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The Folly Of City-Owned Garages

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"The Folly Of City-Owned Garages"

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My overnight trip to Baltimore from my home base of Washington, DC this weekend was a miracle of modern multi-modality — Capital Bikeshare from my house to Union Station, Amtrak to Baltimore’s Penn Station, then a quick ride on the Light Rail down to the Convention Center. But adjacent to the train station and here and there around central Baltimore I could spot a different kind of municipal transportation infrastructure: the city-owned parking garage.

Indeed, the Baltimore City Parking Authority manages 13 garages and 21 surface lots throughout the City of Baltimore through contracts with private parking operators. The agency has been a bit scandal-plagued lately, hit with allegations of an executive director who secretly owned shares in a private garage on the side and a contract manager who exerted influence on garage operators to hire a company owned by her then-boyfriend. Bringing ethics to municipal government is frequently a challenge, but these scandals — and especially the business of an executive director who was also a garage owner — raise the question of why cities are in this business in the first place.

Read the rest at The Atlantic Cities.

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