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How Much Money Do Parking Lots Make? (melmagazine.com)
135 points by dpflan 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 125 comments

At least in California, especially in Los Angeles, it's really important to factor in that parking lots -- even on land worth $10M+ -- often pay property taxes as little as $100-$1000 a year (thanks to Prop 13).

You buy a parking lot, sit on it as the value of land increases (paying effectively 0% in taxes), then you eventually sell, paying only a capital gains tax (much lower than income).

I only bring up California, because I know it. I'm sure there's similar dodgy tax advantages in other states.

Point being -- taxing land the way we do (especially in California) seems to be problematic.

This is also the reason you see single family homes with front and back yards like 1000 meters away from sky scrapers in Los Angeles and San Jose. Those homes are paying property taxes of like $400 a year, and most of them are being rented out. It's not poor old ladies living in them that don't want to leave the neighborhood they lived their whole lives in, but gentrified under their feet into some urban monster. It's business people arbitraging tax laws.

> This is also the reason you see single family homes with front and back yards like 1000 meters away from sky scrapers in Los Angeles and San Jose. Those homes are paying property taxes of like $400 a year, and most of them are being rented out. It's not poor old ladies living in them that don't want to leave the neighborhood they lived their whole lives in, but gentrified under their feet into some urban monster. It's business people arbitraging tax laws.

Well, more specifically, if you redevelop the land (say, by putting in apartment building in where there used to be a single-story house), the property tax gets recalculated. So the tax code heavily penalizes redeveloping any property.

Oregon has a similar issue as well. You’ve got houses that are really old yet worth half a mil plus and they’re paying basically nothing. Except here the tax isn’t recalculated on sale so newer homes are not “worth” as much at resell time.

Wait. Are you saying in Oregon, if you built a house in 1910 for $3k, and you sold it in 1940, 1970, 1990, 2007, and 2019 -- it's still being assessed at the 1910 value? That can be right, can it?!

That would mean I could buy an old house for $800k, and pay like $30 in property tax a year? I don't believe it.

It's a little more complicated than that. The maximum assessed value can only go up 3% a year. (There's sometimes other taxes that end up on top, assuming the 3% isn't reached). The only time it can be re-calculated is if you do a fairly large renovation - which lad led to contractors figuring out how to make sure renovations don't trigger it.

If you go to Zillow, find some older homes then look at the tax history you'll be amazed.

So it's even worse. They're charging as much as possible for slum lord services.

To be fair, they're making a tidy profit so they can afford to do some remodeling. They just can't tear it down and make a huge new house, which would trigger a reassessment.

No? Doing maintenance is fine. Doing upgrades isn't.

There's a partial repeal of Prop 13 on our 2020 ballot. [0]

It would make commercial properties no longer subject to Prop 13.

[0] https://ballotpedia.org/California_Tax_on_Commercial_and_Ind...

The split roll initiative likely exempts many parking lots from reassessment at least until June 2025 since they can count as “small business” (fewer than 50 employees) (https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/initiatives/pdfs/19-0008%20%...)

Possibly yes. One catch might be that they are contractors so if the parking company has 50 overal it might not count. They’ll have to split up or something. Or litigate for a while. But either way it’ll sort itself out in a few years.

That's so stupid. I've never met a real estate concern that had ANY employees. The fact that a building is owned by 1 guy who outsources everything does not make it a "small business".

How do you define small business such that it excludes a one-person renting a house/apartment operation?

All residential property is already exempt from the split roll initiative (unfortunately), so residential landlords don’t need to claim the small business exemption. As for nonresidential property, if the split roll initiative passes, every single commercial landowner will want to classify themselves as a small business to get the exemption from reappraisal (unfortunately), so I imagine that this will be fairly contentious. As the initiative is written, a small business must (1) occupy the property, (3)(A) employ <50 employees, (B) be managed independently, and (C) own some real estate in California (but not necessarily the property in question?!)

> and (C) own some real estate in California (but not necessarily the property in question?!)

