A way to eliminate subsidies:

The Free Market Transportation Ordinance

1. Obtain support of environmental, business, and civic groups for a city policy to eliminate subsidies to automobiles and trucks. Explain how all travel modes will benefit, even people who choose to continue traveling by car.

2. Approach an environmentally conscious city and ask the City Council to pass the following:

It is the policy of the City of ____________ to not subsidize, require the subsidy of, nor support the subsidy of, automobile and trucks. The City departments are directed to write draft plans and draft revised ordinances for implementing this policy.

3. After this policy has been approved, it should be easier to pass the Free Market Transportation Ordinance (below) or equivalent. Actually, a number of ordinances would need to be changed so that they do not contradict this one.

To be submitted to city councils

1. General principle and general taxes

The City of ____________________ (Government) shall not require a person, other than those who either own a motor vehicle or purchase a motor vehicle product or service (User), to provide for motor vehicles1, either directly, indirectly, or through taxation.2 Only public money from accounts that are wholly obtained from User(s) can be used to provide for motor vehicles.3 Accounts that provided for both motor vehicles and other sources will continue to fund other sources.4 Any monies that remain in the accounts which are prevented from being spent by this ordinance, including interest, shall be returned to the taxpayers.5 "Service" used herein is not to be construed as contracting for the provision of transportation (e.g., delivery fees, bus fares)6, but does include fares for road usage7. "Provide for motor vehicles" includes, but is not restricted to, parking for motor vehicle(s), roads for motor vehicles, any other facility8 for motor vehicles, and all expenses of Government that would not occur or would become unnecessary if motor vehicles do not exist9.

2. Accommodation on private property

With respect to private property owners10 or businesses in general, Government shall not require the providing, known herein as Accommodation, of parking for motor vehicle(s), roads for motor vehicles11, or any other facility for motor vehicles, either directly, indirectly, or through taxation. Government shall not have an imposition or increase of payments or imposition or change in requirements of any kind if Accommodation is not met, or is less than any amount.12

3. Low density zoning (regional accommodation)

With respect to private property for an area that is not zoned for agriculture or open space13, Government shall not restrict the use14 of property for the purpose of traffic mitigation15 or motor vehicle parking mitigation16, except that Government may impose restrictions of access of motor vehicles to property, including but not limited to: specifying a maximum number of parking spaces; specifying a maximum number of vehicles using the property; and/or imposing of fees for access of each motor vehicle, an average of motor vehicles accessing said property, and/or on each motor vehicle or average above a certain amount.17

With respect to the aforementioned property, Government shall not: use Floor Area Ratio18 or building volumes to restrict the use of property; regulate building dimensions for the purpose of traffic mitigation or motor vehicle parking mitigation, excluding regulation for building height and/or recessing buildings from surrounding property or naturally occurring object; or regulate the number of buildings nor the number of dwelling units, either per land area or per property lot, unless the specified number of buildings or dwelling units is zero in accordance with other laws.19

4. Ability to charge for accommodation

Anyone providing Accommodation at their own free will is free to charge direct Users of the Accommodation, without Government interference of the price or terms of contract, subject to other laws regulating the free market.20 Government providing Accommodation can charge direct Users of the Accommodation.21 Government is encouraged to charge so that, as a minimum, the cost of the Accommodation is recovered from its direct Users.

5. Fares on existing roads

With respect to any road that it owns, Government may charge Users fares for road usage. Government is encouraged to charge market value, including demand pricing, as determined by common business practices.

6. Parking for handicapped

This ordinance shall not apply to Government requirement(s) for a certain use (e.g., handicapped) of parking space(s) that actually exist22.

7. Street parking control to property owners

Property owners shall have the exclusive right to use, rent or lease any parking space, or portions thereof, on any public road that is immediately adjacent to their property, in compliance with any parking ordinances, if parking meters are not installed at the time of passage of this ordinance, and if notice is posted of any limitation imposed by the property owner23. This ordinance shall not limit the rights of Government to impose limits on parking or altogether abolish the ability to park in such places.

8. Bicycle, Pedestrians prohibitions

Government shall not prohibit pedestrians and bicycles from any road that is not a freeway.24 "Freeway" used herein is the definition used by the Streets and Highways Code.

9. Accounting priority for spending User Accounts

[To be written: This section will ensure that if not enough money from Users is generated, that the priority will be for safety (traffic enforcement) instead of road construction]

10. Temporary borrowing of non-User Accounts

[To be written: While the ordinance would start immediately, it will take time for the accountants to perform the necessary tasks of identifying User costs and non-User costs. Until then, the User Account can borrow money from the non-User account. (Note: "backtracking" of accounts is frequently done by government as a means of balancing budgets). The maximum amount of borrowing is to be specified as a decreasing percentage over time, and all the money must be paid back, with interest.]

