The Softer Side Of Shoupism

Journalist Harry Grabar takes Prof. Don Shoup's economic theories about parking (and over-parking) and illustrates them with compelling—and terrifying—stories about the role parking plays in America's cities.

2 minute read

May 22, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

“Even Don Shoup knows that 800 pages of economic analysis of free, paid, and under-priced parking can put anyone into a coma, even if it started a revolution.”

“Such is not the case with Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World--the best, and breeziest, book on parking since Shoup Dogg first dropped the mic. By journalist Henry Grabar, who is best known for writing about cities on Slate, Paved Paradise is hip, current, and comprehensive. It covers not just Shoupian economics but also design, business, public administration, culture, and just about every other impact that parking has on America's cities, soul, and psyche in a relatively slim 300 pages.”

“Through a minor miracle of storytelling, Grabar takes a topic that is literally static and gives it intrigue through numerous anecdotes (plus delightful illustrations by Oakland-based artist and urbanist Alfred Twu). He recounts the sordid tale of the privatization (and pillaging) of Chicago's parking meters. He goes on a metaphorical ride-along with New York's most hard-nosed parking attendant. He reveals how low-level employees have scammed airports out of potentially millions of dollars in revenue. He sympathizes with developers who, through regulations and lenders' mandates, have to build and then gaze upon dozens or even hundreds of empty spaces. He eavesdrops on stakeholders demanding that proposed projects be downsized lest they have inadequate parking. He sympathizes with small businesses saddled with more asphalt than inventory.”

“If planners are to truly reform parking in the United States, they need to tell stories just like Grabar does, making the ills of over-parking and under-pricing accessible to everyone.”

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