Category Archives: regulation

DDOT isn’t going to introduce surge pricing in Chinatown …but they should!

“Holding parking prices at a fixed, hourly rate makes parking too cheap in times of high demand and too expensive in times of low demand. Which is why it’s nearly impossible to park near the Verizon Center on Friday nights and metered spots are deserted in off-peak hours. Varying prices based on when a driver reaches a spot can address both problems.”

Read the rest at Washington Post.

DC planners to create more group houses for millennials

Eric Fidler has the scoop at Greater Greater Washington:

The Office of Planning submitted the draft amendment for the Southeast Federal Center Overlay Zone, which covers about two blocks west of the Navy Yard. The proposal would let developers make buildings taller and with a higher Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as long as that 8% of the “bonus” area were three-bedroom units.

The Office  of Planning hopes that they can add more housing for families by adding regulations that create incentives to build more large units than they otherwise would.

So much room for activities

OP will probably be successful in adding additional three-bedroom units to the market, but it’s unlikely that the new regulations will achieve their stated goal.

As I’ve noted before, approximately 57% of D.C. households consist of a solitary person occupying a unit or home. However, our current housing stock doesn’t reflect our demographics.

Lots of D.C.’s young people live in what were designed as single-family units in a shared setting with other adults. A three-bedroom is substantially cheaper than three one bedroom (or studio) apartments in almost every case, so they can save money by teaming up for a lease. Families will still have to compete with people looking to live with roommates when seeking housing, and that fact won’t change because OP wants it to.

If the Office of Planning wants to create more places for families to live, it should allow developers to build what makes sense for each project. This probably means building smaller units for the time being, but each new unit is one fewer person competing with families for existing larger units.

Was taxi deregulation a failure?

Catherine Rampell has a new opinion piece claiming that taxi deregulation is bad for consumers, doubling down on a previous piece in which she made the same claim. The lesson she draws from this is that Uber will eventually be bad for consumers as well.

Her first post was written in response to an IGM Chicago panel of more than 40 leading economists asked to respond to the following statement:

Letting car services such as Uber or Lyft compete with taxi firms on equal footing regarding genuine safety and insurance requirements, but without restrictions on prices or routes, raises consumer welfare.

The ideologically diverse panel unanimously agreed.

 Her first post didn’t include any sources that contradicted the panel, but her more recent one included links to three papers: one from a taxicab lobbyist group, one written by city planners for the Department of Transportation, and one by a McGill law professor. All three said taxi deregulation was bad for consumers.

 According to Rampell, allowing Uber and Lyft is really a repeat of earlier,  failed attempts to deregulate the taxi market, and, according to her three sources, we should expect the same, allegedly bad outcomes. She suggests cracking down on ridesharing services with taxi-style regulation.

 Using a paper from a lobbyist might suggest she’s scraping the bottom of the academic barrel, and raises a question: is Catherine Rampell accurately conveying the research on taxi deregulation?

 The short answer is no, at least if you’re interested in what economists say. According to a literature review conducted by Adrian Moore and Ted Balaker, the majority of economists working on this issue think taxi deregulation is a good idea, and has worked out well in practice.


In addition,  the primary problem she raises on her own is the exact one ridesharing applications address:

“…fares were relatively opaque and unpredictable; and consumers were reluctant to price-shop or interrogate drivers about their insurance and safety records. They just hopped into the first available cab.”

Uber and Lyft make money because they are able to easily pair drivers and customers, establish fair rates, facilitate payment, and ensure safety and insurance.

The conventional wisdom that taxi cartels decrease consumer welfare and competition makes things better seems to be right. It’s probably why so many people enjoy ridesharing services.