What’s a Parking Benefits District? DNA needs to pay more attention to matters that pertain to merchants.


Yesterday Jeff Speck tweeted a thread briefly explaining Rule 19 from his new book, Walkable City Rules.

Yesterday I read this thread just after attending Develop New Albany’s monthly merchant meeting, where a guest speaker discussed wealth management in the context of family-run independent businesses.

I appreciated his efforts, while at the same time shaking my head in disappointment. Downtown merchants should be discussing matters precisely like Speck’s “Parking Benefits District” thread.

Aren’t topics like parking more relevant than wealth management to merchants in the here and now?

It remains that business owners have invested FAR MORE downtown than the city. Shouldn’t they be part of the city’s prospective solutions — if any?

City Hall is fond of dictating from above. This process needs to be reversed.

How about it, DNA? Isn’t that what you’re here for?

Probably the most effective Parking Benefits District is the one that Donald Shoup helped establish in Old Town Pasadena. Begun in 1993, it paid for all of the benefits mentioned above, as well as a team of public service officers, the burying of overhead wires, and the conversion of a rear alley network into a lovely pedestrian zone. There are no dumpsters in Old Town; each block has its own industrial trash compactor.

The experience in Pasadena has been truly transformative: a virtuous circle in which improvement has led to more visitors which has led to more meter revenue and more improvement. Within five years of its inception, property tax revenue from the district tripled and sales tax revenues quadrupled. Clearly, this is an effort worth copying.

RULE 19: Re-price parking with an eye to Shoup’s 85% rule, and establish a Parking Benefits District to direct revenue toward local improvements. From #WalkableCityRules

I’ve chosen a random on-line reference as an additional overview.

Parking management is an issue often overlooked in a city’s development plan. While it may seem like a secondary concern in the quest for economic development, parking management directly impacts accessibility to businesses, customer willingness to travel to certain areas, and the quality of life experienced by residents.

Current parking practices tend to favor generous parking supply at free or minimal cost which has unintended and undesirable consequences. Higher development costs, higher prices for goods and services, sprawl, and increased automobile travel leading to more traffic congestion, roadway costs, crashes and pollution emissions are just a few of the unwanted effects of free or cheap parking.

Several cities across the country have begun implementing alternative parking management strategies to ensure more convenient curbside on-street parking through better pricing. A Parking Benefit District (PBD) is an emerging strategy that uses better pricing to reduce the negative effects of parking and reinvests the increased revenue into improving the area streets and sidewalks.