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In part this is because the minimal cost of development is lower bounded, and not primarily by government controls but by land and construction costs established by the free market.

Interesting comment overall, but this does not appear to be true: see The Rent is Too Damn High (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0078XGJXO/) and The Triumph of the City (http://www.amazon.com/Triumph-City-Greatest-Invention-Health...) for more detail on how height limits and parking minimums in particular prevent the housing market from functioning, especially in desirable urban areas with many jobs.




All real estate is local, so there are places where rental housing availability is dominated by height restrictions. But most places. land costs and fire codes make building more than four stories economically infeasible, there are simply better returns to be had.

Parking drives projects upscale because it forms a lower bound and the costs are better amortized with higher priced units. Then again, we don't regulate automobile ownership in ways that prevent offloading private use onto public parking infrastructure. It's not as if people can be prohibited from owning cars based on where they live.

The dominance of parking is worse in the suburban environment where multiple spaces exists for every car.


> It's not as if people can be prohibited from owning cars based on where they live.

In Japan to buy and register a car, you have to submit proof that you have access to a parking space for it, some cities have rules such as the parking space needs to be within, say, 3 km of your home.


In the USA many people grumble if the city wants you to pay only a couple dollars a month in return for the privilege of being allowed to park along the side of the public streets, on top of a patch of asphalt that probably costs the city many times as much to maintain.

I've heard people complain that it's communist for the city to charge for parking. Because here in the USA socialism means, "Either giving free things to people who aren't me, or not giving free things to people who are me."


> In the USA many people grumble if the city wants you to pay only a couple dollars a month in return for the privilege of being allowed to park along the side of the public streets, on top of a patch of asphalt that probably costs the city many times as much to maintain.

Most municipal parking permits I have seen are more on the order of a couple of dollars a day for weekdays. That provides far more revenue than the cost of maintaining just the parking spaces themselves. In fact, parking enforcement is often the greatest expense in maintaining paid municipal parking, and I know a few cities in South Florida that ditched paid street parking because they noticed that nearly all the revenue was effectively going towards collecting the revenue.

> I've heard people complain that it's communist for the city to charge for parking. Because here in the USA socialism means, "Either giving free things to people who aren't me, or not giving free things to people who are me."

To me, paying for government services al la carte is a very libertarian arrangement. I don't know anyone who would call it "communism", but I have certainly encountered hypocrites who decry freebies for others while also decrying lack of freebies for themselves.


Where does the gasoline tax then go to? Are we just so numb to government pork that any new tax burden is immediately accepted as long as it 'sounds right'?


The gasoline tax goes to maintaining the roads that are owned by the entity that levies the gasoline tax. In many areas that's just the state and federal governments, and not one red cent of it will go to pay for the street you live on.

Municipalities frequently use property taxes to cover roads, but that's potentially a poor way to pay for the extra infrastructure costs associated with curbside parking. In major cities it would be downright regressive, since a lot of less-wealthy people don't own cars. It also fails to account for the fact that in denser areas there simply isn't room for everyone to own a car - and in such a situation it's not necessarily so great (and certainly more authoritarian) to expect everyone to pay for parking regardless of whether they'll be using it. And it fails to account for the fact that many people own cars, but acquire the location they use to store their car when they're not using it on the private market (perhaps by building a garage on their property, perhaps by renting a space in someone else's lot or garage).

It's unfortunate that Americans' way of thinking about taxes has become so distorted that they'll knee-jerk dismiss a tax they're not familiar with using weasel words like "pork", even when that tax is actually more equitable and economically efficient.


In the US, property taxes are probably more relevant, unless the road is a major one maintained by the state.

But the same principle applies, these street parking spaces are in front of residential property that's paying into the city's coffers, which the residents pay, directly if owners, through their rent if renters.


3 or 4 stories is fine. Lots of the old parts of towns here in Italy are that high, and it's a nice compromise, because you can pack more people in, but buildings like that don't jut out from their surroundings when they're all about that high.


I think this is a great point. In Oakland, places that could use six stories for a project to pencil out are hampered by 35-foot height restrictions. Reading zoning code is so depressing because it has not changed much (despite updates) in 100 years. It's amazing how fast web technology moves to accommodate the browser's API: our neighborhood API needs hacking.




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