AAA fights to keep unnecessary parking rules

by Herb Caudill

Many AAA members would be surprised to learn that their roadside assistance fees also go to fund a vigorous pro-asphalt, anti-environment lobbying effort. Now, the organization is also spending members’ money to advocate for antiquated car-centric urban policies that will keep DC’s transportation options firmly mired in the 1950s.

In last week’s Washington Post, upper Northwest activist Sue Hemberger and AAA lobbyist Lon Anderson argued against reforming the policy of government-mandated parking lots, which is a relic of America’s misguided transportation planning approach of 60 years ago.

How many of the organization’s 50 million cardholders know that their money has been spent to oppose the Clean Air Act, safety standards, airbags, mass transit, bike lanes, speed limits, and fines for running red lights? Now we can add zoning to the list of positions AAA has taken without talking to members who just want to get a tow if their car breaks down.

Parking minimums are a terrible idea for many reasons. Start with the fact that they simply don’t work.

You can force a housing developer to build parking spaces, but you can’t force a renter to rent them. It costs anywhere from $100-$300 per month to park in a garage, but only $35 per year for a residential curbside parking permit. Which would you choose? We’ve had parking minimums for decades, but the problem of spillover parking is still with us—because it costs so much less to park on public land than it does on private land.