In an editorial published Monday, the Denver Post defended five City Council members who want to force home builders to provide storage for private automobiles, even though that makes housing less affordable. According to the geniuses on the Post editorial board, making Denver residents pay more for housing is worth it because the parking requirements will reduce traffic congestion.
They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.
The quote in question explains that drivers circling streets looking for curbside parking spots account for a significant amount of traffic. But apparently no one at the Post read beyond the first paragraph of Shoup’s piece.
If they had, they would have seen that drivers cruise for parking not because developers refuse to build off-street spaces. They cruise for parking because the spaces on the street are so cheap. Here’s the part that the Post left out:
When drivers compare the prices of parking at the curb or in a garage, they usually decide the price of garage parking is too high, but instead the reverse is true. The price of curb parking is too low. Underpriced curb spaces are like rent-controlled apartments: they are hard to find, and once you find a space you’d be crazy to give it up. This makes curb spaces even harder to find, and increases the time cost (and therefore the congestion and pollution costs) of searching for them.
The South Pearl Street district, which the City Council and the Post focus on because of a pending parking-light development there, has free street parking. If the Post really wants to reduce congestion, they should be calling for the city to put the right price on those parking spots.