A Tax on the Poor, Benefiting the Rich

Matthew Yglesias, joining Publicola in responding to a recent Seattle Times editorial, pointed out on Tuesday that:

wikimedia

parking mandates are a regressive subsidy. The 16 percent of Seattle households with no car are a disproportionately low-income slice of the city’s population.

Let’s expand on that a bit.  I think it’s fairly clear that the main beneficiaries of parking minimums are those with more vehicles, which would tend to be citizens with a higher income.  On the other side of the equation, who do these minimums harm?  I would group the carless as either urban types that don’t care to drive, the elderly or disabled that can’t drive, or the poor that can’t afford to drive.  Yet these groups are currently being forced to pay higher rents, to make sure if they do ever buy a car they will be less likely to use up “free” street parking.

Some numbers:

  • From the 2000 census, 28.2% of those 65 or older in Seattle have no access to a vehicle.
  • In 2009, 62.3% of Seattle workers earning $75k or more a year drove alone to work, compared to 44.1% of workers under the poverty line.

 Update – one more number:

Looking at the 2000 census data and just our Residential Urban Villages (not Urban Villages or Urban Centers – which likely have less car ownership), 19% of occupied housing units did not have a vehicle.  This number was dragged down a bit by Eastlake and Roosevelt, which each had less than 8% car free households, and dragged up by 23rd and Jackson and Rainier which each had over 30% car free households.




Comments

  1. Brent says

    Extremist opponents of getting rid of parking minima should realize that that action is a compromise. It’s right at the middle of the cars vs. other modes pendulum.

    If the pendulum swings the other way, and we have to resort to an initiative, it wouldn’t just be the parking minima we go after. We’d also go after the right of apartment owners to bundle parking with housing units. And then there is the matter of all those cars parked on the public right-of-way, some of them in transit lanes…

    The market-based approach is a happy medium in this debate.

    • Seattle Citizen says

      Always fun to see “progressives” praise the market. So how about the proposed universal apartment inspections? Why not let the market work?

      • Nathanael says

        Markets are tools. Sometimes they work, sometimes (like when you’re trying to hammer with a pair of pliers) they don’t work so well. It’s worth figuring out when.

      • Seattle Citizen says

        In other words, when it’s in your interest to praise the market, you’ll do so. When it’s not, you won’t. Which makes you no different than any other cynical politician, including the Republicans you claim you’re superior to. They believe in nothing but money, and will say anything to get it. Same as you.

  2. says

    Just by way of contrasting Seattle with the rest of the nation, from the e-book “Two Billion Cars”

    Efficient or not, cars have become our transportation mode of choice, and our dependence on them has only increased. Nearly everyone of driving age has a license in the United States, and virtually every licensed driver owns a vehicle. Amazingly, there’s now more than one vehicle for every driver and more than two per household.1 In the United States and practically every other country in the world, more vehicles are traveling farther—and multiplying faster than people. Public transport now accounts for only about 2 percent of passenger travel in the United States. Cars have nearly vanquished their competitors.

    https://kindle.amazon.com/work/two-billion-cars-sustainability-ebook/B001JC11MY/B001NLKV68

    • says

      And this too:

      Virtually every American adult who wants a vehicle has one. Remarkably, there’s more than one vehicle per licensed driver in the United States—about 1.15 at last count. More than 90 percent of all households now own a vehicle. For the most part, Americans without cars are very young, very old, disabled, or live in Manhattan.2 And most driving is done solo. Carpooling has diminished over time—from 20 percent of work trips in 1980 to only 12 percent in 20003—despite major investments in carpool lanes on freeways.

    • Mark Dublin says

      “Efficient or not” means the author doesn’t particularly care if something works. It’s just good if everybody is doing it, right? When a lot of people are doing something that doesn’t work, isn’t it a good bet they’d do something different if they had a choice?

      Just curious.

      Mark Dublin

      • Norman says

        Autos are more energy-efficient than transit, and are becoming much more so every year. Autos are almost always much faster door-to-door than transit, which is more efficient for getting where you want to go. Autos are also far less expensive to operate per passenger mile than transit, which makes them far more cost-efficient.

        In what way are autos not efficient, compared to transit?

      • Mike says

        I am highly doubtful that cars are more energy efficient than buses. A car gets anywhere between 10 and 40mpg, transporting 1 or maybe 2 people. A Metro bus gets about 8mpg, yet transports 15-150 people. This puts the energy use (gas) lower per passenger than a car. Other advantage: that’s 15-150 less cars on a particular road and more room for you to drive. Density is just more efficient. NYC, WADC, and Chicago, for example, have some of the lowest energy consumption per capita figures in the country because they use public transportation, and everything is closer together*.

        Personally, by not driving the 5 miles each way to work and taking the bus, the cost difference is $2400 per year. The time difference for an extra $2400 is acceptable too (20 min door to door via transit & 15 minutes via car door to door). Daily cost for driving: $8 parking, $3 in gas, $1 in wear/tear, which is $12/day or $3120/year based on 260 working days. Plus, for not commuting, my insurance co gives me a discount which is about $200/year.
        MTS transit pass: $72/month or $864/year.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Petrol_use_urban_density.svg
        http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/12/31/eco.cities/

      • says

        1. If a car and bus were each transporting 5 people, which would be more energy efficient?

        2. What is the cost of bringing in all retain goods and transporting waste in and out of Mahattan. Do you factor this in your efficiency ratings versus the suburban warehouse-retail model where the customer brings his goods direct to his dwelling?

      • asdf says

        1) “If a car and bus were each transporting 5 people, which would be more energy efficient?”

        Most buses carry far more than 5 people, so this is not a valid question. And even if a bus might make a few late-night trips carrying just 5 peoples, it might still be more energy efficient than cars when the manufacture and disposal costs of the vehicles is taken into account. In the case of the bus, the vehicle is already there for the other times of day when it’s carrying larger loads, so the marginal cost is the only cost. On the other hand, force each of the 5 people riding the bus on the late night trip to buy a separate car to accomplish that trip, you have to compare the fuel to power the bus against the energy costs of manufacturing those 5 additional cars (amortized over each trip those cars make) plus the energy driving those cars for that trip. When you look at it that way, I’m sure energy-wise, the bus comes out ahead.

        2) “What is the cost of bringing in all retain goods and transporting waste in and out of Mahattan. Do you factor this in your efficiency ratings versus the suburban warehouse-retail model where the customer brings his goods direct to his dwelling?”

