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Paris Vote Targets SUV Drivers With Parking Fees Set to Triple

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(Bloomberg) — Heading into Paris in the comfort of a big car may become an expensive exercise, with drivers facing parking fees in excess of €100 ($108) for just a few hours of shopping or errands.

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Parisians on Sunday will decide whether to raise parking rates for SUVs, which could see fees triple to as much as €18 an hour in some central Paris arrondissements.

The vote, in line with many policies to clean up poor air quality in Paris and reclaim streets for pedestrians and cyclists, follows a similar move last year on banning shared electric scooters. The city’s authorities went through with the removal, even as few people turned out to vote.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made the French capital a leader among urban climate-protection and anti-pollution health measures. Aside from significantly curtailing space taken up by cars — often frustrating drivers — she’s set out to make Paris a “15-minute city” where people can reach most of daily necessities by foot or bicycle in that time.

The parking measure, if adopted, will apply to vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tons, or 2 tons, if they’re electric. While often derided for their size and higher levels of pollution, SUVs haven’t lost any of their appeal, including in France.

SUV sales have risen sevenfold in the past decade in the country, representing about 40% of new car sales, according to a report by WWF France. In Paris, narrow and traffic-clogged streets mean the vehicles are often a space-hogging nuisance. Still, the referendum has come under fire for unfairly targeting families from the outskirts of the city that can’t rely on public transport.

Authorities in other cities, such as France’s Lyon and Tübingen in Germany, have already started to incorporate vehicle weight into car parking tariffs.

“We are hoping for a Yes vote in the referendum so that Paris can show leadership on regulating large vehicles in urban areas,” Jens Müller, deputy director of Clean Cities Campaign at Transport & Environment, an environmental lobby group, said in emailed comments.

–With assistance from Craig Trudell.

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