There’s no free parking.

SFMTA parking enforcement officer

This excellent article in Slate discusses the hidden costs of parking. I won’t attempt to summarize, it’s worth reading in its entirety.


It got me thinking about the cost of parking in the City, especially residential parking permits. Is $60 per year a market price? Or, is the City government subsidizing the cost of owning a vehicle and providing parking at below-market rates, foregoing revenue and significantly contributing to traffic congestion.

Here’s a quick ‘napkin math’ analysis:

SF DPT defines a “standard space” as being 8 feet by 18 feet (Source). That’s 144 sq. ft. and spots cost $60 per year, or $5 per month. That’s $0.0347 per sq. ft. per month.

Let’s compare that to my apartment. My room is 12 feet by 20 feet. That’s 240 sq. ft. and I pay $650 per month for my room. That’s $2.7083 per sq. ft. per month.

That’s significantly below-market. Or, let’s simply compare the $5 per month to a garage access spot that near my area averages $200 per month.

Why are we subsidizing car ownership in a city with too many cars?

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4 Responses to There’s no free parking.

  1. crasshopper says:

    It costs way less per square foot to build a road than a building, so you need to subtract off the cost of construction. (Maybe you can find an estimate online.)

  2. kfarr says:

    True, it costs less to create that square foot of building space vs. laying asphalt.

    But, that parking space is only occupied at street level. I agree that a construction cost would have to be subtracted, but an opportunity cost from lost multistory use would have to be added. They might (or might not) cancel each other out.

  3. Pingback: Hey, SFMTA, increase residential parking fees and vehicle congestion fees. « kfarr

  4. Pingback: Thank a DPT traffic control officer today. « kfarr

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