        Less than the costs of bringing in goods for the same number of people spread out over a larger area, since less driving can serve the same number of people. Density also allows the same number of people to be served with far fewer miles of water, power, and sewer lines.

      • Nathanael says

        *Obviously*, filling vehicles is more efficient than not filling them, and so it’s important to “right-size” the vehicles used on routes.

        I knew some school bus routes for private schools which were sometimes handled by a 4-door Chevy. Obviously those were the *low-volume* routes.

        Cars are great for low volumes and suck big-time for high volumes.

      • asdf says

        Using a smaller vehicle is not necessarily more efficient. For example, consider a bus route that gets lots of riders during rush hour, but is mostly empty midday.

        To switch to a smaller bus during the low-demand midday period, you have to deadhead the big bus back to base empty each morning, then deadhead the small bus from the base to where the route is operating. Then, in early afternoon, you would have to deadhead the small bus back to the base, then deadhead the big bus from the base to the service area. All this deadheading is expensive in both fuel and driver pay. Whereas, if you just run the big bus all day, the same bus stays in service the entire day and never needs deadhead at all except at the very beginning and the very end of the service period. Plus, switching to the smaller bus means you have to pay the capitol cost of buying both the big bus and the small bus, which is more expensive than buying just the big bus.

        Depending on the situation, doing all that deadheading and buying an additional bus to the fleet probably doesn’t pay just to get a few extra miles per gallon in the middle of the day. Furthermore, the extra capacity of the big bus occasionally proves very useful when it needs to handle traffic associated with a large group or special event. So, the decision is made to just run the big bus all day and not bother with the small bus. Even though passerby see the big bus running mostly empty and talk about it being “inefficient”, it is actually the most efficient way to operate the service.

    • Jeremy says

      Like alcoholics to the bottle, Americans to their cars. Observe the sad waddling shuffle of the non-walker, as they perambulate the aisles of Walmart, or take unaccustomed strolls to the stadium. Declining walking rates–for who in their right mind would put up with the noise and stench of walking near vehicles, if only there were somewhere to walk that wasn’t angry road or trash-strewn gutter–dovetailing with spiraling obesity rates? Coincidental, of course.

  3. Chris I says

    I love this topic, because it exposes the “free market” idealists for what they really are. The “Agenda 21″ anti-planning crowd will denounce all forms of urban planning as “freedom killing” or “socialism”, but when asked about density restrictions and parking minimums, they claim “they market demands parking, so we developers should provide it”.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    • Mike says

      Isn’t it strange that the free market “demands parking”, yet they still have to utilize the government to force all private developers to build parking? If it were truly a free market, then the market and private developers should decide whether or not a building should have parking, without the government. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s almost like they’re conveniently ignoring the very same market principals they cling so strongly to!

      • Bernie says

        No, the issue is the “one bad apple”. If you’re an uber recycler and contribute nothing to the waste stream would you push for no laws mandating refuse service? Of course not because somebody is going to pile their trash on the curb or try to poach someone else’s service. With parking all it takes is one greedy developer to completely overwhelm on street parking. Now if all on street parking was market rate (or better yet didn’t exist) then there would be minimal need for mandating parking as part of new developments.

      • Chris I says

        Bernie,

        You aren’t finding the root cause yet. You’re almost there. Street parking is under priced, because it is subsidized by the local government. If street parking were properly priced, no one could mooch off the system as you described. No one with a car would buy housing without guaranteed parking if they have to pay $2-$4 an hour to park their car all day and all night.

        http://sfpark.org/

      • Nathanael says

        Are you serious — Seattle doesn’t charge for street parking ?!?!

        Everywhere charges for street parking in the East, except on really quiet streets.

  4. says

    Your argument is weak, Matt. In Seattle, a person can buy or or rent a dwelling without a car. Units without parking do cost less. And a person with a parking spot, but no car, can easily rent that space out for around $200 per month from my experience.

    I don’t care whether there are parking minimums or maximums. You want to let the builders decide what to build? That will be a great and wonderful experiment, and then in 30-40 years engineers will come along and claim that we’re doing everything wrong and have to fix it.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Right now, 30-40 years after the decisions that got us highways, engineers and planners are saying that we did everything wrong and have to fix it. But they *aren’t* saying that about our 100+ year old subway systems – they’re asking for more of those.

      • Carl says

        I would disagree with the headline – at least the “benefitting the rich” portion of the headline.

        I think the parking minima are nonsense and poor public policy. But I see no benefit particularly accruing to the rich. The beneficiaries are more likely the entire auto-industrial complex – car dealers, mechanics, road builders, etc.

      • Matt Gangemi says

        Who benefits most from free street parking? It seems to me that would be single family housing owners with multiple cars. I’m not sure this maps perfectly with “the rich”, but my data listed above certainly shows that the top 13% of earners drive more than the poor.

      • Bernie says

        It seems the top 13% are most likely to be able to afford a garage for their baby and are most likely to have free parking provided by their employeer. We know from the wealth distribution by zipcode that it’s concentrated in the suburbs where they park at the mall.

      • Carl says

        Right, so I don’t know how forcing apartment and condo projects to add parking benefits “the rich”. “The rich” don’t care if there is free street parking in neighborhoods where they don’t live.

    • Chris I says

      You might be right, but your argument that “engineering tastes and ideals change over time, so we shouldn’t change anything” is a weak one. You have to make decisions based on the best current information. That information is telling us the following:

      - Personal vehicle costs are increasing at rates significantly above inflation
      - Urban space is increasingly in high demand, and costs are also rising well above inflation
      - More citizens are living no-car or low-car lifestyles, and don’t want to subsidize those that do own cars

      If any of the above facts changes in the future, then yes, we will have to change plans. That is how planning works, though.

    • Brent says

      Don’t worry, Glenn. In 30-40 years, engineers will not say we should have gone with more single-family housing on larger and larger lots. It ain’t gonna happen, dude.

      But let me ask, would you support bike rack minima in the code? That applies to SFH’s as well as the multifamily housing that you don’t seem to like.

      If sufficient space for everyone to park a car should be mandated, why not sufficient racks for everyone to lock their bikes? Why should taxpayers have to supply racks that the property owners do not?

      • Seattle Citizen says

        I’d support bike rack requirements as long as bicycles and their riders were licensed and certified same as with cars and motorcycles. Until then, as far as I’m concerned you don’t exist, and have no legal standing.

      • Nathanael says

        Bicyclists not only have a legal right to the road, bicycle advocates are the main reason we HAVE paved roads in much of the country. Look up the history.

