After three years of never needing one because I lived in Point Breeze, last week I trekked down the Broad Ridge Spur to the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new Customer Service Center, to apply for a Residential Parking Permit. The lady behind the window was very confused; my block doesn’t actually have permit parking, but Girard Avenue around the corner does, and also has available parking spots nearly 24/7, which my block very much does not. After a few minutes of back and forth, I paid my $35 and came away knowing I’ll never have to park more than a block away from my apartment, at least for the next 12 months.
In a remarkable coincidence, this week City Council’s Streets Committee took up the issue of raising the cost of parking permits. Today, an RPP costs $35 for the first year, and $20 in every subsequent year. This new bill would raise that cost to a flat $35 for the first car registered at a household. A second car registered to the same unit will be $50, a third car $75, and any additional cars after that would be $100. PPA asked for the hikes because it says the revenue collected from permits now does not cover the cost of administering the permit program.
Now, that may seem like a fairly dramatic hike, but again, those numbers are all annual fees. Even at the $100 level, that works out to $0.27/day, which would not even get you 10 minutes in a typical Center City metered spot. Also, that $100 is for four or more cars at one residence. If you are keeping more than three cars on the streets of your neighborhood, and those cars are not somehow generating revenue (out of which you can pay your pennies for a permit), then You. Are. An. Asshole. And the extra $65/year you pay, over what those of us with only one car pay, is your Asshole Tax, which you are paying to our broke city (and stingy Commonwealth) for the privilege of being an asshole. It sure as heck isn’t a lot of money, either for you individually, or in aggregate for the PPA. It’s sure as heck not market price for the 300 square feet of land your car occupies. It’s rarely a Shoupian market-clearing price for parking; it might be in Francisville, but it’s definitely not in Fishtown. If $35/year, or $100/year is really the difference between your car being financially viable or not, then you are close enough to the edge that you probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place. In any event, please don’t waste my time or yours by asking me to have sympathy for you.
As it happens, not even the limited benefits of $35/year parking are coming to my block anytime soon; too many of the households on my block are Temple students with their cars registered elsewhere, and because of that it’s unlikely that I could get the 51% needed to sign the petition to instate permit parking. Cars registered elsewhere are completely ineligible for permits at any price, a stance which I’m sympathetic to, but seems to create perverse incentives in cases like mine. After all, the owners of those cars unquestionably live on this block, with leases that are legally identical to mine. Also, there are plenty of cars that park here that I suspect are parking here for fast, frequent transit access to Center City. There should be a way to balance the desire to have cars properly registered with the desire to have students buy into expanding the permit regime. But one fight at a time. I’ll take this round of permit hikes, and more beyond that if the city ever so desires.