Day #012: Auction off on-street parking

Parking predictability has a monetary value–it’s time for the city to sell it.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Auction off a fraction of on-street parking spots in residential areas to monetize predictability and generate revenue.
  • Difficulty: 2 — Creating the infrastructure and enforcing the spots would cost money, but the revenue potential is large. There’s also little precedent for this idea.

Yesterday, I talked about parking in commercial areas and the area surrounding Virginia Commonwealth University. Today, I’ll focus on residential parking in neighborhoods like The Fan.

In neighborhoods like The Fan, decade old infrastructure without parking has put tons of pressure on on-street parking. The city almost has monopoly power on parking that shouldn’t be abused, but they are currently subsidizing car parking at an unbelievable rate. According to

Each on-street parking space is estimated to cost around $1,750 to build and $400 to maintain annually.Joseph Stromberg

People value predictability. The city is uniquely equipped to offer this to residents by leasing a small number of on-street parking spots while generating tons of revenue. The system would be fairly simple. Each block would have a few parking spots designated by paint. Once a year, an-eBay style auction would be held for each parking spot. Winners would be given a mirror tag for the spot.

Individuals would be limited to one spot, households would be limited to two spots to prevent hoarding, and resale at a price above the auction price would be prohibited.

Demand for parking would increase slightly because some spots would be unoccupied, but the system is mostly about shuffling around existing parking and monetizing predictability.

Spots wouldn’t have to be reserved for cars. Families with limited property could finally build that potted garden with benches for relaxing in the evening. Stuart Court could buy a spot on Lombardy and put up racks for additional bike parking. Auction winners would only be limited by what they could take down if they lose the auction the following year.

The few private parking lots in The Fan fetch prices around $50 per month or $600 per year. If only a fraction of the 205,000 residents of the city bought spots, annual incomes could regularly top $1 million.

This system would be easier to implement and maintain than yesterday’s smart meters and would open up an untapped revenue stream while barely adding any burden to the city’s parking infrastructure.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: Geek2Nurse

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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