      • Nathanael says

        Not that we should tolerate those who violate traffic laws. I’ve got to get a camera set up so I can photograph them and report them to the police in my town, we’re having an epidemic. (The car drivers are getting worse too.)

    • Brent says

      Oh, and if you know someone willing to pay $200 a month for a parking spot in South Park, I’ve got one for them!

    • says

      Agreed – times change and so do people and their needs. With new technologies it just may be possible someday that we can live perfectly happy and ecologically sound lives without all living in little boxes. I agree with 2 of your points Chris, I just don’t see parking limits to protect the poor as a solution. That’s not the problem.

      Everyone subsidizes mass transit. Pages 32-33.
      I don’t quite understand how those with no cars are subsidizing those with cars. Looks the other way around to me. Perhaps if your apartment was on fire you’d tell the SFD to take Link to Sodo station and then transfer to the bus from there? We all need roads. They aren’t just for the benefit of the single occupant commuter.

      Brent, the engineers won’t say “we should have gone with more single-family housing” but the psychiatrists might.
      And I would like to see more bike racks everywhere, especially around stores, libraries and offices. I’m not car-centered at all, but feel free to heap on me everything you’re opposed to. I’d be happy to put a bike rack in my front yard.

      I’m sure your garage is worth something. Did you ever try to rent it out?

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Glenn,

        Subsidies to cars are extensive.

        First of all, there is a sales tax exemption for gasoline, which in Washington amounts to $480m a year. This is more or less displaced by the gas tax which is dedicated to highway purposes. Secondly, city streets are largely funded through property tax; it’s true that we all need roads, but not at the width and maintenance level required to service large volumes of SOVs. Third, there is a huge installed base of car infrastructure, particularly the interstate highway system, that was funded out of general revenue. If that doesn’t count as a subsidy then Link construction doesn’t count either.

        Lastly, there are regulatory subsidies like parking requirements, which are all about making it easier to drive but are levied on private entities. There are second order effects, like concern about congestion leading to concern about density leading to a smaller tax base, but I digress.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        I forgot city-owned on-street parking, another below-market effort to encourage driving.

      • Brent says

        The pages you refer to point out that ST is paying for HOV lanes on I-90, even though there might never again be buses using those lanes once East Link starts up.

        I was hoping you’d offer some math.

        I’ll offer you some, but in the form of questions:
        1. How much do you pay in sales tax every month?
        2. How much extra in rent do you think I pay every month because there is a parking spot bundled with my apartment?

        (FWIW, I am deeply critical of sales tax.)

      • says

        Martin, I could argue that one loaded bus does greater amounts of damage to the in-city street surface than and equal number passengers in single occupant cars. I believe that’s true but I’m really not for more cars and fewer buses. I’m just opposed to the notion that cars are being subsidized in some unusual way as argument for more transit.
        Brent, the way I read the referenced pages is that ST’s budget will have income of $825M and only 5% comes from farebox revenue.
        “Farebox Revenue
        Farebox revenue includes fares paid by riders for ST Express bus service, Central Link light rail service, and Sounder commuter rail service. During 2012, farebox revenue is projected to be $44.2 million, a 3.8% increase from the 2011 forecast.”

        If I’m reading it right, those who use transit are being subsidized by the total population to the extent of 95% of their costs. Everyone subsidizes roads in the same manner, but a greater percentage of the population have cars. If you buy a car you will pay a 10% excise tax that a non-car owning individual won’t pay, just one of the many savings that are available to those who choose not to own a vehicle. I truly look forward to getting rid of one of our cars the minute I retire.

        Cities have been struggling with parking since the horse and buggy days. Some suburban communities insist that in new developments cars be parked in a garage. No overnight street parking. This makes those neighborhoods way beyond the reach or the poor. I didn’t make this up or design it. It’s just the city planners and engineers of the day decided that that would be a good idea. Times change. Slowly we’ll head some other direction.

        Brent, Like everyone I pay about 10% of what I spend. My wife does the taxes in our family and I pay little attention to it. I don’t have any idea what you pay or why you rent and apartment with a parking space, but I’m sure you could rent it out.

      • Bernie says

        the interstate highway system, that was funded out of general revenue.

        No it wasn’t, the Federal Highway Fund paid for the Interstate system with gas tax and federal excise tax. While you see primarily private cars around here when you get outside of metro areas it’s apparent how dependent everyone is on the interstate system for delivery of goods. As for the city providing on street parking for free I’d agree that’s a waste. Required parking minimums on new development is a way to ween the public from expecting this as a god given right.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Glenn,

        You’re absolutely right that buses and trucks do most of the damage to the lanes they occupy. But buses and trucks don’t need three lanes on 2nd Avenue downtown. The rest of that real estate is for SOV demand.

        Meanwhile, you haven’t engaged with the other two sources of subsidy.

        The ST figure is of course massively skewed by the fact that the majority of its budget is capital expense, which of course has zero short-term farebox return. A much more relevant figure is Metro, which IIRC is on the order of 20-25%.

        The case for transit subsidy is that driving is also subsidized, and it makes sense to subsidize most the mode that triggers the fewest externalities. Eliminate parking requirements, socialized parking, and levy sales tax on gasoline, and I’m very much open to reducing the subsidy to transit (raising fares)provided we can find a way to keep costs low for the poor in a more targeted way.

      • says

        Martin,
        tax on gasoline is about $0.18 and in WA the state tax is about $0.55.
        And is somewhat higher on diesel. Would you sales tax just the product cost, or tax on tax as well? I’d suggest that it is already taxed, so just raise the current taxes if you want more money for roads, other infrastructure or other transit support. 2nd question: Would you raise fares on buses to cover the increased operating expense of the tax, or just let some other entity pick it up?

        I see lots of road use variations over the past few years. Narrower winding streets for one thing. Rain-gardens as a part of that. Road diets, bike lanes, tracks. So street use and transportation are evolving. Everyone pays property tax one way or the other, so I don’t know what you’re driving at here.

        Have you ever noticed (at least in North Seattle) that streets one block over from north south arterials have no parking on one side of the street. 16th Ave NE and 16th Ave NW are two examples I can think of. They were made that way because someone thought at one time that firetrucks would use those streets to travel faster than they’d be able to on a clogged arterials. To me, those streets are good places for bike right-of-ways. Instead, the arterials get bike lanes.

        Your last paragraph in the comment didn’t make any sense to me. What do you mean?

      • Aleks says

        Like everyone I pay about 10% of what I spend.

        That’s a meaningless number. How much do you pay of what you earn?

        I don’t have any idea what you pay or why you rent and apartment with a parking space, but I’m sure you could rent it out.

