Yesterday was the home opening for the Boston Red Sox. Being utterly apathetic about sports of any and all kinds, I did my best to avoid any and all accounts of it. (I still heard that they managed to win, though. Yippee.) But one of the stories did catch my interest.
As anyone who’s ever been to Boston knows, parking in Beantown is a colossal pain. Especially for special events like Red Sox games. A lot of entrepeneurially-minded property owners around Fenway Park take advantage of games to shut down their normal business and instead go into the parking business for the game — they make a hell of a lot more money that way.
One such place is Leahy’s Mobil Station, barely a block from the stadium. For the privilege of such a short walk, Leahy’s was collecting $90 per car.
So, how does the city feel about such entrepeneurship?
Mayor Thomas “Mumbles” Menino issued a statement saying he’s going to seek a city ordinance capping how much private lots can charge for parking. One of those city councilors called the rates “criminal,” and city officials are looking at ways to punish the lot owners — such as rigorous inspections, citations, and even pulling their parking licenses.
Pardon me, but when the hell did “cheap parking” become a Constitutional right? Especially “cheap parking to go see a baseball game?”
Here’s a simple test for the parking socialists: check out the lots that charge the most on game day. If they’re full, then they’re not charging too much. People who can not or will not pay that much will say “screw it” and find another way to deal with it. The lot owners are not sending armed attendants out into the street to force people to park there.
The real issue here is not that the prices are too high, but that the city isn’t getting their piece of the pie. They see some people making really good money, and are infuriated that they can’t get their hands on it. To be financially successful is a bad thing, and must be punished.
I’m a firm believer in the free market, and that’s exactly what this is: the lot owners have discovered that they can make a hell of a lot more money on certain days than others, and adjust their pricing to reflect “what the market will bear.” There is absolutely no coercion involved, and setting their prices too high will be its own punishment as would-be parkers will simply go elsewhere. If they manage to find the “sweet spot” where the number of people willing to pay equals the number of spaces they have to fill, more power to them.
And if it aggravates the hell out of the socialist-leaning (I’m being kind here) autocrats who run Beantown, so much the better.
(Bruce over at Mass Backwards — who desperately needs to finalize his move here to New Hampshire before he blows an aneurysm — has a pretty good take on this as well, but his language is typically NSFW. I really can’t fault Bruce for that, though; if I lived in Massachusetts, I’d be sorely pressed to refrain from cursing as well.)