I should have known it would not be long. Just last month I posted about the battle between the city of San Francisco and the app Monkey Parking, and now the kerfuffle has come East as Universal Hub reported today that Boston mayor Walsh is squaring off against Haystack, a parking space marketplace app not unlike Monkey Parking.
Same tussle, different coast. Street and metered parking is broken - largely because it's too cheap, enforcement is too lax, and the pricing model is too static - and that gives rise to all sorts of badness. It also gives rise to entrepreneurs like Haystack trying to make it less bad and make a buck for themselves too. The entrenched incumbents - cities - decide the best thing to do is to attack the entrepreneurs not the underlying brokenness that enables their [jerky] business models.
I found this comment on UHub telling:
But owning a parking space after a storm or even the entire winter is just fine, right? I guess tire slashing isn't considered private regulation around here.
Boston's home-grown brand of ugly private appropriation of public parking spaces, winter space saving, gets exactly the opposite treatment from city hall.
Other alert posters linked to the work of Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA who seems to have studied parking quite a bit and written more than a little on the topic. I found this article called Cruising for Parking especially interesting. Shoup says that when parking is priced right, 1/8 of the spaces will be open, and the time spent searching for a spot will be negligible.
Currently in many Boston neighborhoods, about 0/8 of the spaces are available and the time that an open space remains open is negligible. How many jerky apps will it take for the city to read the research by Shoup and others, and act on it? In the mean time, I suggest the city allow the apps to operate in exchange for their data, which could be quite valuable to the effort to improve the parking situation for all.