Glen Cove confronts high cost of free parking

City ponders solution for cars hogging spots in downtown garage

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke (City of Glen Cove, Getty)
Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke (City of Glen Cove, Getty)

 

Glen Cove officials might want to put Donald Shoup’s seminal book “The High Cost of Free Parking” on their holiday shopping lists.

The Nassau County city has long maintained a 548-space garage where motorists can park at no cost for as long as they want. Not surprisingly, some do exactly that.

“Some cars have been sitting in there with covers and dust an inch thick because they just have been sitting in the garage,” Mayor Timothy Tenke said at a mid-December meeting about the Brewster Street garage, according to Newsday.

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Shoup, a professor at UCLA, has been writing and speaking for years about the unintended consequences of free parking. He advocates pricing parking high enough that about 15 percent of spaces are available at any time, so drivers will not circle for spots — and thus, burn fuel, pollute the air, increase traffic and waste time.

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Glen Cove, a city of 27,000 on Long Island’s North Shore, is finally getting the idea: It will lease 75 spots in the garage to Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty, which is building a mixed-use development next door, for $65 each per month.

But business leaders are worried that the remaining 531 spots will not be enough to accommodate visitors to its downtown stores and restaurants. City officials are working on a plan to limit parking to two hours for 17 spots. It’s not exactly a Shoupian solution, but it’s a start.

“We don’t want people to drive around the downtown area and not find any parking and then move elsewhere,” Patricia Holman, executive director of the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District, told Newsday.

[Newsday] — Erik Engquist