Planning for parking, UCLA economist Donald Shoup writes, “is more a political activity than a professional skill.” And they fall particularly heavily on the poor, the group least likely to have access to cars. “People who are too poor to own a car pay more for their groceries to ensure that richer people can park free when they drive to the store,” wrote Shoup in the University of California’s ACCESS Magazine.

In any event, “free” parking is never free. A Milken Institute Review article considers who really pays for two types of free parking: shopping mall parking and curbside parking. The cost of mall parking is reflected in store rents, and higher rents are reflected in the prices of the goods and services the stores sell. City dwellers may think that curbside parking is free in front of their houses, but the value of the parking is capitalized in housing prices. One way or another someone always pays, often indirectly, in the form of higher prices for something else.

The enormous amounts of land and structures needed for parking almost guarantee that mispricing parking spaces will have substantial consequences on economic efficiency and societal welfare. The cost of constructing above-ground parking in a major American city runs about $24,000 per space, not including the cost of buying the land underneath it. An underground spot costs $34,000. Either way, a single parking space costs more than twice the median net worth of black and Hispanic households in America. http://wapo.st/1UjPJuq and http://bit.ly/29796Hg