I think that's a protection against the business owning a Trust that owns the land. It's to force the business to own the land directly.

Why should it? What’s special about that case?

I don’t know; I think it is a small business. Ask @jumpingmice.


Most landlords are taking in (far) less than a $30MM in gross receipts per year though, right?

(That’s the SBA cutoff for “small business” in property renting; NAIC business codes 5311x0.)


That's great! I'd image that could alleviate a ton of housing issues and government funding issues in California. Does anyone know the chances of it passing?

There's no polling on it yet. I suspect it will be close because there are a lot of very rich people who will lose a lot of money if this passes.

Property tax is basically a wealth tax. Most wealthy people don't want their wealth taxed. They'll pay millions to defeat this. I wouldn't be surprised if they made ads that straight up lie and tell people their property tax will go up and some BS about farms.

Though a lot of wealth is tied up in property, I see property taxes as more of a consumption tax. I see it as you are consuming the right to exclude others from that property for a year.

A fully paid house and a 97% mortgaged house pay the same property tax in most locales.

(I also think that tenants rather than landlords are paying “going rate” property taxes, even though landlords are the ones writing the check based on actual rates.)

Zero. So many cases of "poor grandma would lose her house" cases are going to be paraded around, and most of the big money in real estate prefers the status quo too.

Yeah they’ll straight up lie I suspect. This won’t even affect any single family homes.

Yeah, but they'll convince people it's just a matter of time til they overturn the benefits for houses of $10M, and then $5, and then before you know it, even you and poor old Grandma will have to pay! You have to take a stand now!

Exactly. Taxing property encourages speculation and under-development.

Showing an alternative, Pennsylvania has several towns and cities with a split-rate tax, which means that there's a higher tax on the assessed land value than on the assessed value of the property. Taking this to an extreme, you can tax only the land value, not the property, providing a very strong incentive to make the best use of desirable land. A split rate tax just lets you turn the dial between typical property taxes and a land tax.

Many arguments in favor of the land value tax are based in concepts of economic rent and fairness. While I'm sympathetic to these arguments, I think the best argument is that it seems to work, both in theory and practice. Places that implement a split rate or land value tax tend to have fewer empty lots, parking lots, single-family homes in the middle of downtown, etc.

And not just that, but typical property taxes provide a disincentive to even improve your own property, since you'll pay more tax. They encourage blight.

It's not just California, it's everywhere. Tax policy isn't the only thing stopping us from avoiding sprawl by "thickening up" valuable areas of towns and cities, but it's a big one. Parking minimums are another, and of course zoning is yet another. All of them are important in terms of making our cities walkable, amenable to public transit, and sustainable environmentally.

*edit -- I should clarify that Prop-13 makes this effect worse in California than many places, though.

Under Proposition 13, you are not taxed on the land value or the property value. Instead, you're taxed on the land+property value at the time you bought the property.

If you make a "substantial change" to the property, the tax is reassessed. That's what generates the "empty lots, parking lots, single-family homes in the middle of downtown, etc." -- if you replace your empty lot with a useful building, your property taxes immediately spike.

Extending Prop 13 to cover property redevelopment would do as much to solve the undeveloped-land problem as repealing Prop 13 would. (Obviously, those two policies would differ in other ways.)

I think it's a mistake to focus too heavily on "should we tax land value" vs "should we tax property value". You're correct that taxing property value disincentivizes development, and that is bad. But we're talking here about cases like someone's small personal residence in the middle of downtown San Jose with $4,000,000 of land value and $200,000 of property value. (Numbers completely invented.) If they were taxed on assessed value, land+property, which is the default in most places, that immense land value would quickly make it prohibitive not to redevelop. The tiny property value is a rounding error.

Oh, yeah. Prop 13 is like an order of magnitude worse than just taxing property + land vs a higher rate on land.

> And not just that, but typical property taxes provide a disincentive to even improve your own property, since you'll pay more tax. They encourage blight.

A good old wealth tax on everything would fix that.

