally that equilibrium would be such that there were always a few open spaces so that people who really wanted them could find them without driving around forever.

    The question that I submit to you is: what form should this barrier take? This is where I get stuck. My big idea, to try to manage the “demand” for these spaces to bring it in line with the “supply”, is to have a kind of civic officer, authorized by the city, whose job is to regulate the excess parking spaces: The Parking Regulator In Charge of Excess (“PRICE”). The PRICE could patrol the curbside spaces and ask drivers if they “really really” want/need that space. If the driver’s answer is “no” then the PRICE could turn that person away. And if too many people answer that question “yes” (e.g., if the “demand” is too high) then that official could ask drivers if they “really really really” want/need the space and so on until we reach an acceptable equilibrium. In that way then, if the “demand” is too high then some people will be turned away by the PRICE which will ensure that the “supply” is more efficiently apportioned and there is always some excess.

    What’s great about this PRICE system is that you can apply it to other domains where you are trying to apportion scarce resources: for example, goods and services. So if we can figure out the details I think we might be on our way to solving all kinds of shortages and inefficient distributions of resources.

    Thank you if you’ve read this far. I now submit it to the thoughtful readers of this site: can you think of a better system, other than a PRICE, to limit “demand” of parking spaces when the “supply” is too low? I must admit that the system is not perfect and I am a bit stumped.