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March 29, 2007


Mr. Fish's conclusion that parking meters are underpriced makes sense, but it also brings to our attention an infrequently discussed consequence of certain measures against pollution and global warming.

Higher parking meter fees, carbon taxes, increased gasoline taxes and similiar measures to disincentivize energy consumption will all have disparate effect on those with different economic circumstances. Making it more expensive to run and use a car will cut down on traffic, and that's a tradeoff that those of us who like to drive and can afford the higher costs are happy to see. Those who are priced out of using their cars and obliged to take public transportation or forego desired trips may not be quite as happy. They will literally become foot soldiers in the war against climate change and pollution.

As former Vice President Gore and I go cruising by in our cars, we'll honor their service.

The parking meter op-ed was actually by a different author, not Fish -- I changed the wording above to make that more clear.

For what it's worth, an anecdote: Yesterday I had two appointments in downtown L.A. My first stop was City Hall. I was there for only 45 minutes and paid $16 for parking in the lot across the street. My next stop was to be a favorite restaurant where I planned to hang out for about an hour and a half. Already feeling burned for the $16, and not wanting to go broke before I ordered lunch, I cruised around for almost 15 minutes, looking for a meter near the restaurant. I never found one so finally just abandoned downtown, depriving the restaurant of a customer and myself of lunch.

Rob you bring up an interesting point. We can better serve our enviroment, our infastructure, and the entire breadth of our population by improving public transportation and making more walk/bike friendly cities. Ideally we could reduce the demand on parking, by giving commuters viable alternatives.


Meters reward those with low time preference and low incomes. If I am poor, the cost to me of cruising around for a metered spot is very low. If I am rich, my time is more valuable and it makes sense for me to economize on it by using a garage. For this reason, it will be very hard to raise rates on meters without being attacked for screwing the poor.

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