Often when cities and towns don’t charge enough for parking, enforcement is the only way to get people to move along. If the price of parking is not high enough to create vacancy, then time limits are often used to help encourage turn-over.  Time limits require aggressive enforcement or drivers quickly learn that they can get away with parking in a location all day. This especially applies to employees who will quickly spread the word about when, where and how long to park in a business district.

A question arises: can there be too much enforcement?  In working with clients I often hear merchants complain that there is too much enforcement.  One way of looking at this is to ask if enforcement is resulting in the right amount of empty parking spaces so that there are a few parking spaces available?  This mirrors the mantra for pricing parking: The right price is one in which there are always a few spaces available.     

Whether it’s enforcement or pricing, the right fee or price would ensure a few available spaces.  If the price of parking, or cost of ticketing is really annoying patrons, then they will stop coming. With price, the policy option is simple: Reduce the price of parking until you lure people back to the district with low parking rates.  With enforcement, a city could similarly back off of issuing tickets.  The key advantage of using price over enforcement is that the cheaper parking is immediately apparent to the user.  The pain of a ticket is much more intermittent.  Clearly pricing is a better way to manage parking.

Another way of looking at enforcement is is it deterring bad behavior?  One client I worked with recently raised the price of parking tickets to the point where people took extra-ordinary measures not to get a ticket.   Demand for parking on street remained high-- but violations went way down.   In this case, the behavior change is exactly what we would hope: people are parking legally rather than getting a ticket.  Demand for parking remained high-- so price at this point is the last tool available to help clear out parking demand.



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