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Parking is expensive to provide. The cost often lowers wages and increases prices, even for non-drivers. We need to unbundle the cost.



A report presented to the Air and Waste Management Association in 2010 defined an automated and transparent system to unbundle the cost of all types of car parking. The system supports the sharing of parking between user groups and guarantees an optimum vacancy rate (usually 15%) by instantaneous congestion pricing. It would greatly increase the convenience of drivers wanting to park because it would predict prices and direct drivers to the best spot available at the cost and walk distance desired. The report is hosted by the City of San Diego as part of their Climate Action Plan process.

This proposal is to design, implement and debug a reduced-feature demonstration project and to collect data to document both its acceptance by stakeholders and, most importantly, the driving reduction it achieves.

Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

Most parking in the United States is perceived to be "free". However, since it is expensive to provide, the cost is really being paid by developers and the cost is past along, to ultimately be paid for by workers, renters, and shoppers, without their knowledge or consent, regardless of how often they might use the parking. This system would add a price differential to the choice of driving. The Climate Action Plans that I have reviewed are using the option of unbundling the cost of parking, even though there is currently no good, off-the-shelve system available to implement the unbundling. Once a hand full of systems are in place, this will  become a required mitigation under CEQA or NEPA law. The inherent fairness will quickly become apparent to users, because their monthly statements will include both charges and earnings and the formulas used will generally reflect wll understood free-market principles. For those choosing to drive less, the system will feel like getting paid to not drive.

Who will take these actions?

Governments will provide the grants to support this work. They will do this because the light duty vehicle (LDV) sector must support science-based, climate-stabilizing targets. We can't do this with car-efficiency alone. We must have significant driving reductions. Using my latest AWMA report, I can document this to support those in your group or others that will write the grants. With the grant money, it will be time to go through a bid and proposal process to find a vendor. I have one vendor who would love to do the job, for $200,000. His company is located in San Diego. One good location would be a new high school in Carlsbad. Due to a law suit, the Board of Trustees have agree to consider unbundling the cost of car parking for students of driving age and employees. Once we show satisfaction and driving reductions, this method will be sought after as a Climate Action Plan measure and as a CEQA/NEPA mitigation measure.

Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will take place in California, where the auto is king and where mitigations to too much driving are most needed. The ultimate system that will result will be world-wide in scope.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

I would love to bring in the links. However, this system works very badly and I am wasting huge amounts of time trying to use it. My first AWMA report on a system to unbundle the cost of car parking has a Table 1 suggesting that unbundling will reduce driving by at least 15%. The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association's document being used in California Climate Action Plans puts the driving reduction range from 2.6% to 13%, for unbundling the cost of parking. My most recent AWMA report shows that this system is needed. Besides zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), better land use, better transit, and complete streets, we must also improve the way we pay for roads and parking. This method is essential. Better pricing doesn't cost money it saves money. 

What are other key benefits?

This will increase fairness while it reduces driving. It will reduce the need for so darn much parking. This will improve our inner cities and allow for reuse of land in the suburbs to increase the balance that is needed between the different types of zoning. Less parking needed will make redevelopment and infill more likely and more likely to occur in time.

What are the proposal’s costs?

This could cost $200,000 to $300,000. However, after the system is developed, it will be very inexpensive. Keep in mind that the above stated range is less than the value of 20 to 30 parking spaces, in many locations.

Time line

The climate clock is ticking. We need a demonstration project up and running within 2 years. After that we need the system to become widespread going into and past 2020. I assume you are aware of the climate stabilization trajectory of emissions.

Related proposals

This will work with any proposals that increase smart growth, complete streets, and economic equity.


Please call me for the links. I have a doctor's appointment and I don't want to lose this work.