Lost in the electoral hoopla, there was a recent “tug of war” between the Bolivarian government and the people responsible for parking lots, which brought back to the public sphere a seldom talked about – but very, very annoying – problem in Venezuelan cities today: it’s really, really hard to find parking.
After the new Labor Law was approved by stealth, the National Association of Parking Lots’ Owners and Administrators (ANPAGE) found out that applying the new legislation would be too costly for them, so they decided to drastically reduce their working schedules (including closing on Saturdays), unless prices were raised. This, mind you, after a seven years freeze.
For those of you abroad: yup, even parking lot prices are state controlled in Bolivarian Venezuela. And it turns out your economics textbook was right: it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about rice, apartments for rent, sanitary pads or parking spots, the second you mandate a price that’s too low, shortages arise.
A statement from former Labor Minister Ricardo Dorado became the government’s official response: No, you can’t do that because that would mean “…a reduction in a public service”. Stirring stuff. (Life, liberty and the pursuit of a parking spot…)
When everything pointed to a big showdown between the two sides, the government caved in and tripled parking prices. Parking owners suspended the plan to reduce hours in return and everything went back to normal. Well, back to Venezuelan normal, anyway.
Finding a free place to park is still a nightmare for those living and/or working in the city. The few parking locations are constantly full, forcing drivers to park in unsuitable places (left in hands of cuidadores de carros) and leaving their cars vulnerable exposed to theft.
The problem is expected to get worse in the forseeable future: Constructions in our cities (like the capital Caracas) are growing at breakneck speed and parking lots are the ones paying the price for the lack of coherent urban planning.
9 thoughts on “Parking around town is hard to do”
I am not an urban planner nor do I work in that field. I am just tired of watching darts thrown in the wrong direction at the wrong target. Your last phrase: “for the lack of coherent urban planning.” misses the point completely.
There might be some or much lack of urban planning, but politicians (councilpersons, majors, etc,) are those responsible to set the go ahead signal and finance urban planning efforts. In San Cristobal, the last urban plan was developed in 1975, more than 37 years ago. No major or municipal council has decided to propose a new plan regardless the petition of urban planners, architects and concern citizens. In this regard, as in many others, copeyanos, adecos y chavistas are igualiiiiitos, the only difference is the t-shirt color.
I wasn’t blaming urban planners at all. As you said, local politicians have dropped the ball during decades by not adressing this vital issue, focusing mostly in their own interests instead.
mayors instead of majors, sorry.
Funny, I was just writing about parking price controls — in “free market” Chile! I realize the scope and process is very different, but the same ultimate result: Pedestrians, cyclists and transit users end up subsidizing parking for the motorists, while motorists quickly devour the underpriced resource and start complaining that they need more parking. I started writing a post last night about how even rich Chileans are vulnerable to the temptations of petro-populism. But why bother.
Pedestrians and cyclists are the perennial losers in Venezuelan (and probably in many other Latin American) streets and roads.
There are cyclists in Venezuela, outside of rural areas? Are they still alive? As a PSA we should probably contact them and tell them to stay home.
Either that, or commit them to a mental institution since they are likely suicidal. I honestly can’t think of a more dangerous city to be a cyclist in than Caracas. Kabul is probably safer.
nice article, Gustavo… loved the bolivarian version of the “pursuit of happiness” line.
Good stuff. It was about time the Chavernment let parkings charge more. I am incredibly pissed at wealthy friends I have who started “chillando” yet drive 4Runners and Fortuners and hate Chavez… Cada quien tiene su precio.
The parking garage business has become awful (I known this first hand) and the regulated prices alongside the all too generous fuel “subsidio” make the traffic problem worse then it should be, specially in Caracas and Valencia (in my experience).
Of course we can´t deny that since the parking garage business is so bad that none have been built as of late, and even worse, some existing parkings in some prime places owned by some of the “elite” (yes I I mean you Ricardo Cisneros, Movistar [formerly Telecel], Seguros Caracas and Co.) turned full floors of garages into offices and “depositos”, I have to ask: Why are three floors in Parque Canaima´s parking garage no longer parking?. The real culprit is of course this idiot Government, the problem is not only in urban planning and price regulation, but also in supervision and enforcement, how is it possible that the Chacao Municipality, a supposed example to follow, has not put an eye on these obvious violations going on in Torre HP, Parque Canaima, and others. These people turned parking spaces into office space about 5 years ago and nothing has ever been done in that regard…
“the Chavernment”. That’s brilliant. Can I borrow it?
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