Oh, that Portland Parade Sidewalk Crisis

Leave it to Portland Commissioner Leonard to make front page news about banning reserving sidewalks during the 100th anniversary of the Rose Festival Parade. Leave it to the vivacious mind of Steve Buckstein of Cascade Policy Institute to offer a free market solution by suggesting people pay the city for reserving sidewalks:

“[A]s Rose Parade day approaches, sidewalk space along the route quickly becomes scarce. Too many of us want to occupy the same spots along the route. How do we resolve the inevitable conflicts that result?

We can fight for sidewalk space, the strong pushing out the weak. We can duct tape off areas or rely on common courtesy. Or we can turn to the science that humans have developed to deal fairly with the allocation of scarce resources: economics. The economic law of supply and demand tells us that the more people want something the higher the price of that resource becomes.

But again, this being Portland, we might recoil at the thought of charging to occupy a space on a public sidewalk. But maybe not if we realize that charging could help solve two problems.
First, it could clear up who has the right to sit where along the parade route, reducing the potential for conflict”┬ŽAnd second, the money could go to the Rose Festival Association, which has had serious financial problems over the last few years.

A follow-up to Steve’s Oregonian letter might be, why not let the business owner be in charge of their sidewalk? After all they have to pay it’s maintenance.

As the ideas fly on how to tackle this life threatening issue, what is your idea?