Monday, July 30, 2012

Grant Neighborhood to Discuss Parking in August

Parking. It's a big issue for neighborhoods and August brings lots of parking talk to the Grant Neighborhood.

On Thursday, August 2nd at 6:15 p.m. in the Outdoor Amphitheater at Broadway Commons, the Grant Neighborhood Association meets and will be talking about the proposed parking lot at Maynard's and the North Broadway Parking Study.

The high level problem is that we are mucking around asking about how to manage car storage instead of asking how to increase personal mobility and customers while also reducing the number of car trips and concomitant car storage.

As for the Maynard's lot, according to City Staff, "code requires a 5 year signed lease" on stalls in a nearby parking lot if a development here doesn't have its own parking lot. There is currently a lease, but it will expire in 2014, and both the property owner and business owner may not wish to renew for another 5 years at an unknown rate. So for predictability, an owner will naturally be inclined to build their own surface parking.

Big sigh.  

The problem here is with code and the assumptions and policy behind code, not with the particulars of this situation.  But if we want walkable neighborhoods, how is demanding large surface parking lots going to accomplish anything other that more auto-oriented development?

The draft North Broadway Parking Study is beginning to circulate, and on the surface it doesn't appear to go far enough.

There will be an open house on August 16th at 6:00 PM in the Grant/Highland Room at Broadway Commons, and there will be more to say about the plan in the run up to that meeting.

Already, though, you can see that it retains a strong emphasis on car storage and surface lots.

Here's a map of potential locations for surface parking lots, clustered along Broadway/High.

It would be terrible to devote so much prime land to the idle, non-productive function of car storage!

As the "no parking" sign suggests, however, the elephant in the room is not the commercial district's parking needs collectively, but is parking for the church. This is almost certainly the primary and most visible form of parking "encroachment" into the residential district. (Though we have heard of State workers who park in the Grant neighborhood and walk the quarter- or half-mile to Capitol Mall offices.)

As the August 16th open house approaches there will be more to say on the draft study.  As for the Maynard's parking lot and hearing on the 7th, given the current environment, the proposal to reduce the required number of lots from 12 to 8 represents a step in the right direction, and there's probably nothing more in a constructive vein to say.  Putting a parking lot there is a bad idea, especially as on-street spaces on Broadway right there are vacant most of the time, but that's what code is written to encourage.

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