In Walkable DFW, Patrick Kennedy suggests that parking minimums guaranty that supply vastly exceeds demand, and that a truly successful parking policy would reduce demand for parking by building walkable urban places where trips by bike, foot, transit or combo of the above reduce the need for parking. He poses the interesting question – how do we appropriately punish a place that has too much parking?
A couple of days later, former Vancouver City Planning Director Larry Beasley stated the obvious: Downtown Dallas has too many surface parking lots and vacancies. Which caused Patrick to examine: The particular issue of downtown vacancy and underdevelopment must first acknowledge that the surface parking lots and parking garages littering the downtown core are the highest and best use of a downtown designed and built as a supersized office park with its suburban car delivery system. He goes on to point out that car-dependence is not the real problem but is rather a symptom of deeper policies, which effectively subsidize parking, free roads, and more and never-ending road construction.
Which made me think: One of the ways we dis-incentivize conduct is to tax it (not my favorite form of governmental regulation, as taxes only make government bigger but …) — take alcohol and tobacco. So what if we enacted a city ordinance that made it unlawful for businesses to subsidize parking, provided tax breaks for businesses that subsidized transit for their employees, and taxed parking lots/garages to support the transit subsidy? Would this cause more people to take transit, result in more dense living patterns closer to transit or in the downtown core? Which, by the way, makes DART’s pilot project to require paid parking at transit lots (by riders from non-DART cities) seem counter-productive.