Not really. If a wealth tax is implemented, you'll be amazed at how soon everyone moves their wealth outside of the US. You'd be very hard pressed to tax wealth outside the US.

Distributing the tax across property, a progressive capital gains tax, a progressive corporate tax, and a small wealth tax is a much better option than a flat and high wealth tax.

>Not really. If a wealth tax is implemented, you'll be amazed at how soon everyone moves their wealth outside of the US. You'd be very hard pressed to tax wealth outside the US.

Taxing income outside the USA already happens. Taxing wealth would also happen.

There has been a huge push in the last decade to tighten up "anti-money laundering" (but usually anti-tax) laws. The cliche of the swiss bank account offering secrecy for Americans no longer exists - the Swiss now report holdings directly to the US and similar locales do likewise.

Most OECD countries have dropped wealth taxes. They don’t work. In 1990, 12 OECD countries had wealth taxes, now, only 4. A wealth tax has a lot of unintended consequences and while it sounds good as a populist sound bite, reality isn’t so simplistic.

Do you have a history of this - was it just that the ownership was moved offshore? Did they "not work" or was it just lobbied against?

I see that list of 4 (Switzerland, Spain, France, and Norway), yet I know that the Netherlands is in OECD and also has a wealth tax: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_Netherlands#...

Did they dropped them because they "don't work" or because the wealthy lobbied against them?

> And not just that, but typical property taxes provide a disincentive to even improve your own property, since you'll pay more tax. They encourage blight.

A land value tax still does this, albeit indirectly. If you improve your property, the area gets marginally more desirable and land value rises.

The solution for this in UK is to remove capital gains tax for the main home of owner-occupiers, and a transaction tax (stamp duty) paid by the purchaser.

You're correct, but it's a completely different incentive. If you hold out and everyone around you improves their property, your taxes go up almost as much anyway! It punishes speculation and rewards productive use.

So a virtuous feedback cycle is created, where everyone is incentivized to improve and develop their property to the point where they're best taking advantage of the land it sits on -- or to sell it to someone who will.

I'm familiar with stamp duty -- it has a lot of problems, mainly around the fact that it discourages people from moving. It seems significantly worse than a land tax, to me.

I have a friend in parking in LA. People tend to think these parking lot operators are dimwitted but they're extremely intelligent, shrewd businessmen. Its a cutthroat industry with deep mafia ties.

You can effectively use control of parking lots to squeeze all the margins out of local businesses such as restaurants.

Frank McCourt was a really really hated owner of Dodgers for a few years until 2012. When Frank McCourt sold Dodgers to Magic Johnson led group in 2012, he held onto 50% of the Dodger Stadium parking lot.

Yup, a guy sold Dodgers for a few billion bucks, but he still knew to hold onto the parkint log.


> It's not poor old ladies living in them that don't want to leave the neighborhood they lived their whole lives in, but gentrified under their feet into some urban monster. It's business people arbitraging tax laws.

And sometimes it's both: the poor old ladies who want to hang onto it for their descendants to inherit, ostensibly because it was the "family home" but more rationally/coldly because it could turn a tidy profit for said descendants.

> parking lots -- even on land worth $10M+ -- often pay property taxes as little as $100-$1000 a year (thanks to Prop 13).

Commercial property is also exempt under Prop 13?! What a screwed up system. I kind of understand if it applies to primary residences. I think it's ridiculous it also applies to commercial property as well.

It's insane. And, yes, it does. Same narrative to justify it.

We can't increase taxes on poor old grandpa's deli. He'll never be able to compete with all the other delis that also have to pay rising taxes. Think of poor grandpa!

Meanwhile, you've got landlords owning those shitty 6-unit dingbat apartments they built in the 70s for $100k, paying taxes of $1k per year, charging rents or $3k/month for each unit. All the while, they're collecting another $1k or so in land value increases per month, that will be taxed at a lower capital gains rate -- of which the state will see almost nothing. AND it's the whole reason no one ever sells those buildings to be redeveloped. They make so much money, since they pay no taxes, that there's no better investment in the world. Why would anyone ever sell one? Even at $10M, you'd still be crazy to sell it. It'll be worth $11M next year, and you get all that tax-free profit.

