Dear Winslow, parking minimums are killing your tax base.

If you, dear reader, were to ask an economist, urbanist, environmentalist, or libertarian “If you could make one change to your city’s ordinance, what would it be?” One common answer you will hear is “Repeal parking minimums!”

There are a multitude of powerful arguments for municipalities to repeal these outdated mandates from various viewpoints and interest groups across the political spectrum. For this letter, I shall focus on the vast economic damage that parking minimums cause to each town.

In fiscal year 2024, Winslow is set to raise $15.7 million of funds through property taxes — roughly half of all funds the town appropriates for the year — an incredibly important funding source. With the townwide revaluation that occurred in 2023, the tax burden shifted from commercial to residential, as the valuation of residential properties increased quicker than commercial properties over the past 15 years as a result of the 13,000 unit housing shortage in central and western Maine.

Naturally, residents were (and still are) angry about the increase to their property tax bills this shift caused. If the town is to rectify this issue, not only must it contribute to constructing more housing, but financially productive housing.

The financial productivity of a plot of land is measured by its value per acre. In short, the more densely developed a plot of land is, the more effective it is at generating taxes to pay for the services and infrastructure it is provided.


Off-street parking mandates deeply hamstring this important statistic by guaranteeing vast swathes of land stay underdeveloped. If Winslow officials would like to talk further about this, please reach out to me! Alas, I don’t have enough room in this letter to dive deeper, but here’s an example of a bad ordinance straight from Winslow’s code.

Does a dentist — one, singular person — need *six* parking spaces?

No. They do not.


Jacob Lavarnway


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