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Pitch

Over time, gradually reduce number of permits sold and charge market rates for on street parking. Car-sharing will meet most car-needs.


Description

Summary

Multi year revenue neutral plan will substitute property tax revenues with parking fee revenues.  By slowly reducing the number of parking permits issued and charging more for parking, many will voluntarily forgo car-ownership and choose to use car-sharing, transit, bicycles and walking for their transportation needs.

Parking permits will be priced based on the supply of parking and the income of the applicant.  High income drivers will pay a lot for parking while low income users will receive free or low cost parking permits as well as free transit passes.

We are currently seeing an explosion of new transportation technologies and processes including, but not limited to one-way car-sharing, transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber, along with transit technologies that are radically improving public transit.   Car use accounts for more than 20% of carbon emissions.  By substituting car-ownership for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, dramatic reductions in carbon will be achieved.

This proposal supports the City of Somerville's Somervision Comprehensive Plan which calls for better managing the City's parking resources.

Overall any fees raised above the cost of administering the program will reduce property taxes creating an essentially revenue-neutral program.  This program supports the City of Somerville's Somervision Comprehensive Plan which highlights parking charges in several places.  This plan goes further however by returning the excess fees to residents through reductions in property taxes. 


What actions do you propose?

Managing parking to reduce demand can be achieved with existing technologies.  The barrier at the moment is political. The key piece of the plan involves small incremental changes.  Parking costs would be raised every year by 10% for the first five years, and 20% per year after that.
The other key political piece would dedicate all net new revenues to reducing existing taxes. 

 


Who will take these actions?

The policy will be undertaken by the City of Somerville.  By discouraging car-ownership, Somerville will become a center for transportation entrepreneurship.  Many new transportation services will see the City as a prime market and test bed for their products.  This will create a virtuous cycle where reduced car-ownership and new services will feed on each other to create a sustainable, low-carbon transportation footprint.


What are the key challenges?

Car use accounts for more than 20% of carbon emissions.  By substituting car-ownership for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, dramatic reductions in carbon will be achieved.


What are the key benefits?

Car ownership is extremely expensive; yet Somerville has a growing number of alternatives to private car ownership.  These include Lyft, Uber, Zipcar, Relay Rides and NextBus among others.   These, and other businesses not yet created will see Somerville as a prime market for innovation and product testing.  Essentially we will see a rich array of transportation optons.

Furthermore, as parking becomes less utilized the road-space will be able to be re-purposed for bus-rapid-transit (buses with their own lanes) and first class protected bicycle facilities.  These will also create a circle of virtue where those who choose to can live a low-carbon, low-cost, car-light lifestyle.


What are the proposal’s costs?

As conceived the proposal is revenue neutral.  Parking revenues above those needed to implement the proposal would be used to reduce property taxes for Somerville Homeowners.  However, some of the revenues could be used to support transportation innovation and creativity through competitions and prizes like this one.


Time line

The program can be implemented immediately.  Parking costs would then be raised every years by 10% for the first five years, and 20% per year after that. 


Related proposals

Value not set.

References