Totally legally, and totally cool.

I agree with what you say completely, but this:

> that will be taxed at a lower capital gains rate -- of which the state will see almost nothing

...is not quite correct; California does not have a special reduced cap gains tax rate like the Feds.

But this does not make the whole setup any less ridiculous.

I don't get property taxes. Why make people pay taxes on land they already paid a bunch of money for?

There are many reasons, especially for taxes on the value of land:

* The value of land is largely created by public services such as schools, infrastructure, parks and public transport. Therefore, it makes sense to recover this value through taxation.

* Almost all taxes reduce or distort what is taxed. The supply of land, on the other hand, is fixed and cannot be reduced. This way, public services such as schools can be paid for without distorting the economy.

* Property cannot be hidden or moved to tax havens.

* Land taxes prevent vacancies and thus speculation. The reduction of vacancies also helps against urban sprawl.

That's actually a very good question. There are still places in the US you can buy unincorporated land. The taxes on those properties are none to so low it is nonexistent. To live on it ends up costing you more though. There is no electricity, no roads, no schools, no police, no fire protection, no water and no water treatment. Mail you'll need to pick up at the post office in the closest town. They don't deliver if they have no roads to drive on.

This setup works for a very small percentage of the population. If you want an access road to your property you'll need to purchase the right of way from neighbors. And you'll have to live with the fact that the land you bought might not ever sell. As a primary property it's going to be extremely hard to get financing for any improvements so most of these properties are relegated to a cabin in the woods, vacation home.

One might as well ask "Why make people pay taxes on income they worked to make?".

There's no some god-given justification for taxes.

We have them because:

a) somebody can enforce their payment

b) societies need a money pool to do public things

c) societies need to encourage/discourage some things

A country could opt not to have taxes, and not maintain an army for example, and live it to the goodwill of the citizens to build infrastructure. That couldn't would be stomped by one that did have taxes and used them to build a good army. So that doesn't work out that good...

Now, assuming a society decide it needs taxes, what taxes to have is more a question of "how much money are needed" and "how to present it nicely" and "what to encourage/discourage".

Regarding "how much money is needed", the justification for property tax is simple: if income tax money aren't enough, governments might add not just property tax, but even a breathing tax. On the plus side, property is difficult to hide (as money would be e.g. in the Kayman islands).

Regarding "what to discourage", the justification for property tax is, not to hog down property and prevent its use.

You also want to get some of the value the community/government creates in an area and pushes property values (not just market value, but also use-value, like having a school nearby) up back.

To pay for schools and things like that.

For parking lots it's a catch-22 of the car centric city design, they're required for businesses to function but you can't charge them the true value of the land because making enough money to cover those property taxes would make parking prohibitively expensive. The real solution is proper public transit of course but that's hard and expensive so we get bandaids instead.

Proper public transit wouldn't look as hard or expensive if the true value of the land was taxed on parking.

It's a phase change problem, on this side we're stable (ish) and on the other side we're stable but the transition period would take years and a lot of spending so we stay in the current state. Doing it slowly and safely requires patience from voters and a willingness to suffer the painful transition period where people in the city are paying more taxes without the problem being solved. Patience is a big issue with getting long term projects done in the US, there's always political hay to be made attacking any project with long term pay offs because of the delay between new laws/taxes/construction starting and it ending. Plus it's way more appealing to scrap and change the project to "put their stamp on it" so it's Mayor Bob's revitalization project not Mayor Alice's.

Thanks for this knowledge. Where can I find more info regarding Prop 13 and the parking lot property taxes? Thank you!


I feel like the intuition behind prop 13 is similar to rent control but for land owners. Basically it freezes the price owners have to pay in taxes, so if the price of land goes up dramatically, people who have owned the land for longer pay far less in taxes.

