01 July 2010

Downtown Parking

The recommendations by Walker Parking Consultants are complete and have been adopted by Council with minor changes. Rates at downtown parking garages will increase (in most cases by a dollar) and meter rates will double (to 7.5 minutes per quarter instead of 15 minutes). The changes will be phased in over 5 years.

The Walker study makes no mention of the streetcar. This is both surprising and unsurprising. It is unsurprising because a company that makes money from parking studies probably does not want to remind anyone of something that might diminish the need for future parking studies.

It is surprising because one would think a truly comprehensive parking study would at least include an analysis of something along the lines of a "park & ride" based on proposed streetcar routes, i.e. where should public parking be located to maximize streetcar utilization and therefore economic development?

The study does mention economic development, and-- no surprise here-- links it to parking. In what may be the best line of any parking study I've read this year, Walker's report states "A rising tide raises all ships," by which they mean that rate increases in public garages will make the parking business more profitable and therefore spur development of private parking facilities. The report also suggests using revenue to build more parking facilities "in support of economic development."

As I opined two years ago in this awesome post, parking facilities, especially surface lots, are just about the worse use of valuable land one can think of. If you're going to talk about downtown economic development, you need to talk about how to get more people to more places more easily and more often, and there are better ways to do that than cars and parking facilities. To me, it makes more sense to use revenue for parking alternatives so that valuable land can be put to more productive use.

One step in the right direction is the expansion of parking spaces for 2-wheeled vehicles (btw, this is a totally separate thing and has nothing to do with the Walker report). In addition to the spaces already existing, there will be additional parking at:

East Central Pkwy (near Coffee Emporium)
Main St between 6th & 7th
Elm St between 3rd & 4th

The spaces will not be metered, but a permit will be required ($50 for one year). The memo only refers to "two-wheeled vehicles" which I presume includes bicycles. I personally would like to see bicycles exempted and permits required only from motorized two-wheeled vehicles. Maybe they'll change this if enough people ask...


5chw4r7z said...

my thinking is they should raise parking to increase the use of public transportation not to sue the money for even more parking.
X amount of even parking fee should go towards metro and the subway.

WestEnder said...