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The N.Y.C. Free Parking Giveaway Needs to Stop

Free street parking in much of New York City means lost revenue, but it also affects the urban landscape and the quality of people’s lives. So how much is all that street space really worth?
December 10, 2019, 5am PST | Camille Fink
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Justin Fox crunches the numbers to calculate the cost of free parking in New York City. Fox uses various measures, including median income, the cost of added congestion, and land prices. "These calculations were far from scientific, but the narrow range of results they delivered makes me think that a street parking space in Manhattan may really be worth somewhere between $6,000 and $8,500 a year," says Fox. 

The cost and true value of parking are of special interest now because congestion pricing in the lower half of Manhattan is slated to start next year, notes Fox. Free parking will be harder to come by as people look for ways to avoid the fees, and the impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, such as increases in congestion as drivers hunt for parking spaces, will only become more apparent.

Fox cites a report from the staff of Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer that looks at parking policies in seven cities. It suggests that the number of permits needs to be limited and the cost of permits should be high, though these policies would not necessarily need to be applied uniformly across the city. "But in a borough where fewer than 25% of households have cars, and those that do are almost twice as affluent as those that don’t, giving away for free something that appears to be worth more than $6,000 a year doesn’t make a lot of sense," adds Fox.

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Published on Sunday, December 22, 2019 in Bloomberg Opinion
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