How much does free private storage cost?

Over the past two weeks, my street has been under renovation. Two Thursdays ago, the Department of Transportation tore up the existing pavement, leaving what remained a chewed-up, muddy mess. They got around to repaving it yesterday.

This is one of the few times you’ll ever get to see a street completely clear; when they’re closed for parades or construction, you usually have barricades, cones, or emergency vehicles marring the view.

The street is 30 feet wide. What can you imagine doing with that much space?

St. Johns Place repaving no cars width

I can see a group of neighborhood kids playing a game of stickball, as once was the mode throughout the borough. Instead, almost half of that area is devoted to the free public storage of private vehicles.

Just as a mathematical exercise, let’s assume the parking lanes are 8 feet wide and a long block measures 750 feet. That means there is a total of 12,000 square feet of free parking space on a block. Let’s knock that down to 10,000 square feet to account for “no parking” zones in front of fire hydrants, schools, and churches.

St. Johns Place repaving with cars

The average cost of residential space in my zip code is $892 per square foot. That means the total value of the street space that the city gives away for free is nearly $9 million. And that’s on my block alone.

Of course, that doesn’t even take into account the quality-of-life issues germane to a car-centric environment. That remaining 14 feet of space in the middle of the road is useless to people unprotected by a steel cage; I’m guessing you can’t picture anything fun happening in the photo above, which I took this morning.

With a deal like that, it’s no wonder many residents get up in arms when a proposed improvement for all users threatens to “take away” even one of these spots.

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2 Responses to How much does free private storage cost?

  1. Eric McClure says:

    Based on your calculations, Keith, I worked out the monthly mortgage payment if everyone on the block had to buy a parking space rather than get one for free. Using a Toyota Prius as the average model, and allowing for a little space between cars, I calculated that there’s space for 78 cars on the block. Assuming that everyone had put down 20% for their spots, the monthly payment per spot, at a 4% interest rate, would be about $437. Seems about fair.

  2. Harley N says:

    From an ex punch ball player, how would you know where 1st and 3rd base are? We would assign them i.e.: blue Ford is 1st. Second was the sewer cap. But all streets,urban and suburban do look better empty.

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