The most effective way to address the parking problem in Hoboken is not necessarily to increase parking supply but rather to decrease parking demand.
The City of Hoboken currently issues a little over 13,000 residential parking permits for approximately 9,000 residential parking spaces. Thus, demand for parking is 1.4 times supply.
The reason for this imbalance is because Hoboken charges $15 per year for a typical residential parking permit. Therefore, anyone purchasing a residential parking permit gets a huge discount versus what the free market would otherwise charge. This encourages massive excess demand which in turn creates our parking problems.
Consider – a typical market rate garage charges $275 per month or $3,300 per year for a single residential parking spot. Now compare the market rate of $3,300 versus our city’s rate of $15.
Corner Cars, which encourages residents to share cars, helps reduce the parking demand problem. Corner Cars is helpful. However, we need a more drastic solution.
A better way to address the parking demand problem is to increase the price of a residential parking permit to get closer to the point where parking demand more closely mirrors parking supply. At supply and demand equilibrium the parking imbalance should disappear.
Admittedly, moving the residential parking price to the market equilibrium level may be too extreme for many residents. Therefore, we should gradually increase the cost of a residential parking permit. This would give residents time to make rational decisions about whether the benefits of maintaining a car in our city outweigh the costs.
On the other hand, increasing the supply of parking is not as effective in solving our problems.
First, Hoboken has a limited amount of space. Therefore, increasing the supply of parking by building a garage may come at the cost of building a park, a school or even a public swimming pool. This may be unacceptable to a lot of residents.
And second, increasing the supply of parking may ultimately attract even more cars into our city which causes other problems related to traffic, congestion, etc.
Finally, on a suspicious note, it is easy for a politician to say “I favor building a garage.” This sounds like he or she is really trying to do something to help solve our parking problems. But it is a lot harder to argue for an increase in residential parking rates because this sounds like raising taxes. Nonetheless, sometimes the better solution is the one that is less politically expedient.
In conclusion, for reasons stated, I would like to urge a demand side solution towards resolving our parking problems. This would involve gradually increasing the cost of our residential parking permits. I would suggest taking this approach before aggressively trying to expand parking supply.