Shoupista: An admirer of the work of UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup. Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking, argues that parking regulations are mismanaged by planners, architects, and politicians, and that “free” parking is anything but.
San Jose resident Marc Morris spoke about Shoup and Shoupistas in a “Perspectives” editorial on KQED-FM (Bay Area public radio) earlier this month:
Shoup points out the hidden costs of parking. Land is tied up that could be better used for homes and shops, and the lost value is passed on in higher prices. When parking is free, people choose driving instead of walking or taking the bus. When spaces are full, people cruise the streets, creating congestion and pollution.
So we all suffer inconvenience and pay a price for “free” parking. But businesses and residents don't like parking meters either. What’s the solution? Here’s one: create a parking benefit district so that revenue from the meters goes directly back to improve the local community. It’s a smart, transformative idea. It worked in Pasadena, revitalizing a neglected downtown.
I want that in my neighborhood. Instead of protesting, I’ve become a Shoupista. If the price of parking is set correctly, convenient spaces will be available for the local businesses. The revenue from a parking benefit district can help pay to improve and maintain our local streets and sidewalks.
I first became acquainted with the Shoupista philosophy six or seven years ago, when Donald Shoup was a guest speaker at my monthly neighborhood-association meeting. Shoup presented a case study of Old Town Pasadena, which was transformed from dilapidated to thriving after it installed parking meters and dedicated the entire revenue stream to Old Town improvements. In his quiet way, Shoup is very convincing; I understand why one might become a Shoupista. Alas, no one in our neighborhood took up the parking-benefit-district banner. Our commercial strip did get new, nuisance-y parking meters (the kind that require you to find a central pay station, pay, get a receipt, return to your car, and place the receipt on your dashboard), but all of the money goes to the city of Oakland—which nevertheless recently laid off 10 percent of its police force because of budget woes—rather than to our shopping district.
Shoup’s book is 752 pages long and costs $53.42 on Amazon, but if that seems excessive you can read a 21-page PDF summary—yes, free.
Image from The Expired Meter, a Chicago website that takes an anti-Shoupista somewhat different stance from Shoup's (see comment, below).