Why are parking spaces so expensive

Residential parking in cities - how expensive can it be?

A contribution by Uta Bauer and Tilman Bracher

Many cities are suffocating in traffic. In particular, the space required for parked cars is becoming an increasing nuisance. The number of registrations for private vehicles is increasing unchecked, vehicles are getting bigger and bigger. Parking management, d. H. The introduction of parking fees for short-term parking is a tried and tested instrument to control the scarce and valuable commodity of the public space. In so-called parking space management zones, residents receive a special permit in the form of a resident parking permit. However, its fee has so far been capped at a maximum of EUR 30.70 per year (GebOSt No. 265). A price that has no controlling effect and meanwhile in many inner-city residential areas means that the regulatory authorities surrender to the flood of cars, rescue workers can hardly get to their place of action and pedestrians and cyclists are at risk in their safety. Many cities in other European countries now show that there is a close relationship between parking space management and transport policy. In places where parking spaces are not free, car owners walk, ride bicycles or use public transport more often and save cities from searching for a parking space, because looking for a free parking space is not worthwhile.

In an international comparison, costs in Germany are very low

The upper fee limit for resident parking, which has not been adjusted since 1993, has now finally been overturned. In June, the Federal Council approved a draft law by the Bundestag, which came into force on October 1, 2020, which now authorizes the state governments to issue fee regulations for issuing residents' parking permits or to leave this to the municipalities themselves. Even the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) welcomes the reform and calls for prices to be graded according to income. The ADAC also expresses its approval, since municipalities can now react better to local conditions. As early as 2015, the Presidium of the German Association of Cities recommended that the fees be increased by up to 200 euros per year. In an international comparison, the costs for a resident parking permit in Germany are so far very low (Vienna: 120 or 90 euros p. A. Depending on the district, Marseille: 160 euros, Zurich: 290 euros, Amsterdam: 535 euros, Stockholm 827 euros).

Determination of the fee amount

Discussions are now beginning in many cities: How should the fees be measured in the future? What is fair, what makes sense in terms of urban and transport policy? The Road Traffic Act now states in Section 6a, Paragraph 5a, Clause 3: "In the fee regulations, the importance of the parking facilities, their economic value or the other benefits of the parking facilities for the residents can be adequately taken into account."

A new price for parking in front of the front door in the public street space can be determined via various accesses. Orientation for an appropriate amount of resident parking permits is provided, for example, by the intention to steer traffic policy, the price level of neighboring parking garages, municipal production and maintenance costs or the use and market value of the area (standard land value).

Significant differences between cities of different sizes and locations result from the orientation of the fee amount to the economic value of the area used:

  • Standard ground values, exemplary costs for a 12m2- Parking: Munich-Schwabing: 14,567 euros, Lüneburg: 5,495 euros, Schwerin: 5,066 euros. In purely mathematical terms, this would result in an annual rent (4% p.a., purchase price factor 25) in Munich-Schwabing of 583 euros p.a., in Lüneburg of 220 euros p.a. and in Schwerin of 203 euros p.a.
  • Production costs + management per parking space using the example of Berlin (cleaning and winter service) in the amount of approx. 220 euros p.a.
  • Comparison of the rent in neighboring collective garages / multi-storey car parks (Munich-Schwabing: 540 euros / month, Lüneburg: 210 euros / month, Schwerin: 65 euros / month)
  • Special usage fee for a market stall the size of a parking lot (Munich: 18 euros / day, Lüneburg: 14.40 euros / day, Schwerin: 4.20 euros / day)

The amount of the fee could, however, also be based on its impact on transport policy:

  • 1 euro / day, the signal price for discussions in public transport (365 euro ticket)

Think about different modalities

In addition to the level of fees, there are several other considerations to consider. Graduated prices make sense for environmental and socio-political reasons and can even be linked to one another. The vehicle weight is a factor that generally correlates significantly with the vehicle size and emissions. These vehicles are usually too expensive for low-income households.

Graduated prices would also be conceivable in a spatially differentiated manner. In some densely built-up Wilhelminian-style districts, there are 30 - 40 residential units on a property length of four parking spaces. Inexpensive resident parking permits only manage the shortage in these residential areas, they cannot control them. Some municipalities are therefore already allocating the allocation of resident parking authorizations (only one ID per household) or only issue as many authorizations as there are parking spaces in public spaces. The award is then linked to a first-class procedure or a waiting list. With all the different procedures, the administrative burden must of course always be taken into account.

Not to forget how a fee increase is communicated. A price of one euro per day for allowing the car to be parked in front of the door is - measured against the general cost of a car and the price fluctuations at the petrol station - more acceptable than the announcement of a tenfold increase in the fee. The use of the income can also have a decisive influence on acceptance. If the income disappears in the general municipal budget, the accusation of rip-off is in the room. However, the income could also be used for the purpose of financing multimodal mobility stations, more reliable and more comfortable buses and trains, for safe walking and cycling routes or to refinance the monitoring of traffic regulations.

Public space is valuable and has its price

It becomes clear that the fee for a resident parking permit will in future vary from municipality to municipality. The amount of the fee is ultimately a municipal policy setting that should be made in the context of urban and transport policy development perspectives. It will depend on which transport policy measures are currently being implemented (e.g. expansion of parking space management, expansion of the cycle path infrastructure) and how far the transformation process of a municipality has progressed with regard to the traffic turnaround.

From a transport policy point of view, a price of 365 euros per year or 1 euro per day seems to be acceptable in densely built-up inner cities. Measured against the market value of the space, this price is low and yet high enough to make you think about whether the car that is used sporadically is still worthwhile. Higher fees for parking are fair. In the 1980s, cities were still trying to prevent well-to-do families from moving to the surrounding areas, but this trend has now reversed. More and more wealthy households are crowding into the city with their cars. At the same time, it is unjustified to worry that many cities are now suddenly calling up this price. In the event of changes that affect the everyday routines of the population, it is advisable to allow time to adapt. A moderate and gradual increase within a defined period of time would be a good compromise.

Attractive public space is the breeding ground for a lively and urban city. The acceptance of higher parking fees increases if ideas and concepts for the redesign and reuse of the areas gained are developed and implemented quickly. In this way the quality of life gained can be experienced.

This article was published in slightly abbreviated form in the Difu magazine “Reports” 3/2020.