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Taxpayer-Subsidized Parking Garages

The horror: “The District is providing a tax incentive to assist with the cost of providing 150 parking spaces for the Harris Teeter store, as it did with the DC USA Center in Columbia Heights.”

The DCUSA project has been a big success but the parking garage has proved to be a largely empty white elephant. And of course “too much parking supply” is exactly what you would expect to be the result of taxpayer-subsidized parking garages. Normally goods should be supplied at the level that the market demands. Parking spaces, however, are associated with substantial negative externalities — more parking spaces means more driving means more greenhouse gases & lower air quality & more traffic congestion. If anything public policy should be encouraging fewer parking spaces than the market rate; it certainly shouldn’t be encouraging more.

This is going to be about half a block from a Metro station, in what’s being developed as a high-density area.

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