For example, person A bought a house in SF 25 years ago for 300k. Person B buys an identical house today for 1.5M, therefore paying 5x as much in taxes every year even though both houses are worth the same value. This stifles development because any time land changes hands, the taxes dramatically increase. Even though you could make more money turning a parking lot into housing, people often don't because the taxes would increase to a point where it wouldn't be worth it.

The simplified end result for prop 13 (and rent control) is that young people are basically subsidizing old people through their taxes (and rents), keeping prices artificially high. It is incredibly hard to repeal these laws because most of the voters are unfairly benefiting from them or don't comprehend that rent control hurts them.

It sounds like most of the people here want prop 13 repealed but from your suggestion that would just make every pay the high tax so the "people often don't because the taxes would increase to a point where it wouldn't be worth it." would be true for everyone always right?

At least in SV, the older people are much, much more active in local politics, probably because they're not busy with a job/kids. When I was on a sabbatical/funemployed, I used to go to city council meetings pretty frequently, especially for meetings discussing one of these anti-development laws that are currently on the books, and it would be like 3-6 of us on the pro-development side, typically skewing on the younger side (though there were some exceptional older homeowners who would argue for our side), and then 50+ retirees on the anti-development side.

In the example I'm thinking of, it was a meeting about a law that was due to expire that limited new development to 5 stories, and effectively limited average height to 3-4 stories due to floor area ratios, and simultaneously put strict limits on the number of housing units you could build per acre. Mind you, this expiration would affect just the dense downtown core around the train station, not the vast majority of the city, which is zoned single family. They still hated the idea, it'd cause too much traffic. One lady gave an impassioned speech about how the drive to their second home in Tahoe, which used to take 4 hours now took 6-8 on Friday due to traffic. This came right after a speech from someone who was about to lose their primary residence due to rent spiking. I don't know how she was able bring herself to follow that, but she certainly tried.

The basic idea is that people are being disproportionally taxed, usually in favor of the rich (i.e. people who have owned property in high CoL places for a long time). By raising the taxes on these people to "fair" levels, a bunch of good things happen.

First, a lot of property is opened up to the market because people are now willing to sell it, which should lower housing/land prices in general and enable more development. Second, the state gets a lot more tax money to use for education and whatever else.

There is nothing much to know except that Prop 13 also applies to commercial property, not just the American homeowner with a mortgage and truck. I'm not quite sure why, but asking the people who voted in the 70s to give themselves a massive tax cut is probably not going to yield anything useful (ask your parents some time!).

I like this billboard from the good old days https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Ev....

It says: "Everybody works but the vacant lot. I paid $3,600 for this lot and will hold till I get $6000. The profit is unearned increment made possible by the presence of this community and enterprise of its people. I take the profit without earning it."

These lots produce negative externalities to society and should be taxed accordingly.

If it was 100% guaranteed that the lot will be worth $6000 in a couple of years, it wouldn't be sold at $3600, but something much closer to $6000. The gentleman buying the lot is obviously taking on risk - the lot may very well never be worth $6000, or may even never again be worth $3600.

This is not necessarily true though. If you could use that 3600 to become 7000 in the same time it would definitely make sense to sell for 3600, and reinvest that money into a even more profitable investment.

I don't disagree that they should be compensated. It is not the only moving part, however, and those should be priced in as well.

This quote is from Henry George, who advocated for Georgism. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgism

It appears that the quote is about George, not by George.

"George advocated for Georgism" is a tautology :-)

Most people don't advocate for "themselves-ism" -> not a tautology

But Georgism is the things George advocated, therefore:

  George advocated for the things George advocated

Like the city of Chicago's parking tax that was cited in the article? https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/revenue/...

More likely a land value tax, based on the quote.

Denver is littered with surface parking lots. This is due to the relatively recent spike in value.

There is no way you could buy the property now and operate a parking lot, but they got in when it was cheap, so it's all profit now.

