Econ 101 tells us that underpriced goods will be over-consumed. Hence, if all parking is free in a busy neighborhood, then free spaces will be scarce. Conversely, if all parking is very expensive, then spaces will be plentiful but people will be overspending on parking. So you have to hit the sweet spot, which is one reason why the city has decided to adjust rates in the International District.
As Erica Barnett notes, the city is constantly adjusting rates in every neighborhood. No doubt they will do it again in the future. Despite the Times’ effort to portray this as a McGinn “blink”, this is a good thing. Matt G did a post back in March with plenty of graphs on parking utilization in the ID and other neighborhoods if you want to deep-dive on this subject.
Here’s local restauranteur Tom Douglas, as quoted in the Times:
“It costs more to park in front of Wild Ginger than the Dahlia Lounge and more to park in front of the Dahlia Lounge than Tai Tung (in the International District). It’s nonsense and it’s self-defeating,” Douglas said.
We don’t know if there’s more to that quote that clarifies why Mr. Douglas thinks setting prices according to demand is “nonsense.” Nevertheless, parking outside Dahlia Lounge costs $2.50 per hour. The Mixed baby lettuces with lemon, parmesan, goat cheese crostini on the dinner menu will set you back $9. Just to keep things in perspective.