I don't understand how this variable pricing thing is going to work. Will raising the price really make people give up looking for parking and go home?
It seems to me that once you've gotten in your car and driven to your destination, you're pretty much committed to parking there. How high do the prices need to be in order to keep you from parking at that point?
And how many pieces will the meter be smashed into as a result of the rage that these prices induce?
I imagine they'll put a ceiling on the price, but no floor. But if not, at the margin people will choose other means to travel at busy parking times because they know -- at least after the first trip -- that they will be charged $50/hour on the fourth of July. Also, people may choose to leave the city more quickly if the parking price is high. If demand for parking remains consistently high, this may also make it more feasible to build larger parking structures or improve the ones that already exist. Also, the higher prevailing prices for streetside parking may bring other players into the game (like hotels or office buildings) that had before not seen the economic advantage to opening their parking to non-tenants.
It's not as though people only become economic participants in the parking market when they arrive; they make the choice to participate when they choose to leave the house and when they choose to stay in the city for four hours rather than two.
Regarding the smashed meter problem, it should be a simple matter to add cameras to the devices.
Will raising the price really make people give up looking for parking and go home?
I've actually done this before, on account of parking being too much of a pain or too expensive. It is, however, a "fool me once" scenario, since I'll now only go to the city for business, not pleasure (nor business-pleasure, like company holiday parties).