Land in Washington DC is scarce. Because it’s scarce, it’s expensive. Just try to rent an apartment and you’ll see. Meanwhile, we have some firms that are in the car sharing business, and they need access to space to park their cars. Sensibly, the DC government thinks they ought to pay for that scarce resources. Unfortunately they’re going about it in a crazy way. Car sharing firms will need to pay $200-$400 a month for a spot even while privately owned cars get a street parking permit for $15 per year.
That’s nuts. Let’s recap the case for charging car sharing firms for their use of parking spaces. It starts with the observation that a parking space takes up space. And space is scarce. Because it’s scarce, it’s valuable. And because it’s valuable, firms that want to benefit from using the space ought to pay. Makes sense, right? But families are no different. Anyone who wants to take up space in the city to park a car ought to pay money for the privilege. What’s the case for offering space at a discount to owners of private cars rather than shared ones? Buying a car is, obviously, more expensive than buying a Zipcar membership. So this is a regressive subsidy on average to households who are easily able to afford car ownership. It’s not good for the environment to promote private car ownership. My neighbor owning a private car doesn’t generate any positive spillovers that the government needs to be encouraging.