If the land could make more profit with another use, that profit is a net loss (opportunity cost).

YIMBY in SF Bay area should seriously consider buying billboard space for this on the 101.

> I take the profit without earning it.

Honest man.

This is why interest/usury are predatory and parasitic practices, and are banned in several religions.

I'll never understand how articles like this always talk about Uber and never about public transportation.


>The AirTrain's ridership has risen each year since then. In 2017, there were 7,655,901 passengers who paid to travel between JFK Airport and either Howard Beach or Jamaica. This represents a 292% increase over 2004, the first full year of operation, when 2,623,791 riders paid.

>An additional 12.6 million people are estimated to have ridden the AirTrain for free in 2017.

When such an answer already exists, there is no reason to even ruminate on self driving cars.

It seems that to Americans, public transport is unthinkable and the mere suggestion that it could be a solution is met with shock and horror since the only public transport they have ever known is the American kind with useless timetables and primarily used as homeless housing.

The timetables could be deemphasized if you could see the public transportation moving live on a map. The homeless housing aspect could be reduced if a phone or app was required for the upscale public transport.

>reduced if a phone or app was required

No thanks. I don't want government mandated spyware on my phone. Its shocking that your solution is to try and ban poor people from public transport rather than providing them a proper place to stay.

The AirTrain is only eight miles long, cost $1.9 billion to build, and is relevant only to those going to or from JFK. Public transport, especially the AirTrain, is great but I think such advocacy would be well served by discussing the costs as well.

I think it would only be fair to put the cost of constructing roads next to that number since those are mindblowingly high as well. The first result I saw was that a 6 lane highway costs about $7-11 million per mile and that doesn't count the cost of all the cars that use it where as the first stat would count the train. I also assume that steel tracks last a lot longer than road surface which has to be rebuilt every few years. Also the cost of carbon emissions is often ignored in car price stats.

For reference, in the United States, the amount of money spent on road maintenance per state controlled mile looks something like this:

* $2,700 in Alabama

* $80,000 in Massachusetts

* $84,000 in California

* $208,000 in New Jersey


For context, making a new 2-lane road costs 2-5 million USD per mile.

I didn't realize roads were so expensive.

When land is expensive roads are expensive.

Self driving cars are a form of individual travel. An airport train is prescheduled and prerouted. The former beats the latter under specific circumstances only (or we would not have these two categories of transportation).

I would argue that traveling from and to a large airport is about as disadvantageous as it gets for individual travel: Your schedule is determined by someone else. Your route is already fixed. The only benefit of individual that I can think of in that case is the possibility to travel to/from somewhat remote locations directly from/to the airport.

>The former beats the latter under specific circumstances only.

A large part of that circumstance being the nonexistance of the former and creation of our urban environments to specifically cater to the latter.

> A large part of that circumstance being the nonexistance of the former and creation of our urban environments to specifically cater to the latter.

That's a nice talking points and might even apply to some (US) cities. But I live with an extensively (and expensively) built public transportation and still it loses vs. individual transport quite often.

I know a family that own a parking lot at LAX, as well as a parking lot across from Staples Center in LA. Safe to say it is their crown jewels of assets.

The irony is that the father didn't want these, but they were thrown into a financing deal that he was on the other side of.

How much money does a parking lot impose in external costs upon society?


This is sadly true: about 10 years ago when self driving cars were on the horizon* I looked into buying some parking lots in Manhattan and SF figuring that I could get a good price now and turn them into something valuable down the road.

Turned out the people who owned them weren't dummies and had the same strategy. The prices I could get (and few were even willing to talk) were enormous multiples of likely revenue: basically the price of a buildable city lot where you didn't have to demolish an existing structure.

* They seemed only a decade away. Now, 10 years later, they are only a couple of decades away. Like fusion power.

There's no logic to thinking of parking lots as different to any apartment or office tower. They are an asset that generates rental income. The value of the parking lot will be based on the rental income as well as the development potential of the land.