        In Capitol Hill, the going rate for a parking space is generally $100. $200 is crazy.

      • Aleks says

        Martin, I could argue that one loaded bus does greater amounts of damage to the in-city street surface than and equal number passengers in single occupant cars.

        It may be true or it may not. There’s also the fact that the equal number of passengers in single-occupant cars will generally be dispersed across a number of different streets, meaning that you need to maintain a much greater amount of pavement.

        But that’s beside the point. Pavement is cheap and abundant. Space is expensive and scarce. If greater use of bus service means we need to replace pavement more often, that’s fine, because it means we can move more people in less space, and that’s the whole reason we need transit in the first place.

      • Zed says

        “Would you raise fares on buses to cover the increased operating expense of the tax, or just let some other entity pick it up?”

        Government agencies don’t pay tax, so that’s a pretty silly question.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Glenn,

        Would you sales tax just the product cost, or tax on tax as well? I’d suggest that it is already taxed, so just raise the current taxes if you want more money for roads, other infrastructure or other transit support.

        You’re missing the point. The gas tax is a “user fee”, levied because it’s more efficient than tolling, dedicated to upkeep of the roads. Most other goods are taxed for the general fund. Drivers are getting a break by not having to pay their fair share into the general fund. As to whether to tax the gas tax, my instinct is no but that’s not really germane to the argument.

        2nd question: Would you raise fares on buses to cover the increased operating expense of the tax, or just let some other entity pick it up?

        I don’t believe agencies pay this tax, broadly speaking.

        Everyone pays property tax one way or the other, so I don’t know what you’re driving at here.

        That’s right. Transit is primarily subsidized through sales tax, which everyone pays. Local roads are subsidized through property tax, which all property owners pay, whether or not they drive.

        Your last paragraph in the comment didn’t make any sense to me. What do you mean?

        I was making the case that the transit subsidy should be larger than the road subsidy, which is why I support fare increases not to reduce the subsidy but to get more service.

      • says

        Aleks, A quick look at Craigslist says the answer varies.
        I spend all of what I earn one way or the other. Why do you ask?
        Ask the University Presbyterian Church how long they negotiated with Metro to fix 15th Ave NE so that when the buses stopped adjacent to their church their foundation didn’t continue to crumble.
        Zed, Some questions are rhetorical.

      • Bernie says

        Drivers are getting a break by not having to pay their fair share into the general fund.

        You pay sales tax on the price of the car even if it’s used and you buy it from a private party that’s already paid sales tax on it. All of that revenue goes into the general fund. Are renters paying their fair share or should they pay a real estate excise tax every time they move the way a home owner does? Drivers pay an MVET that goes solely to transit. Drivers pay for parking permits to park on State land but there’s no fee to use the parks. I think the limitation of gas tax for State highway funding is a protection to the general fund rather than a special subside to drivers.

      • says

        Martin,
        The gas tax is a “user fee”, levied because it’s more efficient than tolling, dedicated to upkeep of the roads. Most other goods are taxed for the general fund. Drivers are getting a break by not having to pay their fair share into the general fund. As to whether to tax the gas tax, my instinct is no but that’s not really germane to the argument.
        At $4/gal drivers are paying a tax of 18.75% on a product they use, specifically for maintenance of roads. Non-drivers don’t pay it at all, except indirectly if using a cab or other private-entity-owned conveyance. Drivers and non-drivers all pay a sales tax in WA on goods and services they buy that goes to the general fund.
        So I don’t get the “drivers get a break” part of this. If anything the discussion leads to: transit riders are subsidized by everyone and drivers pay more to subsidize roads. In no way am I against the premise. I’m against the statement “Subsidies to cars are extensive” implying that subsidies to transit are less so.

        For years I’ve been in favor of streets with no cars and a downtown with no cars. I lived in Mpls when Nicolett Mall became a bus only street and it was quite nice. I’d like to see more of that here.

      • Aleks says

        @Glenn: The point is that over half of the gas tax money that goes into the highway fund is effectively a direct transfer from the general fund, because gas is exempt from the general sales tax.

        To put it another way, imagine if gas were subject to regular sales tax, but the excise tax was dropped by an equal amount. Drivers would not be paying any more or any less, but the highway fund would have significantly less money.

      • Aleks says

        Glenn: No, the answer does not vary. Here’s what you get if you search Craigslist’s parking and storage section for parking spaces $200 or more. Ten listings, and not one of them is a regular car parking space.

        I know many, many people who have a parking spot in Capitol Hill, and everyone pays (or gets) about $100.

        Also, I think you missed my point about the pavement. Even if buses are much worse for pavement than cars, I don’t care, because fixing pavement is easy, but dedicating enough space to cars to avoid total gridlock is really, really hard. You can fix the pavement problem with enough money, but you can’t fix the gridlock problem without changing the city into a suburb.

        Anyway, it may surprise you to know that I’m not philosophically opposed to road subsidies. Roads and private automobiles are far and away the best way to get around in low-density areas, and they’re leagues better than the horses that came before them. But cars fundamentally can’t be the primary mode of transportation in a dense city, since there isn’t enough space. So I push back strongly whenever anyone suggests that cars aren’t subsidized, because their inevitable point is that transit should “pay for itself”, and the only way that ends is when transit systems (and, thus, cities) disappear entirely.

        Mobility is a public good. It makes sense to build it and use it collectively. But freeways don’t belong in cities any more than subways belong on farms.

      • Bernie says

        the highway fund would have significantly less money.

        No, because if you want everything to be “fair” you drop the gas tax and pay for all of the State highway funds out of the entire pot of state sales tax. Drivers would be paying less because the cost would be carried equally by non-drivers. Maybe that’s the way it should be since anybody buying something in the store is dependent on the roads to get the product to market.

      • Seattle Citizen says

        Eliminate parking requirements, socialized parking, and levy sales tax on gasoline

        We already do levy a sales tax on gasoline. You know it, but you lie about it, same as the rest of the mass transit advocates. This might be why you increasingly lose with the voters and with the legislature. It would be a really good idea if you’d swallow hard and force yourself to be truthful.

      • says

        Aleks,
        The point is that gas is taxed and only the people buying it pay for it. The origin of the tax was to make the people that use the roads pay for maintaining them. Truckers are taxed heavily for the same reason in state license fees. Making the people that pay for gasoline to fund education or affordable housing didn’t make sense at the time, and still doesn’t.

        I’m sure there are places that rent for $200 a month. I tried recently to find a secure place to park something for a while. I’m sure you can find a spot for less and probably not find anything for more, but that is not the point. The point is that you can recoup something you consider a loss if you make an effort.

