Free parking is welfare

When D.C. recently doubled its parking meter rates, many folks called it a tax hike. But it’s not. It’s a price hike — on a product already being subsidized by the taxpayers.

Parking is an issue where I think Left and Right should agree. Liberals want people to drive cars less. Conservatives want markets, rather than government, to set the price of things.

It turns out that we could do some good by ending government subsidies and getting rid of laws that require developers to build parking. Tyler Cowen, a free-market economist, discussed this in a NY Times Op-Ed headlined “Free Parking Comes at a Price.”

This has set off an interesting (if at times overly wonky) debate, with Cato Institute’s Randall O’Toole and L.A. academic Donald Shoup weighing in.

I’m pretty convinced by Shoup and Cowen that government does subsidize parking and that it shouldn’t. I would go further: highways should be paid for — their construction and their maintenance — by tolls, and cities should pay for their local roads with some combination of congestion fees and more expensive residential parking permits.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Indoor dining at John’s Grill. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State’s mask mandate to continue until June 15 reopening despite CDC guidance

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation California will wait until next… Continue reading

Officers stand beside a Mobile Command Center parked at U.N. Plaza in 2018 to combat crime and quality of life issues. (Michael Toren/Special to The S.F. Examiner)
Breed announces increase in police presence, community ambassadors in Mid-Market area

San Francisco will add more police officers to the Mid-Market area starting… Continue reading

International Bird Rescue helped save Bay Area birds that were contaminated by mysterious goo in 2015. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)
International Bird Rescue marks 50 years of wildlife protection

Group established in wake of massive oil spill continues essential rehabilitation, research

A cyclist heads past an artistic sign onto Page Street, a Slow Street, at Stanyan Street near Golden Gate Park on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Push to make street closures permanent meets with resistance

Hastily thrown together during the pandemic, Slow Streets program now struggles to build support

Most Read