"Cars are often useful and sometimes essential, even in semi-urban places like parts of Athens. The problem in Five Points is not so much cars themselves and not even parking as such. Rather, it’s the failure of the private market in parking that has locked the neighborhood in a senseless state of restrictions destructive of its potential and antithetical to its basic character.
I’ll write now specifically about Five Points, but this very casual case study quite obviously bears similarities to many other places. Each business in Five Points owns its own parking spaces and prohibits their use by patrons of other businesses. Some proprietors more aggressively police their lots than others. And some, like Earth Fare (our local grocery store) have a greater need to reserve for customer use the closest places to park.
There used to be a row of public parking in front of an apartment building with ground-level retail. But the proprietor has engaged in lengthy and wasteful litigation and so far “won” the right to privatize these spaces. He is the most active enforcer of his parking, charging money to park unless one is visiting one of the few stores that still remain in his building. While he has unwisely made himself the subject of active dislike by many locals, I don’t blame him for fighting for spaces in a neighborhood in which all the other businesses have exclusive parking. Not smart business, but understandable.
What we have is a tragedy of the anti-commons, a situation in which excessive private ownership actually makes everyone, including the property owners themselves worse off. If parking were shared among businesses, open to all but perhaps metered or otherwised priced to reduce demand, then the spaces could be used more beneficially. "
And, relatedly, check out this student paper about the Five Points parking situation.