        Cars aren’t subsidized, unless you consider the recent bail-outs. Roads are subsidized. Public transit is subsidized. Both are needed. I would love to have anything wider than 3 lanes removed from any city with a population of greater than 100,000. Wouldn’t it be lovely?

        I didn’t say transit should pay for itself. I just think that some writers should stop blaming the single family home and the automobile for all of society’s perceived ills.

      • Jim Cusick says

        Martin H Duke says

        You’re missing the point. The gas tax is a “user fee”, levied because it’s more efficient than tolling, dedicated to upkeep of the roads.

        Stop saying the gas tax is a “user fee”. A toll is a user fee. A fare is a user fee.

        If the gas tax was spent solely on upkeep of the roads, that is maintenance and repair, not expansion or new construction, then I’d agree with you. Unfortunately the gas tax is being used to construct new capacity, at the expense of upkeep.

        The tolling we’re starting to see is a result of Washington state no longer getting more federal dollars coming in than were paid out. This state was getting a ‘subsidy’ in gas tax allotment until we connected the ‘bridges to nowhere’ thereby completing our portion of the Interstate Highway system.

        If the public wants more capacity, then all that has to be done is to have Referendum/Proposition put before the public, and they can decide what level of extra taxes they want to pay.

        We did it for Sound Move, … twice.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        We already do levy a sales tax on gasoline

        You are simply incorrect. There is a 37 cent per gallon excise tax, but no ~10% sales tax. If sales tax on bikes was diverted to pay for bike infrastructure and not education, the police, and all the other things, you’d say that was a subsidy for bikes. The same is true of gasoline.

      • Bernie says

        I believe that technically an excise tax is paid by the seller, not the buyer. So legally drivers are not paying anything in gas tax. Of course it’s built into the price but that’s why you don’t see the price at the pump pre-tax the way you do with general merchandise. Other legal spins on this are the you can’t avoid paying it like some out of state residents and Canadians do with sales tax. It also means, and this is the big one, is that it’s counted by the oil companies as taxes they pay to government. So let’s stop trying to call it a sales tax, user fee or toll. It’s not, it’s an excise tax.

      • Seattle Citizen says

        First of all, there is a sales tax exemption for gasoline, which in Washington amounts to $480m a year.

        Keep telling that whopping lie, Martin. Sell it to yourself and your fan club. But don’t try it with the general public because you’ll be laughed off the stage, and then only if the audience is in a charitable mood.

      • Bernie says

        Martin is right, not confirming the $$ number but gasoline is exempt from sales tax just like broccoli, bottled water and candy. To claim otherwise is just pure folly. Worse than fudging the figures it’s just an outright lie. Even meth heads know they aren’t charged sales tax on gasoline. If you were the bill for $10 at the pump would be $11 at the register. Any clue on how many other taxes besides sales tax are included in what you pay for every item you purchase? A VAT would make this more transparent.

      • Nathanael says

        Seattle Citizen, in many states a sales tax is charged on gasoline.

        But the plain plumb fact is that in Washington State, no sales tax is charged on gasoline. Look up the sales tax law.

      • Bernie says

        in many states a sales tax is charged on gasoline.

        Not claiming it’s false but can you provide a reference as to some of those states? I’d be interested to look into how it is collected (i.e. is it included in the price at the pump which is in Washington completely different from the pricing on other sales taxable items) as well as how those states fund highway projects. In any event the federal excise tax remains and can not be lumped into sales tax.

      • Charles says

        Not claiming it’s false but can you provide a reference as to some of those states?

        @Bernie, Illinois is one such state. They pay 6.25% state sales tax on the retail price of fuel. In addition to federal and state excise taxes.

        The site “gasbuddy” has info on per state tax rates. http://www.illinoisgasprices.com/tax_info.aspx You’ll also observe that states like Michigan, Indiana, New York among those that charge sales taxes and other fees on gasoline.

      • Charles says

        According to this site: http://goo.gl/D2c9C (EIA) Washington state consumed (sold at retail) 62790000 barrels of fuel (for transportation) in 2010. That’s 2,644,740,000 gallons of fuel sold. In 2010, the average price of fuel per gallon in this area was $2.98/gal. Based on the state portion of sales tax rates of 6.5%, Washington could have collected approximately $512 Million in general tax revenue.

      • Bernie says

        Using the data from the link above for consumption I came out with a number between Martin’s $480 million and Charles’ $512 million. To see how half a billion dollars relates to the current budget I looked at the Nickel a gallon account. According to WSDOT it should raise $3.2 billion over ten years. That’s an average of $320 million a year. Scouring the new State transportation budget the line item for the Nickel Fund is $416 million for the biennium or $208 million a year. A sales tax would generate at least 15 cents per gallon. So multiplying the Nickel amount by three you get a range of $624 million to $960 million a year. None of this is a huge amount compared to the amount of moolah sloshing around in the State budget but it would for example fund the entire WSF account for this biennium.

      • Charles says

        At todays pump prices, we’re now talking about $720 Million in sales tax not being collected.

    • Seattle Citizen says

      You are simply incorrect. There is a 37 cent per gallon excise tax, but no ~10% sales tax. If sales tax on bikes was diverted to pay for bike infrastructure and not education, the police, and all the other things, you’d say that was a subsidy for bikes. The same is true of gasoline.

      I’m sure you’ve convinced yourself, and of course your fan club will (pretend to) believe anything as long as they can imagine sticking it to the owners and drivers of automobiles, who you and they they hate with a fierce passion.

      However, outside of your Kool-Aid Club, people recognize a sales tax when they see one. Oh, and part of it is in fact diverted to the parasites of mass transit and bicycling. You know that too, even though you’re too dishonest to admit it openly.

      But these things eventually catch up. You know, such as when the guy you people love, McGinn, turned out to have been lying when he said he wouldn’t try to block the downtown tunnel. And when your Proposition 1 in Seattle was trounced after people figured out that you and your friends were lying about the numbers.

      Lies do catch up with you, Martin, whether you like it or not. And guess what? The more lies you tell, the worse it will be for your side in the long run.

      • Nathanael says

        [ad hom]

        Here’s one hint. A sales tax is a percentage of a DOLLAR AMOUNT. An excise tax is an amount PER GALLON or per other unit of items.

        There is no sales tax on gasoline in the state of Washington, and you know it. Within your addled brain, perhaps there is no difference between a dollar and a gallon, but here in the real world, there is.

