Shoup Weighs in on Oakland Parking Controversy

3831238502_8b32f79956.jpgA newly installed SFpark parking meter in San Francisco. The SFpark program was inspired by Donald Shoup's theories on parking management. Photo: Bryan Goebel
If the recent parking battle in Oakland had you thinking of UCLA Professor Donald Shoup, you're not alone.

After the Oakland City Council raised parking fines and extended parking meter hours to help balance the city's books, some merchants raised an outcry. Merchants, lead by Grand Lake Theater owner Allen Michaan, said the new policies were hurting business, and threatened to recall the entire City Council if the changes weren't rolled back.

Shoup, whose market-driven parking management theories are the inspiration for San Francisco's SFpark pilot program, told the East Bay Express the merchants may have some legitimate complaints about how the city made the changes:

First, the council shouldn't be using parking meters as a cash register for its general fund, [Shoup] said. "You shouldn't set the price to raise money, but to manage supply," he explained.

Second, the council is micromanaging when it sets parking meter prices for every district in the city, he said. Instead, the council should delegate those responsibilities to city staffers who then set prices based on how difficult it is to park. As a result, it makes no sense for parking prices to be the same in busy districts, such as Rockridge and Lakeshore, as they are in less crowded ones. In addition, parking meter prices should fluctuate during the day, based on how tough it is to find a place to park. It makes no sense, Shoup said, to charge the same price at 8 a.m. when stores are closed, as at 1 p.m., during the height of the lunchtime rush.

The East Bay Express also notes that San Francisco is making some not-so-Shoupian moves of its own with the SFpark program, including sending all revenue to the MTA instead of funneling a portion back to the districts that it originates from for streetscape and other improvements.