You've heard it before: "These parking fees are killing business!"
What do you all think? Accurate statement or scapegoating?
I'm working in a fairly urban setting, but one that is competing with surrounding towns where they don't charge for parking. Obviously, the economy is poor right now, business is down, and there are more vacancies. Merchants, politicians, and others are pointing at the parking authority who (gasp) charges people to park, as the culprit.
The argument's converse(?) is equally potent, i.e., IF you allowed free parking, we would get more business.
Most planners know that free parking isn't free, and certainly larger cities where parking costs an arm and a leg don't have any problem "attracting business." But has anyone run across any studies for smaller downtown that actually show a *causal link* between paid parking and business attraction? Is free parking really a determinative factor? Or just a convenient scapegoat? And where is the evidence either way?