      • Bernie says

        A sales tax is a percentage of a DOLLAR AMOUNT. An excise tax is an amount PER GALLON

        That is most certainly incorrect. The excise tax on real estate is a percentage amount. We don’t buy real estate, or tires by the gallon.

      • Bernie says

        Seattle Citizen, please take the time to learn the difference between the emphasis tag and the blockquote tag. You’re arguments would at least be much easier to follow.

  5. johnny says

    USA highway system, and or personal auto= largest social engineering scheme in this country?

    • Andrew Smith says

      Absolutely. Everytime I drive on I-5 I wonder how they built that thing. It’s an entire city block wide and runs the height of the country, and we have thousands of these things across the country.

      How many homes were destroyed and houses displaced? It’s bananas.

      • johnny says

        The core of our highway system is needed. No doubt about it. What gets me is the Freeways built in Alaska, or other parts of our country where the population is so small. Millions of dollars spent on these freeways while around large population centers, they are falling apart. Also all those famous highways to no where. Argh.

      • Nathanael says

        The rural expressways didn’t actually demolish that much, though they’re still ridiculously enormous compared to railroad lines and created quite the environmental mess. The urban expressways — well, Europe doesn’t BUILD those, and there’s a reason.

      • Bernie says

        Europe delivers far far more of it’s freight traffic by truck that the US. The US focused on private rail infrastructure and Europe focused on public passenger rail. We have the much better freight distribution system. It’s pretty hard to argue that Europe’s approach has been more successful at any level.

    • Lloyd says

      Without question – the acreage of property pulled OFF the tax rolls is astounding – I once heard (source needed) that over 10,000 private property parcels were subsumed by I-5 in Washington state alone.

  6. Andrew Smith says

    I certainly wouldn’t describe someone making $75K as “rich”, though otherwise this is right on.

    One difference between a tax and an inefficient regulation is that the tax at least raises revenue. It would actually be much better – whether you like parking or not – to tax home/apartment construction and spend the money on parking garages than it is to force developers to build parking garages themselves.

    • Matt Gangemi says

      Yeah, the census data categories were nicely granular until $75k, then they lumped everyone into $75k+. Actually, as of the 2000 census, the $75k+ group represented the top 13.8% of workers – not quite the 1%, but close to the 10%. Certainly upper class.

      • Matt Gangemi says

        We can talk about the poorly defined term “upper middle class” that still doesn’t perfectly apply to my data, or we could just use a general term like “rich” and define it as those making $75k and above in 2000. Then go back to actually discussing parking subsidies. I was wrong about the term “upper class”, but how much effort should we spend at this?

      • Andrew Smith says

        Yes, I think my point was lost. We’re making poor people worse off so we can everyone from middle class up more comfortable. If you say “rich” I don’t count myself, but if you say “middle class and up”, I feel bad, because I don’t want poor people worse off because to make me a little more comfortable.

        Or put shorter: the benefit goes to many people who aren’t rich. That’s all.

  7. Bernie says

    New highrise buildings aren’t being marketed to the poor. Parking minimums are used to keep the rich drivers from cheaping out and taking up all available free parking on the street. Look at the parking applied to the Yessler Terrace rebuild? Housing 5,000 units, Office 900,000 SF, Neighborhood services 65,000 SF, Neighborhood retail 88,000 SF, Parking 5,100 spaces. If parking is a subside to the rich we should just elimate those 5,100 spaces and build more housing?

    28.2% of those 65 or older in Seattle have no access to a vehicle.

    So that’s 3% of the total population. In 2000 5.3% of the population in King County was 75 or older. I’m pretty sure senior living centers don’t have the same parking minimums as general residential.

    • Matt Gangemi says

      “New highrise buildings aren’t being marketed to the poor.” Who said anything about highrise buildings? Besides, today’s new construction is tomorrow’s older affordable units. Well, less affordable if you force people without cars to buy parking spaces.

      Re: Yessler Terrace. I don’t see where I claimed that no poor people drive. In fact, I think I pointed out that 44% of those in poverty do drive. It’s a little tough to talk about the open market in a development like Yessler Terrace, but yes – the designers should be able to choose how much parking to put in.

      Re: retirement homes. To start with, you’re taking my number for Seattle, and multiplying it by a number for King County. And you’ve left out the percentage of those over 65 that live in retirement homes.

      Some day when I retire, I plan to do so in the city near transit. I have a feeling that losing your ability to drive is one of the primary factors that pushes people into retirement homes. In most suburban homes you simply can’t take care of yourself if you can’t drive to the grocery store.

      • Bernie says

        I don’t have the breakdown for 65,75 and +85 for Seattle but the County number and Seattle number for +65 was only a 1/10 of one percentage point different. I was generous in rounding up to 3%. The point is that it’s a tiny fraction of the population and when you factor in senior living centers they have an infinitesimal impact on parking minimums. If you assume everyone over 85 doesn’t drive that leaves 40% of the people 75-85 still driving! That’s a surprisingly high number since they would have most likely learned to drive in the late 40′s early 50′s before virtually everyone got a drivers license and two car households were the exception rather than the norm.

      • Matt Gangemi says

        “they have an infinitesimal impact on parking minimums” Yet the parking minimums could have a huge impact on them.

      • Bernie says

        Parking minimums have no effect what so ever unless they choose to buy or rent housing that includes parking. That’s an easy choice to avoid; easier for a senior than someone under 65. So if they do choose to pay for parking they’re not using it’s because the impact was minimal. Maybe they want to have a spot for their friends and family to use when they come visit.

      • Matt Gangemi says

        The parking minimums of the past have a direct impact on the apartments avaialble today, and the minimums of today have a direct impact on the apartments available in the future.

      • Seattle Citizen says

        Zed, yes I am completely insane, etc., but I live in Seattle and I vote. I voted for the waterfront tunnel. I voted against the $60 car tabs. In the future, I will vote against every mass transit initiative, and every bicycle amenity. I also contribute money to candidates, and I will be sure to use my contributions against your interests.

        And guess what? The more ad hominems you and the others toss my way, the more energy I’ll put into opposing you. So keep it up, Zed.

      • Bernie says

        This place is full of ad hominems and expletives from Martin Duke’s friends.

        The internet is full of caching. I saw one example where you might have a case. Other than that you are making claims without documentation. Some of them by definition are just false. If you’re going to call the kettle black…

      • Bernie says

        Bernie, your friends the mass transit propagandists

        Wow, a whole slew of “friends” I never knew I had. Some how I don’t think that slew will be voting the way I do and you’re not helping the effort.

