Down with Free Auto Parking! Up with Free Market Parking!
- by Michael Andersen
THERE'S NOTHING like watching the degenerates of NW 23rd to make you wonder when liberal America's war on families is going to end.
What frightens me most about this neighborhood isn't the decadence. It's the entitlement. These people now insist that the rest of us open our wallets to extend them special benefits at public expense.
I'm speaking, of course, of free automobile parking.
Of all the socialist Obamanomics being pushed down our throats these days, what is more insidious than free automobile parking? Let's summarize: In a neighborhood where land costs $50 to $100 per square foot, our city government has purchased hundreds of 130-square-foot street parking spaces, $8,000 tracts of land on each side of the street and maintained them, tax free. Nob Hill elites use these pricey places to store their personal vehicles at taxpayer expense.
Parasites, my friends. Looters. Welfare queens.
The effect? Wasted real estate drives up property taxes, which drives up home prices. It's a redistribution of wealth from the average working Joe into the grasping hands of automobile drivers.
It's a Sam's Club special: The more cars you leave in the city street, slowly rusting away, the more you save—and the bigger your government handout gets.
By contrast a blue bike "staple" (the Republicans' preferred parking facility) costs a mere $120 to install, requires no maintenance by unionized public employees, and eats up 90 percent less precious commercial real estate than an automobile parking spot.
I asked Mayor "Scam" Adams what he was going to do about socialized auto parking on NW 23rd.
"Well, it's a tradition established by our forefathers and foremothers, but it's a tradition that we're revisiting," said Adams. He hemmed and hawed for a while about the city's pathetically small experiment with "market-based" auto pricing by the new soccer stadium down the street. When demand rises on game day, he explained, the price automatically rises to meet it, from $1.60 to $3.50 an hour.
Fine, I said, stroking my mustache. But why not let this free market set parking rates everywhere in town, like they just started doing in San Francisco?
"It is a customer acceptance issue," Adams said. "It is a business concern issue."
Adams went on to suggest that when his Northwest Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee comes up with a proposal this winter, it might recommend a new transit subsidy for the district's employees as well as paid meters.
Not needed, I told him—just put in the meters and keep jacking up the parking rate until there's always a little bit of empty auto parking space. It's good American free-market microeconomics: If a $100 dirtbike or a $2.05 ride on TriMet's donkey trolley ends up being a better deal for district employees, problem solved.
"Not if you're making minimum wage," Adams said. "There's social equity, social justice, economic equity to this issue."
Clearly the man did not understand the "equity" of the free market. I hung up.
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Michael Andersen publishes Portland Afoot, a 10-minute newsmagazine about low-car life in PDX. He does actually vote Republican from time to time. Print this article