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Nanny State of the Week: Businesses can’t sell parking spaces to Braves fans

By   /   July 4, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 86 of 121 in the series Nanny State of the Week

Residents and businesses in Cobb County, Georgia, were fleeced by their local government to help pay for the construction of the Atlanta Braves’ new home.

Now, some of those same people are being told by the local government that they won’t be able to use the stadium’s location as a way to make a little extra money.

Shutterstock image

NO PARKING: Cobb County passed a new ordinance banning businesses located near the new SunTrust Park from selling parking spaces during events at the stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this week that Cobb County quietly passed a new ordinance banning businesses located near the new Braves stadium from selling parking spaces during events at the stadium.

Here’s the money quote from the Journal-Constitution story on the new ordinance:

“This irks the (heck) out of me,” said (Fred) Beloin, who has previously tangled with the county over zoning around the stadium, and was unaware of the ordinance until told about it by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter. “They say they’re increasing my property value and then they do everything in their power to make sure I get no benefit out of it.”

It’s not just Beloin, though. The Journal-Constitution counted up the parking lots for businesses within a half-mile of the new stadium (the radius spelled out in the ordinance) and found more than 10,000 spots.

It’s a story that’s one part nannyism – government shouldn’t be able to ban anyone from letting other people park on their property, there’s no public safety issue here – and at least equal parts (probably more) straight-up cronyism.

The Braves, of course, are the only beneficiaries here.  By forcing everyone to park in stadium lots, the team will have a monopoly on parking revenue and will be able to charge whatever they please – and because the new ballpark is located in suburban Atlanta and will have limited access to public transportation, pretty much everyone will be driving to the game.

The ordinance was requested by the Braves, the Journal-Constitution reports. The team says it’s about public safety because apparently fans’ vehicles will only be safe and sound if those fans pay $40 to park in a lot owned by the team.

Image from Wiki Commons

TAKE ME OUT TO THE PARKING LOT: SunTrust Park, which will be the Braves home field starting next April, cost taxpayers in Cobb County more than $400 million.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine how the residents of the Atlanta metropolitan area get by on a day-to-day basis without being able to park their cars in lots owned by professional sports franchises – they must constantly live in fear of having their cars stolen, despite that fact that Cobb County reported fewer than four vehicle thefts per day in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.

The team also says it plans to partner with owners of parking lots inside the half-mile radius, but that’s also a dubious claim. Saying you want to “partner” with someone after you got the government to make it illegal for them to do anything except “partner” with you is not partnering at all.

(As an aside: the county commissioner who drafted the parking ban ordinance, Tim Lee, is facing a run-off election on July 26, and Lee’s handling of the whole stadium debacle has been a centerpiece of the campaign.)

SunTrust Park, which will be the Braves home field starting next April, cost taxpayers in Cobb County more than $400 million.

The county government threw so much money at the Braves’ new ballpark that it had to raise taxes in order to keep county parks open for the public – a move that surely says more about the priorities of Cobb County officials than anything else could.

The stadium came with the usual promises of economic benefits for the surrounding area – benefits that almost never pan out, as people like Beloin are discovering.

Government meddling in what people and businesses can do on their own property is bad enough.  Doing it to benefit another private company (one that already got $400 million from taxpayers) is far worse.

Part of 121 in the series Nanny State of the Week
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  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
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  86. Nanny State of the Week: Businesses can’t sell parking spaces to Braves fans
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Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at [email protected]