No, not your typical real estate rates, but the land where you park your car. Per the recent news courtesy of the Chicago Tribune [story], parking meter rates in certain areas in the heart of the city will raise 75 cents and reach $6.50 an hour. In other areas, expect an increase as well.
This is where everyone cries, “This is an outrage!” Except maybe me. Granted I don’t live there now, but have been there on more than 1 occasion.
Back in 2008, Mayor Richard Daley agreed to lease the city’s meters to a private company in exchange for a large payout. This happened at a time when the city desperately needed it. Each year since, parking rates have gone up. Blame the company? Blame the City? Not so fast…
I guess it’s very un-American of me if I don’t want free parking everywhere, but here’s why I think paying the actual market value to park is a good idea:
- Chicago is an ungodly, hellish nightmare when it is congested by car traffic. When I personally circle blocks for 45 minutes to get to one particular store – I am actually part of the problem (done it on many occasions).
- Parking rates at the perfect pain threshold decrease driving and/or increase parking turnover – this means I may actually find a spot quicker.
- Parking turnover leads to more people going to those particular stores or restaurants nearby – which means increased sales.
- The city is best enjoyed by foot, by bike, by boat, or by transit – it’s a big city and you can’t take it all in by car.
- Land is a commodity that you can’t just make more of. Therefore, the price of land in a great city like Chicago will need to go up in accordance with its success – thus, wasted land i.e. parking spaces, needs to rise.
- People may avoid traveling to Chicago by car or just not going at all. That relieves congestion and makes traveling a lot more pleasurable by whatever means you so American-ly choose.
It’s a bold step, but a necessary one. In order to keep Chicago my kind of town, one that is walkable, bikeable, busable, trainable, and free of your hoopty’s fumes, I’m not opposed to this rate increase.
Your Friendly Meter Reader