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How Much Should Parking Cost?

Seattle will soon charge more for parking during hours when demand is higher, the Seattle Times reports.

It's the latest city using market pricing to aim for the "Goldilocks principle" of city parking:

The price should be cheap enough that most of the metered spaces and city parking lots are always almost full.

But it shouldn't be so cheap that spaces are entirely full, leaving drivers frustrated and adding to congestion as cars circle endlessly looking for a place to park.

We wrote that last year, when San Francisco rolled out a high-tech parking system that changes rates constantly based on demand for parking spaces in city lots and at metered spaces.

Lots of cities are adopting variations on this theme. They're heavily influenced by a UCLA economist named Donald Shoup, who wrote an influential book called The High Cost of Free Parking. (If you love the idea of market-based parking prices, you can become a Shoupista on Facebook.)

Seattle is using a slightly less high-tech solution than San Francisco. But by next year, rates in the city will vary block by block, and by time of day. Current rates top out at $2.50 per hour; the new top rate will be $4 per hour, and could rise another buck or two over the next year.

Hat tip: Marginal Revolution