11. Definitions

"Motor Vehicle" used herein is the definition used in the Motor Vehicle Code, except that buses25 shall be excluded for purposes of this ordinance.

12. Attempts to contravene the policy.

For any future ballot measure that if passed will contradict this ordinance in any way, notice must be given in the ballet information pamphlet, immediately underneath the title of the measure and printed the same font and size as the title, the words "Does Not Conform to Free Market Principles; Will harm trains and/or transit; Will decrease air quality ".26


This ordinance does not include pollution fees which need to be regionally implemented. It leaves for subsequent implementation the equalizing of property taxes for roads and industry, and substitution of some general taxes from User fees.


1 Guideway vehicles are not motor vehicles according to the Vehicle Code, and buses are excluded by sentence at bottom.

2 Sentence will not accomplish very much with the current situation. It is more of an introduction. However, it sets a fundamental principle in case unforeseen future taxes are contemplated for automobile subsidies, e.g., a "head" tax.

3 Prohibits the following for roads: sales taxes, property taxes, assessment districts for traffic mitigation levied on property, and others. Guideways are not motor vehicles, and buses are excluded by sentence at bottom.

4 Effectively allows spending all the sales tax for transit among counties that have a combination transit and road sales tax.

5 The case of Santa Clara County.

6 Prevents using the truckers argument that "everyone benefits from the service provided by trucks" and thus nullifying this ordinance.

7 "service" is only for the person or company actually doing the transporting.

8 Interchanges, signal lights, etc.

9 This includes auto-related police time, about 40% of Police Department costs, city traffic engineering department, school crossing guards and other expenses (see "Huge City Subsides for Autos, Trucks").

10 While property and similar tax subsidies are eliminated in the previous paragraph, this paragraph is for the elimination of laws that require parking and other facilities to be provided.

11 This paragraph eliminates assessment districts and developer fees for regional roads.

12 Prevents a city from simply stopping a building from being built if it deems that not enough parking spaces are provided, or a suggested traffic mitigation fee not paid.

13 There might be other types of zoning that should be included here: to exclude them from elimination of low density zoning for traffic mitigation.

14 "use" used here, practically speaking, refers to types and sizes of buildings. The next clause makes sure that "use" used here does not refer to automobile usage.

15 Prevents a city from stopping a building from being built because of low density zoning made for traffic mitigation purposes. Note that zoning for type changes (agricultural land, open space, residential, etc.) is unaffected. Other types of zoning within a type (building height, recess from street) would probably not be effected, although seldom are a conflict in most areas. Conflicts have in the majority of cases have involved Floor Area Ration limitations and forced parking spaces.

16 Forced parking

17 Government currently has the power to prohibit any or all motor vehicle(s) from any public road in its jurisdiction. In contrast, bicycles and pedestrians can only be prohibited from freeways.

18 The only purpose of the widely used Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to my knowledge is traffic mitigation.

19 Eliminates the prohibition of "Granny Homes" and other artificial limits on housing.

20 A recent case occurred that a business with "inadequate" parking wanted to reduce the demand for parking by charging for it, but was prevented from doing so by the city.

21 Ideally, 100% of the costs of a road, parking lot, etc. should be paid for by direct users. A gas tax only indirectly charges users, and ends up subsidizing new road construction by users of existing roads. It forces the subsidy of new roads and new lanes for car commuters (the usual case) by those who only use their car on weekends, or off-peak. Less than 3% of new roads can pay for themselves from a fare: they are not economically viable.

22 Handicapped and/or carpool reserved spaces are ok if the parking is provided.anyway.

23 This paragraph is to satisfy the concerns of homeowner groups, and can be a great selling point to the public. It makes parking more efficient (money is spent getting a parking space, instead of time being spent looking for a parking place). Probably it will give rise to a parking-vending industry. It is advantages to non-car owners, who can sell the usage of the parking space in front of their property which they do not need. The important point is this will eliminate the "free" street parking in most downtown, high density areas, and decrease car usage spent looking for a parking space.

24 This is identical to existing law. The problem is that, because of a legal loophole in the Vehicle Code, too much leeway is allowed local entities regarding what is a freeway. They can currently call the street in front of a school a freeway if the school has no driveways. A dirt road can also be a freeway. The next sentence patches the legal loophole.

25 Prevents using ordinance to stop subsidies to bus transit. The word "transit" should not be used, since attempts were made to define a private automobile with two occupants as "transit". Guideways are not motor vehicles as used by the vehicle code. If the term "guideways" is included anywhere, then the following clause needs to be included to keep a city from defining a "busway" or HOV lane as "guideway", which was attempted previously: "mechanically guided guideway that is not steered, as for a railroad track,"

26 This is optional, and you may think of a better way to prevent contravening this ordinance with future sales tax proposals for freeways.


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