What if where you park, and how much you do or don’t pay for it, could benefit your community it multiple ways? How can cities and communities create a sustainable way of dealing with the supply and demand of free parking or metered parking? In this episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sits down with Donald Shoup, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department Urban Planning at UCLA, to discuss the unintended consequences of free curb parking and parking requirements.

In his book, The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup  urges cities to charge for curbside parking and use the proceeds to improve the neighborhood beyond the curb. Stroup also explains the surprising harm done by requiring new buildings to provide a minimum level of off-street parking. Let’s hear what you think about the relationship between parking and urban life. Answer our questions in the prompts below, or use them to start a conversation with friends offline. We’re here for the conversation.


1- Shoup sums up his book in three points. What are those three main points? What are some of the effects of requiring off-street parking everywhere? Does Shoup suggest that developers shouldn’t provide parking for future residents of the apartments? What is the role of the planner in the scenario? Can you predict anymore unseen consequences for free curb-side parking or requiring off-street parking for new buildings? What about the consequences for charging curb-side parking?


2- What city does Shoup first use as an example to illustrate the effects of charging for curb-side parking? Explain what happened when the money earned from curb-side parking was used to restore and clean sidewalls in that community. Would you be more inclined to visit a city which charged for parking but had clean community spaces? Is that something you would even consider before going? Does this reflect the results of Shoup’s example? Why do you (or why don’t you) think this is the case?


3- What aspect of Shoup’s research does Roberts praise as being “a fantastic application of economics?” How does this point reflect the positive effects that not requiring off-street parking for new buildings will have on poor people in the area?


4- Has Shoup convinced you that charging for curb-side parking could be a plus in your own community? Are you more willing to pay for curb-side parking if the money goes back to maintaining that community? Do you have any other reflections or related experiences to Shoup’s points?