Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Parking in Canton

Alex pointed this article out to me, and since one of you found it first I won't quiz the class on it. Still, it's cool and I wanted you to see it.

In Canton (downtown Baltimore, not Ohio) they have a big problem with parking: too many cars and not enough spaces. So part of the area implemented a permit plan, which the Sun reports was really useful. (If you've used up your quota of Sun pages and you're in the class, I posted the piece under blog readings on Blackboard.) Residents that had been forced to circle for hours looking for a spot were able to get in much more quickly. It turns out that raising prices actually does the job! (And as a bonus, the reporter called Donald Shoop Shoup, the author of one of the articles we read earlier this semester, and quoted him in the piece.) So great: economics produces a solution.

However, the piece talks about how the parking permits were nixed, and further, the mayor has banned them for the next five years. What the heck?! Yes, the permits mean that some people had a harder time finding parking for visiting friends, but I couldn't believe that would kill the program. I mean, that's almost the point of the program: that spots should go to residents.

So I did a little more digging and uncovered the reason the parking permits were shot down. Turns out that the area is currently home to a burgeoning business: an internet startup in the area, Milennial Media, just went public to the tune of $1.8 billion. The workers at that company are trying to use street parking in the Canton area, which creates a conflict. Well, the mayor doesn't want anything coming between her and those tax revenues. (And I have to say that as a resident of Baltimore City, I want her to have those revenues: that's money to improve the city that isn't coming from my super high property taxes!) Anyway, she's trying to smooth the way for that company to stay, although it sounds like they are rapidly outgrowing their current space and are likely to be moving away soon anyway.

So economics solved the problem, but economics brought the problem back, unfortunately for the residents of Canton!

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