This past weekend, I traveled to Houston to watch Chelsea play Club America in the World Football Challenge. When we were within a mile or two of the stadium, I began seeing signs stating that permits were required to park on the streets in neighborhoods near the stadium.
I was puzzled. After all, the ‘restricted’ roads were public, which means each resident of Arlington, TX, paid for them. Additionally, tax dollars funneled through the Texas Department of Transportation likely helped finance the construction of the roads. As such, how could the city of Arlington restrict parking access to individuals who lived in the neighborhood? I decided not to let it bother me.
That was until the stadium was in eyesight — the minimum charge for parking in lots up to a mile from the stadium was $20. I certainly have no problem paying the market price for a good or service I am in need of; the amount seemed fair enough considering I had paid $15 for parking a few weeks earlier at Warped Tour.
There is one option I failed to mention above, which seemed the most favorable to me: Rather than fork over my money to a large corporation or a church I am not affiliated with, I decided I would try and bargain with a local resident to obtain parking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t persuade the person I talked to to let me park in front of their house or on their property for a reasonable price, so I caved in and paid $25 to park at a church.
On the way to the stadium, I noticed the people selling parking spaces had permit numbers on the bottom of their signs. I finally understood what was going on! There was a reason I could not park in front of someone’s house or property–the city had likely made it illegal or difficult to do so.
A quick search on the internet yields these rules and regulations for parking near the stadium:
Lots must be paved and must not be in residential areas.
Parking lot operators must have liability insurance.
Lighting would be required for all lots.
A lot attendant would have to remain until one hour after events end.
Operators must submit site plans showing how the lots would be organized.
Vehicles must be able to leave the lot without requiring other vehicles to be moved.
The annual fee for registering a lot would be $150 for those with fewer than 50 spaces; $300 for lots with 50 to 200 spaces; and $400 for lots with more than 200 spaces.
By introducing these pointless rules and regulations, the City of Arlington is actually driving up the cost of parking near the stadium while providing itself with additional revenue! The law of unintended consequences strikes again.
To make matters worse, residents near the stadium are given up to five permits for parking on or near their property, which they can use as they see fit. A quick investigation reveals that residents are required to pay for their permits.
I suspect the reason the individual I talked to was unwilling to sell me a parking place was because they were scared I would steal their parking permit. If individuals were allowed to use their private property as they see fit without acquiring approval from the local government, they could sell parking spots and make an extra buck in this tough economy. Unfortunately, their local government has restricted this option by deciding to issue them permits instead, which are nontransferrable between strangers.
The moral of this story is that the best way to provide the public with the lowest possible price for a good or service is to promote competition in a free market by removing unnecessary rules and regulations. The City of Arlington is failing to do so, which explains the lack of competition and resulting prices.Published in