  8. Alex says

    I guess I’m a hyrbid of “Urban Elite” and “Poor” because I don’t own a car for financial reasons (though I’m not poor) and I live in an urban area where transit and walking are viable transportation modes. Cars are useful, however, and eventually I want to own one because Zipcar and traditional car rental are imperfect substitutes for car ownership.

    As the Times pointed out in its editorial, most people who can afford market-rate housing in Seattle can also afford cars. Relaxing the parking rules should reduce construction costs for new housing, but even scrapping the rules entirely is not going to massively cut parking at new developments. The market still demands parking and developers will respond accordingly.

    • Zach Shaner says

      I too could certainly afford a car, and I’m getting ever more impatient with 5 mph trolleys and potholed bike lanes, but for now the $125/month my CapHill building charges for parking is (just barely) enough to keep me and my wife from taking the car ownership plunge (for the first time since 2005). That single charge keeps me without a car and keeps my neighborhood more livable. When I do buy another car someday (kids?), I’ll happily pay for parking as a matter of principle.

      • Seattle Citizen says

        Ah yes, potholed bike lanes. Want to guess who’s hurt most when the urbanist and transit types pressure the city to divert money away from street maintenance? Hint: Run over a pothole in your car or truck, and it’s an irritation. Hit one while riding your bike, and you could wind up in the hospital or worse.

        I wonder when the bicycle types will figure it out.

    • Cameron says

      I currently work in a building that has a complete floor of parking that has never been used. This is hardly a common thing, I used to live next to a building in DC that was considering having it’s converted to a bowling alley. Inflexible parking minimums and developer chosen, market-based parking quantities are hardly the same thing.

      Also, when you automatically package a parking spot with a condo or rental, you’re effect taking that unit out of the realm of affordability for folks who could have otherwise afforded it. Considering the rate of expanding demand for housing (both urban and otherwise) in this metro area vs the comparably minute expansion of supply, a WHOLE bunch of people are going to have to be living in new housing for the current cost of housing to stay constant. New construction is already going to cater to the upper class but when you include parking minimums, you’re effectively adding $200/mo (a market rate parking spot) to the “market rate” of that unit. I wouldn’t be able to afford my current housing situation if it was automatically $200 more expensive.

      At least for the sake of ground floor urban design (excessive curb cuts, limited first floor area for retail) keep parking and housing separate! Nothing wrong with parking garages.

      • says

        “Also, when you automatically package a parking spot with a condo or rental, you’re effect taking that unit out of the realm of affordability for folks who could have otherwise afforded it.”

        It is not just the poor that are being priced out of housing in certain areas. The middle, and even upper-middle (whatever those labels mean) are being bumped. While looking at high-rise condos downtown, I noticed that many came with 2 parking spaces. I thought this odd since, at most, my wife and I would only want one car. At ~$100,000 per underground parking space, you can quickly understand why some of the recent downtown condos are so expensive.

        You can rent the parking spaces back but in at least one secure building, you can only rent to other building tenants/owners which limits your market to people who want to have 3 or more cars.

      • Bernie says

        The most expensive parking construction I’ve read about was Pacific Place at $60k per stall. If condo owners are able to charge $100k per stall it’s no wonder they built so much!

      • Alex says

        Is that second parking spot required by zoning, though, or did the developer [mistakenly] think that only 2-car households would want to own there?

        I would think that absent parking regulations, high-end condo developers would want to build 1 spot/unit (most high end buyers have/want at least 1 car), sell some additional spots separately (but only to the extent those spots can be sold above marginal cost), then allow fully tradeable parking rights among owners (I can envision potential security issues if non-residents could rent parking spots).

  9. Matt Gangemi says

    Since we’re sharing. I built a 2-car garage without being forced to. It’s great for storage and as a workshop, and I garden on the roof. And I generally park on the street.

  10. Bernie says

    Since the topic de jour seems to be “rant on parking” can anyone explain to me the Group Health building in Everett? At first glance it appears to be an impossing medical tower. But when you look closer you see that it’s like four stories of parking garage with two stories of office/clinic space on top. Does that parking get used for Sounder?

  11. Bernie says

    “Looking at the 2000 census data and just our Residential Urban Villages” the average number of vehicles available per housing unit is greater than one in every case. In fact the only Urban Village (sans Center) where it is less than one is South Lake Union Hub which is unique in having zero owner occupied housing and still came in at .7 vehicles per unit. 51% of the workers over 16 used a car, truck or van to commute and 18% use public transit. 26% walk which is great but most households still have a car for other trips.

    • Matt Gangemi says

      Maybe I’m missing your point, but what does the average number of cars have to do with anything? How does it help someone forced to buy a garage when they don’t have a car?

      • Bernie says

        If there’s 1.1 cars per housing unit then unless you mandate at least that much additional parking on new development you push the excess off onto publicly funded street parking or poaching private spots. I do believe the parking mandates should be adjusted by area as it’s clear there is much less car ownership in Urban Centers than other areas. It’s also clear from the data that owner occupied, which would include condos demand more parking than apartments. I don’t know if the City adjusts for that. As long as the parking matches up with the average a system of car free households selling their parking should work fine. It would be more equitable to break out parking from the rental fee but I can understand landlords not wanting to do all the extra work to accomodate the minority that doesn’t own a car. And since a lot of people would just decline parking and poach free spots it’s more efficient to just say it comes with the spot; lease it if you don’t use it. It would also be nice if the parking were secured by chain link and cameras such that the space could be used for storage. Maybe there’s a market for stall size containers?

      • Matt Gangemi says

        “If there’s 1.1 cars per housing unit then unless you mandate at least that much additional parking on new development you push the excess off onto publicly funded street parking or poaching private spots”
        I don’t think that follows at all. You aren’t mandating the person with 3 cars have 3 spots. Their other 2 cars still end up on the street, while the poor guy in an apartment a few blocks over has to pay for an empty spot.

        ” I do believe the parking mandates should be adjusted by area as it’s clear there is much less car ownership in Urban Centers than other areas.”
        That’s actually all that’s proposed. Removing parking requirements for apartments near transit hubs.

      • Bernie says

        Apartments near transit hubs are still averaging around .5 cars per unit. When you talking hundreds of units, which would be typical for development in these areas that makes a big difference. If Joe’s garage needs to be three cars wide then on average there should be two carless renters willing to rent him their spot. Of course it breaks down if Joe is a smuck and poaches spots for two of his beaters. The primary incentive for this bad behaivor is free parking provided by the City. Take that away and there would be no need for parking mandates.

