The Theory Of Parking Meters

Santa Fe

I read the letter from George Chandler on parking requirements (, and wanted to complement it a bit. A former county planner raved to me about The High Cost of Free Parking, the Shoup book that George references. I bought a copy but didn’t make it very far, since Shoup’s arguments are both incomprehensible and disgusting. To put it briefly, Shoup thinks parking should be made expensive enough to make the poors take the bus.

This gets into the Great Problem of Abstraction, which is a disease that’s killing my former field of computer science. Some theory will be developed about the world, and the authors of the theory are fully aware of the massive caveats underlying it. Each time the theory is taught, a little more nuance flakes off, like the children’s game of Telephone.

Given enough time, CS students won’t know what classes really are, but will be convinced that ultra-high-dimensional regression is the same thing as learning.

If you think parking should be a privilege, then by all means, build over parking spaces in commercial areas that are accessible by public transportation. Applying this theory to residential zones (including residential areas of mixed-use) means completely losing the plot.

Even the phrase “best practice” is revealing. At its most obvious level this is an appeal to authority, and I’ve never found that authority justified. But I think of it more like the old adage, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” The most terrifying thing in the world is accountability, and “everybody else is doing it” is the premier magic spell for keeping accountability at bay.