I found this article while doing cursory research on the economics of parking lots and booting. My assumption is that when booting companies could charge booted cars to remove the boot on the spot (i.e., on-site credit card reader), then booting became a more serious side-business for businesses that have parking lots (add in CV-monitored parking lot technology - automated delinquent detection).

I have more research to do; if you any insights/knowledge, my curiosity compels me to ask that you share. ;^)

By "booting" do you mean "towing"? I'm from western Canada and have never heard the term "booting" before in relation to parking lots and what I assume must be towing.

Booting refers to wheel clamping https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp

Aaah interesting -- thanks!

Like @mkmk linked: by booting I mean "wheel clamping". Your car is immobilized in the lot instead of being towed from the lot, and you have to pay the fine.

How about just making it a private "no-parking" area and then towing the wrongly parked cars into a pound and asking a nice fee to have the car reclaimed at $500 apiece?

Like here


> Bear in mind, though, an ideal lot wouldn’t be full of only office workers. They’re parked there all day! Ideally you get shoppers, who turn over their parking spot every hour or two.

I wonder how much this actually matters? Money is money, whether it's coming from one person parked for 8 hours or four people each parked for 2 hours.

Sure, most lots will charge a somewhat lower rate for a longer period of time (i.e. the per-hour is less than three per-20-minutes, the per-four-hours is less than four per-hours, etc.), but if lots really do prefer short-duration parkers over longer-duration parkers, then it'd make sense for them to just not incentivize that behavior and charge a flat rate (or even invert it), no?

Guaranteed money is better than maybe-money too. Most operators will take a guaranteed 8 hours compared to maybe filling a spot later. Taking this to the extreme, many places here sell monthly packages for commuters.

The variable hourly-rates is also a form of price anchoring and takes advantage of sunk costs. Look at Westfield's Sydney CBD rates here: https://www.westfield.com.au/sydney/parking

Once you pay that first $35 it's not so bad to stick around and spend a bit more. Westfield has a vested interest in this since they run the shopping centre, but other local operators have to compete with this so can't be too much more expensive.

If you in Sydney, Australia (in the CBD, which is downtown) your looking at $65 USD per day. Absolute rip-off.

Demand better public transport, then. It's the solution for every other city in Australia.

The CBD shouldn't be for cars.

Sydney has pretty decent public transport, at least by Australian standards, and most certainly compared to any US city of comparable size. I never park my car in central Sydney on a weekday, and have never been particularly inconvenienced by that cost.

Yes after 5pm weekdays and on the weekend there are plenty of flat rate places for $15 or about $10 more towards the north end of town.

I just wish they'd build more parking near some of the suburban train stations. It's usually OK far from the CBD, but a park and ride strategy would definitely help at places 15-20 minutes out. Mascot and Green Square have both gone through a lot of development, are expecting a lot of new people, and still have tiny roads with no dedicated parking near stations.

Some parking spaces in central London are more per hour than minimum wage

Self-driving cars will render these obsolete

I for one am holding out for self-driving flying fusion-powered room temperature quantum computer cars that will run a panel of blood tests from a single prick of the finger.

> Self-driving cars will render these obsolete

They already are [1]:

> If you park your car on the lower level of the Millennium Lakeside Garage under Maggie Daley Park, you might feel like you've just pulled into a subterranean car dealership. > Rows of new and used Volkswagens and Hondas—nearly 400 in total—fill a lot of the space. You might spot a worker painting a Jetta with a spray gun. The level above has a more nautical feel, with dozens of empty boat trailers. > Yet the garage still isn't close to full, a problem for the international joint venture that paid $370 million in 2016 to lease it and three other city-owned garages under Millennium and Grant parks. With 9,176 spaces, the garages constitute the largest underground parking system in the country. At 3.8 million square feet, it's almost as big as Willis Tower. > It's actually too big, which is why Rick West, the executive who runs the garages, is exploring creative ways to fill excess space in Lakeside, the easternmost and largest garage, with 3,850 spaces. He'd like to convert part of it into warehouse space, even hiring a brokerage to market the property to logistics firms. But he hasn't landed any tenants yet. > "I'm really looking at anything and everything having to do with mobility—that could be mobility of people or mobility of things," says West, CEO of Millennium Garages. "How do I keep this asset relevant for the next many, many decades?"