      • Matt Gangemi says

        Even with free parking there’s no need for parking mandates. Someone with 3 cars and 1 spot has no incentive to pay the carless guy for his spot, since there’s free parking on the street. So what has the parking mandate bought us?

      • Bernie says

        The mandate has at least assured that there are enough parking spaces. Yes, there will be smucks that have a fleet of cars and poach spots; often tying them up for days or weeks at a time if they can find spots without a 24 hour maximum enforced. To fix that you have to get the City to quit giving away parking. Then the car free owner will be able to get full market value for his spot. But in my experience vacant parking stalls are not an issue in Seattle. And if an apartment building has a 2:1 ratio it’s pretty much assured that parking will be optional and not assigned randomly to half the units.

      • Aleks says

        We shouldn’t be funding street parking either. It’s a terrible use of a very scarce resource.

  12. Geoff says

    Car-less renters are being FORCED to pay higher rent now? Is that really your premise here?

    This is a reach at best.

    • Chris I says

      If you have no alternative, then you are forced into your only option: buy housing that is more expensive because the developer had to build parking that you do not need.

      Why is this concept hard to understand?

      • Geoff says

        1) There are always alternatives

        2) What buildings require you to rent parking space? Just about all are optional.

        Why are you trying so hard to create a problem that does not exist?

      • Cameron says

        Geoff: Lots. All over. Name any building built with a parking requirement. Also, in what world does an affordable housing crisis not exist in this metro area? Income vs housing cost, its the worst ratio in the nation. Parking requirements aren’t singularly causing this problem but they do contribute to the inflated the cost of newly built housing (similar culprits are private citizens who feel inclined to keep the regional housing supply far below demand).

        Seattle Citizen: Last time I checked, the lack of new affordable housing supply has forced rich people into those old homes. How many affordable old buildings in desirable neighborhoods in Seattle do you know of?

      • Seattle Citizen says

        Seattle Citizen: Last time I checked, the lack of new affordable housing supply has forced rich people into those old homes. How many affordable old buildings in desirable neighborhoods in Seattle do you know of?

        They’re all over the place. If people are paying the rents, then by definition they are “affordable.” Look, if you don’t want a building with parking, there are plenty of them in town, and you know it.

      • Bernie says

        Income vs housing cost, its the worst ratio in the nation.

        Not even close but nice addition to the False Encyclopedia of Urbanism.

      • Mike Orr says

        Pretty much all buildings built since the 1940s have parking. Between 1929-1945 there was little construction because of the Depression and War. So you have to go back to the 1920s to find buildings without parking. They exist, especially on southwest Capitol Hill and a few in the U-district, but they are not “many”, and their number is shrinking every year.

        Most of the places on Capitol Hill I’ve seen charge for parking separately, while further out it’s more likely to be included. (I lived in a small 1960s building on NW 65th Street that included parking.)

  13. Seattle Citizen says

    Ah, taxes on the poor, benefiting the rich. And here I thought you were going to be writing about the new tolls on the 520 Executive Highway. Guess not!

    • Nathanael says

      The poor will drive out of their way to avoid 520, for fairly obvious reasons. That makes those into tolls on the rich benefiting the rich. Not sure that’s wise either but anyway.

  14. meanie says

    We need to start addressing the issue that cars, and driving are not a right, they are a privilege. And the way we pay for the infrastructure that supports them is a massive entitlement program, that props up industries that in turn push for more roads.

    Its a painful loop perpetuated by the idea that living without cars, a relatively new invention, is somehow impossible.

    This is america right? If you want a car, go ahead and pay for it, but stop complaining about your rights that don’t exist.

    • Seattle Citizen says

      If you want mass transit, don’t ask the drivers of automobiles for a subsidy. Pay your own way for a change.

      • Cameron says

        Exactly. Are you entitled to your subsidies more than we are? Money ends up in your wallet via a vast economic situation that transit is an integral part of, don’t try to pretend it’s 1830 and every buck you make comes from every crop you plant. It’s all interrelated, and transit is the method that makes the system work best.

      • Mike Orr says

        Does Seattle Citizen support any kind of subsidized mass transit? Or does he think we should cancel it all and everyone should drive? Does he believe our roads could handle the congestion if 90% of bus riders drove?

        (Note: unsubsidized mass transit is not feasable; it failed in the last century. And the US is not the third world where ubiquidous jitneys and taxis charging 50c for an unsafe ride and not departing until they’re full are feasable. Of course, subsidized transit for the disabled is more justified than for the masses, but transit for the masses is a more interesting question to discuss.)

        A car is transportation, not transit. Transportation is what vehicles intrinsically do. Transit is a mobility service that one entity provides to an entire class of people (generally the public, but perhaps workers at a company or patrons on an excursion trip).

  15. RossB says

    I think you have this just about right, but I would quibble with a couple of things. First of all, this pushes up the cost of renting. It does nothing to the cost of owning a house. When the cost of rent goes up, so does the value of a house. Therefore, the “tax” is on renters, and those looking to buy a house, plain and simple. You could do the same thing by simply taxing new housing development (say, $10,000 a unit) and putting the money into public services.

    The people who benefit are those that use street parking. To a lesser extent, those that use public parking in general also benefit, because there is more available, or it is cheaper.

    It is not so clear that people who drive necessarily benefit. To a certain extent, the additional cost to build new housing likely limits new housing, and that probably limits the number of cars. In other words, less housing means less people which means less cars. On the other hand, it likely adds to the number of people who park their car inside the city, as opposed to outside it.

    In other words, if you use public parking, you likely benefit from this “tax”. If you drive, but park in a lot (or at home) then maybe you don’t.

    • Bernie says

      You could do the same thing by simply taxing new housing development (say, $10,000 a unit) and putting the money into public services.

      That’s already the case, it’s called the real estate excise tax. It would be about $10,000 on a $560,000 dwelling. Not sure of the exact rate, used to be 1.78% a few years ago.

      • RossB says

        Yes, but that applies to all real estate. The “parking tax” only applies to new development.

  16. asdf says

    I would like to see more residential parking spaces be versatile, so that people who choose not to park a car there can use the space to park bikes and related equipment, or use the space for general storage.

    Currently, unless you buy a single-family home with an enclosed garage, this is very difficult to find.

  17. Butch says

    There is plenty of affordable housing – for rent or purchase – in the Rainier Valley. Not sure what the code word “desirable neighborhood” means but if it means affordable then the RV is that.

    • Geoff says

      “Desirable neighborhood” = trendy mid to upscale part of town with plenty of 20 something hipsters. IE Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, etc.

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