The comments on recent posts are full of thoughtful challenges that I hope to address. I'll start with this one:
Aside from that, the flat statement that cheap on street parking hurts businesses is absurd.
Well, no. But, first, you have to define "cheap."
In the context of parking, cheap means underpriced. Underpriced is not some vague, I-know-it-when-I-see-it concept. It's simple economics: parking is underpriced if demand exceeds supply. Parking is properly priced at a price that creates an equilibrium between supply and demand. Put more plainly, parking is properly priced at a price where occupancy is a little below 100% -- when there is a vacancy or two each city block.
Imagine a motel that's at 100% occupancy every night. Any owner in her right mind would conclude that prices are too low. She'd be leaving money on the table not to raise prices.
With parking spaces, it's not only a matter of lost revenue. Without regular parking vacancies, turnover is low. The consequence to businesses of low-turnover is that people who want to shop in a commercial district can't find spaces to park. And, that hurts business.
In different areas at different times, the price that's high enough to ensure turnover is different. What's cheap around St. Mary's place during a Red Sox game is not the same as cheap when the Sox are out of town, which is not the same as cheap in Newton Centre during the weekday lunch crunch.
But the analysis is the same: cheap parking = low turnover = less business.