[1] https://www.chicagobusiness.com/commercial-real-estate/prime...

You'd think he'd try to ponder those questions before investing $370 million of other people's money.

I would think other people would ponder those questions before giving someone else their money.

Is your self-driving car going to take up less space or something?

Rather than pay to park your car you can just have it go get stuck in traffic and slowly crawl around in circles utilizing the free "parking" provided by the roads. Since electric cars do not need to idle they should be able to roll around slowly fairly efficiently.

As horrific as that idea sounds you just know that will be the reality until there is a law against it.

I think I'd rather minimize the time my self-driving car spends out on the road where it can get hit by a dumb human driver, rot in the sun, wear out the tires, and accumulate grime.

I'd just send it to the nearest Sears parking lot (and instruct it to attempt to find shade?)

IIRC, a typical city has 3.5 parking spots per car. A car that can always return to it's "home" spot doesn't need more than 1 spot. And if you can assume that a certain percentage of cars are always on the road you might be able to have more cars than parking spots.

Of course the increased traffic of homing cars might turn the roads into metaphorical parking spots...

That works...if it were not for the fact that moving through the city is not instant. Not even fast at busy times. So if your "home spot" is 10 blocks away, that might be 3 minutes. Or might be 60. Who'll want to wait that long?

I believe GP is referring to the idea that when self-driving cars make up a majority of transportation, the cars can just go drive for someone else instead of sitting in a lot.

That's not going to help if everyone is going to work and coming home from work around the same time. And it's only going to make a difference if a large % of people stop owning cars and start renting them from other people. Buses and trains would actually help during rush hours though.

It would help significantly by reducing congestion because people can go directly to their destination instead of going into and out of parking lots, which tend to be clustered and add significant traffic to the city.

On top of that people won't need to start and end at the same time with self driving cars, as you have the ability to sleep/read/do work during the commute.

The idea is that a self-driving car rarely has to park, it can simply drive around for your entire 8-hour work day after dropping you off. Or, maybe provide some ride-sharing services instead to be more useful and profitable.

I would guess that parking in a parking lot is preferable to continuing to waste fuel and make traffic worse for the entire work day. Not to mention the other hours in a day you're not driving it.

Yes, that's a pretty common counterargument. Having a large number of autonomous cars roaming the streets during the day like zombies isn't really sustainable. But, with companies like Tesla promoting the idea that you car could be productive via ride sharing during the day, it might prevent the cars from at least wandering aimlessly.

Fortunately, many self-driving car companies are using alternative fuel vehicles (Cruise uses the Bolt, Tesla is obviously electric, Waymo has the i-Pace and Pacifica Hybrids), and things like inductive charging are also helpful for complete autonomy so the future of autonomous zombie cars may involve fewer tailpipe emissions at least :)

Cars by Bird, Sedans by Lime.

It seems less promising, now that I see the piles of scooters in downtowns.

No, they're just not going to park in a city center.

No, I don't think so. Not really relevant tbh.

Self-driving cars will make the entire world a parking lot.

I don't think they will. The first argument in the article is that people buy these lots to hold and resell later at a higher price when the neighborhood improves. Parking income just pays a little while they wait.

I don't think it will. The parking ain't the point; it's just a bit of side cash to make off the lot to cover the property taxes until eventual resale. It'll probably find other uses (e.g. food trucks).

Even if it was the point, stick a charger on every space and BAM! now you've got a reason to let your electric self-driving car park there instead of wasting battery driving all the way back home only to drive all the way back to you and home again later.

In 2050, maybe.

Perfect, that is about the time I will be too old to drive myself.

Don't be so sure of that -- you could be incapacitated tomorrow.

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