That thing called “Parking”
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - October 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Part 1

There’s an interesting piece of news that cropped up over the weekend, about the Cebu City Council wanting to “monitor off-street pay parking.” I say, it’s about time. But it should not just be to monitor and implement that particular 2006 ordinance, but rather to review and update it as well. 2006 is already 16 years ago, and prices have already gone up by more than 50% since then. Maybe, the august body can also review whether the prescribed fees are still relevant, or even if these are justifiable at all!

I believe there is a need for such review in order to make the ordinance up-to-date as well as to ascertain whether it’s good or proper policy. On one hand, while the law tries to protect the consumer – in this case, the car owner or car driver, wouldn’t it be a case of selective protection, or even class legislation. True, it applies to all types of vehicles but more than 90% of those parking in off-street parking spaces are private cars. And it has no bearing at all to the 80% of citizens who do not own cars.

Of course, there are establishments that offer, “free” off-street parking – the department stores and the malls, for example, but even many of them collect parking fees, too. They have to do this because the construction of parking facilities costs a huge amount of money, making parking a form of economic goods, the cost of which needs to be recovered. If building owners can’t recover their investments for parking from fees, they’ll recover it somewhere else! There is no such thing as free parking – it has equivalent costs. And if off-street parking providers want to recover their investment, they should be allowed to do so without unreasonable restrictions. Otherwise, they will recover it somewhere else!

And who shoulders these parking investment costs? Those who don’t park at all! I have penned an opinion piece about this online at, with the title “Why free parking is anti-poor …” and boy, did I get a lot of questions from friends. You can read the whole article at But the cost and who pays is just a small part of it. Parking is a whole lot of a social issue that affects our lives, especially because we are complaining about a “traffic crisis.” Mayor Enrique Peñalosa of Bogota, Colombia, summed it all in his statement: "The only way to solve traffic jams is to restrict car use. And the most obvious way of restricting car use is restricting parking."

Parking needs to be thoroughly discussed – we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here. Think of this – “Cars are parked 95% of the time!” Many of us don’t know that, do we? Or how about this – “There is about four times the number of parking spaces as there are the number of registered cars in a city, but probably more than that.” We need to study these numbers carefully if we want to have a better parking policy. (To be continued)

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