Yup, if Minnesota State Senate candidate Peter Wagenius has his way. At a candidate forum last night he proposed “per stall parking taxes”. Say, $100 a year for every spot in your driveway or parking lot, whether you park there or not.

The district in question is senate district 59, which is essentially northeast Minneapolis and the University of Minneasota. This is not an area with any shortage of parking, other than around the university. Most of the district is neighborhoods of single family homes with plenty of parking, on street and off. The University has literally acres of parking and charges a reasonable fee for same. The only place where parking is in short supply is around Cedar Square, a 1960s vintage “New Town in Town” project that never made it in the marketplace and became public housing. The developers way underestimated the parking needs of their tenants, and for decades since residents and visitors to that neighborhood had to fight for parking.

What would be the implications of Peter’s parking tax proposal? Well, It’d bring in a few millions of $$$ for the city, allowing the mayor to hire more staffers for his office while laying off firefighters. But the seniors who put in a big driveway so their whole family could visit without parking in the street will pay several hundred dollars a year for those spaces, even if they use public transit and don’t even own a car anymore. Same for the struggling small business that bought a property with way more parking space than they need, and then let their neighbors without off street parking use their lot so they don’t get towed when the city plows the street. Whether they use or need those parking spots or not, they’ll pay and pay for them. And if your a consciencious gearhead who’s put in a big driveway so you don’t clog the streets with your vehicles, you’ll pay through the nose too. University students and apartment dwellers? The parking tax will just get passed on in even higher tuition and rents.

It’s no surprise to hear this nonsense coming from Peter Wagenius- He’s a policy wonk for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who hits the taxpayers up every couple years to buy him a new Prius to use for his mayoral (and personal) transportation needs. And to one up the other mayors who had ordinary Priuses, he had the taxpayers pay thousands of $$$ more to convert the Minneapolis Mayoral Prius to a plug in hybrid. Then it wouldn’t start and the warranty was voided because it’d been modified. Haven’t heard what the bill was for fixing that mechanical mess, or maybe they parked it in a back corner of the city garage’s back lot next to the electric glorified golf cart R.T. had the city buy for his underlings to drive. Said electric “car” has yet to be seen on the streets of Minneapolis.

What Peter has proposed is incredibly stupid public policy- vehicles don’t cause any significant public cost when they’re parked. Tax us for the wear we cause on the roads, but not for parking!

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