Everyone -can- Win

Providence has its problems, to be sure. Just ask Forbes magazine, if you don’t believe me. However, it is still possible to find a solution that’s a win for everyone. At least, I’m going to give it a shot.

Here’s the idea: Sell on-street parking permits, good for a year.

In case you don’t see the awesomeness of this idea right off, let me try to explain. The current fiscal crisis means that tax revenues are down. In the game of musical chairs that is RI politics, it’s city and town governments who have been left without a chair as the music stops. Which is really too bad, because local government is the one I really count on to provide police, fire, teachers, and sanitation.

Street parking permits would be a source of revenue to the city, which desperately needs some cash. And, since the permits are good for a year, this is a permanent source of funding for the city. Because there’s nothing that compels you to buy one, it’s not a regressive tax, and is therefore kind to poor people.

Of course, this would have to be enforced, but our police already drive around and enforce parking regulations, so this really isn’t anything different. If you have a permit, great. If not, you still get a ticket.

I realize that some of our streets are really not wide enough for parked cars on both sides. That’s fine. Please don’t see this as a cars/no cars dichotomy. We can decide on a block by block basis what the parking regulations are going to be, so difficult neighborhoods can be avoided. No matter what, we’ll earn more than the zero dollars we make right now.

And, at least for some people, there are some additional upsides. Many people will want to use the new regulations to get themselves a yard. This will usually require jackhammering the existing concrete or asphalt, and then landscaping. Which means much needed jobs, in areas of the economy that have been hit hard lately.

And, this could lead to increase in green space. This should be good for all of us, because green space absorbs heat and water more effectively than parking lots do. This decreases flooding concerns, decreases runoff into the bay, and generally serves to cool the city. That’s good for everyone.
Finally, increased amounts of green space provide an opening to take advantage of some of the excellent work being done in Providence with gardening, farmers’ markets, and local food.

So even if you do nothing, you could end up with a city that is better funded, has less unemployment, and is cooler. I count that as a win.

3 thoughts on “Everyone -can- Win”

  1. I’m absolutely all for this! I think the best way to sell the ‘permits’ though would be to have the DMV sell them along with car registration, maybe even have it as a holographic sticker on your license plate, like the registration tag, but with a little icon of the Providence skyline with a moon over it. It shouldn’t be cheap, either, but it has to beat the cost of a few $40 tickets.

    The advantage of distributing the tag via the DMV registration process is that it would force out-of-state students and and the residents who register their cars out-of-state (and many do, to avoid our taxes and fees) to register and insure their cars here. Not only would the state/city get the revenue from the parking sticker, there would be a -lot- more registrations (at $60 a pop), and a lot more customers of local insurance companies, since these out-of-staters would have to insure their cars here.

    The DMV, as nasty and backward as it is, already has the infrastructure to handle processing fees and distributing and tracking the permits, whereas the city would have to hire people if they wanted to ‘roll their own’ permitting program.

  2. In short….

    If the car is on the street, it’s not on the lawn.

    If the lawn is not a parking lot, it doesn’t need to be concrete.

    If the lawn gets replanted, you have more green space.

  3. I agree with you completely, I’m just trying to figure out the connection between parking passes and people building more green space.

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