How Does Paid Parking Affect Downtowns?
By Philip Oliver
Working in business development for a parking company in the South, I come across quite a few towns that are interested in implementing paid parking, but are curious about the real impacts and how exactly to execute. I ask that you excuse my pronounced bias for monetized parking and bear with me as I attempt to write objectively about the topic. The moment that paid parking enters a conversation there is a sense of contention because none of us like to pay for parking. That’s right, even the parking professional that’s managed paid parking for more than a decade admits to not loving to pay to park. The reality is that it’s an extremely important component to a successful and functional urban environment. And take it from Donald Shoup, aka ShoupDogg, that no parking is actually free. So, if you’re in one of those hundreds of towns across the country that is contemplating paid parking, or maybe just a concerned citizen that wants to hear the truth about the strategy, please read on.
The initiative of implementing paid parking, is often met with a wave of anecdotal opposition. “It’s going to kill our downtown..”, “Nobody will want to pay to park…”, “It’s going to hurt local businesses and storefronts..”. These are extremely valid concerns, and ones that can be understandingly emotional. Small businesses are the lifeline of most of these towns and operating one comes with a plethora of challenges as it is. This is where the power of data steps in to challenge your objectiveness.
Philip Oliver is Market President, Gulf Coast for Premium Parking.