Parking as an economic development strategy (88)

(88th in a series of posts on parking)

Getting back to the Polk Street Garage matter–

CM Callahan has circulated this white paper as part of the follow-up discussion to the BPA presentation July 2: Parking-as-an-Economic-Development-White-Paper-12-12.

There were several parts of the white paper that Gadfly found quite interesting:

New technologies are emerging that will greatly change the parking management landscape in ways that would have been hard to image even a few years ago. The impact of “smart meters”, wireless sensors, web-based parking availability data, on-line parking reservation systems and even satellite-based mechanisms that employ GPS and GIS “geo-fencing” technologies will combine to create “smart parking systems” that will help reduce green house gas emission, improve parking availability and make paying for parking easier and more customer friendly. [There was a feeling during public comment on the BPA/Desman parking study last year that the BPA was slow to move “smartly,” but we learned July 2 that variable rate parking is now being studied.]

Parking facility design and management have dramatically improved in recent years. We no longer “deaden an entire block or half block in a downtown for a “vehicle warehouse”. We now see parking facilities more as the “interface between the vehicular and pedestrian experience”. Parking facilities are being designed more as “people places” than simply as dull, grey, utilitarian storage facilities. [Amen! I am reading about such new thinking in the Speck, Walkability book — tip o’ the hat again to Tony Hanna. If we are to have new parking garages, deargod, let them be built with the most modern ideas.]

Architecturally, parking is being developed to better blend into and even contribute positively to the “urban form”. [For instance, some exciting examples of design, like “The Wynkoop garage in the LoDo District of downtown Denver is an example of a ‘stack’ garage design with 2 levels of below grade parking, a destination restaurant at grade, 4 levels of above grade parking below 4 floors of residential development.” Again, the Speck book has been illuminating here.]


These advances in planning and management are being combined with another, and perhaps more important trend – a philosophy that aims at making parking more visitor friendly (and thereby positively impacting the “overall downtown experience”). [Speck again — huzza!]

Consider Parking as One Element of a Larger Transportation System (Not a Separate Category Divorced From the Larger Transportation Equation). Eliminate the all-too-common issue of putting parking into its own “silo”. Our focus should be on developing an “integrated access management strategy for downtown” that supports other community goals such as “walkability”, congestion management, promotion of alternative transportation modes, environmental responsibility, and the creation of “places for people”. [Speck, again. PVW has asked for a rethinking of the need for the garage. That rethinking should include the “other community goals.”]

Though Gadfly found sections of the white paper like these interesting, overall it seemed to be aimed at strategies for public/private relationships. And that didn’t quite seem to me to be the same thing as City/Parking Authority. I could certainly be wrong.

And the tension between say CPs Van Wirt and Callahan — to use them as convenient poles in the discussion generated by the July 2 presentation — seems to be on a different plane than that on which the white paper focuses.

Gadfly is going to withdraw to a monastery for a while to try to crystallize the opposing views in his mind.

Gadfly is reading — slowly — Jeff Speck, Walkable City.

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