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Taking The Politics Out Of Parking

<p>UCLA Professor Donald Shoup has criss-crossed the nation lecturing about the many benefits from market pricing of parking -- but he says too many cities are still making decisions based on politics.</p>
May 12, 2008, 8am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"..[P]lanning departments always insist that developers include a minimum number of parking spots[, but] Shoup doesn't have much respect for the ability of urban planners to determine how many spots are necessary. Since planners don't learn anything about parking in school, they learn it on the job, but because parking is so political – NIMBY neighbours constantly squawk at the thought of anyone parking on their street – what they really learn is the politics of parking.

"Planning will be looked back on as worse than phrenology, because phrenology didn't do any harm," he said, referring to the nineteenth-century pseudoscience that claimed to be able to determine character and other traits from the size and shape of a cranium.

The harm abundant free parking does feeds on itself: All that land dedicated to parking, which often sits empty for much of the day, increases sprawl, and that sprawl makes alternatives such as public transit and walking less feasible, which forces more people into cars, which increases the need for more parking."

"Although ideas seem like so much common sense, Shoup still feels they're underappreciated...Still, he knows some planners are curious because he receives more invitations to speak than he can accept. Cities pay him large lecture fees, fly him first class and then wine him and dine him, but they don't all do what he suggests because parking is so political."

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Published on Monday, May 12, 2008 in The Toronto Star
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