Terrible New Valet Parking Law In Saint Louis City
I can admit there was a problem with valet parking in the city of Saint Louis. Steve Patterson has covered the issue well over at Urban Review. I agree with all of his comments. Too many new restaurants, etc., were operating valet parking like they owned the street. But, in typical government fashion, the city has taken a jackhammer to a fly. Instead of enforcing a process by which certain areas can be dedicated for valet parking at certain times, and then writing tickets for people or companies who violate it (such as a new restaurant who just decides to install valet parking in front of their restaurant and removes parking to do so), the city has taken the opportunity to just regulate the entire industry. Absolute garbage.
The new law will require that every part-time high school kid who parks cars in the summer to give the city $100 (assuming the fee is set at the maximum legal limit) for the right to do so. Even worse is the option for the city to declare an entire part of the city (such as downtown) a “special valet zone” and then only allow one valet company (of the city’s choosing, wink, wink) to operate within that zone. So the city is going to limit competition within the industry, which always works out great. That is why economists use valet parking as the standard example of a natural monopoly in all the textbooks, because parking is a public good that does not operate under the law of supply and demand. (Sarcasm note: parking is not a public good.)
Licensing the people who park cars as valets is a bad idea that will limit youth employment. Regulating the entire industry is a terrible idea. Limiting competition within the industry is the worst idea of all.