The Parking Problem

Hat’s off to my colleagues Michael Mandel and Peter Coy for their timely cover story on the monumental challenges and efforts by Fed chief Ben Bernanke to stave off economic collapse.

On a much different note, some weekend reading, a colorful, sad and all-too-true piece in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about how our garages no longer hold cars. A University of California study finds some 75% of middle-class Los Angeles homeowners don’t keep their cars in their garages. Instead, they park them on the street, where lack of space has escalated to the point of fatal fights between neighbors. The trend of families having more than one car is a big contributor to the congestion as well.

I have to confess. I’m part of the problem. My family has three cars, only two drivers, and garage full of—much as the article describes—old VCRs and other crap we just can’t seem to part with.

The article goes on to describe the benefits of neutral party conflict resolution. The solution it doesn’t talk about, but has been sweeping my city, is permit-only parking. Oddly, as our recent Chicago addition of BusinessWeek pointed out, growth in cars per household seems to be intractable, in some cases, conservation efforts, like greater fuel efficiency, only make us drive more. We’re all going to have to learn to deal with fewer parking spaces, whether we clean out our garages or not.

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