Friday, August 9, 2019

City Council, August 12th - ADA Compliance and Parking Removal

Council meets on Monday, and they will consider a request by Cherriots to bring bus stop areas into better conformance with ADA requirements. Because this involves removing some on-street parking stalls, and was subject to a close 4-3 vote at CATC, it has been deemed "controversial" and requires Council action.

An example of extending the "no parking" area.
Existing "no parking" in yellow, proposed in red.
On Winter Street just north of D Street
Holy moly. The proprietary claims on and privatization of public space in the road right-of-way was on full display in comments to CATC earlier. Eight nearby residents went to CATC to register opposition. No residents were in favor. Here's one:
"...[a resident feels] the property value has gone down because there is no longer on-street parking on either of the streets next to the residence...this property will have a difficult resale process and diminished value...this constitutes eminent domain without compensation...people utilizing the bus leave garbage and cigarette butts on the property diminishing its value."
Never mind the way that robust transit serves public need and enhances urban mobility. Also never mind the needs of differently-abled people who use the bus and would find advantage in greater clearance with the parking removal.

If Cherriots and the City are out of compliance, and would court a lawsuit, why is this even at CATC? As a purely technical matter, this should not be subject to the NIMBY process. Why do we continue to indulge the politics of our mania for free parking in the public right-of-way?

(On the other hand, if this is not a purely technical matter for compliance, Cherriots and the City should be clearer about where they are exercising discretion, where they are out of compliance, and should not frame it up as wholly about "compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.")

from Walkable City Rules
Apart from the question of our proprietary claims for annexing curbside space, there are questions about buses on bike boulevards, where we expect kids, and the role of parking in narrowing and calming a wide street. In Walkable City Rules Jeff Speck argues for the benefits of curbside parking, and in the Staff Report, there is too much attention paid to the objections of the immediately adjacent residents, and not enough attention to the way buses and parking removal is, or is not, consistent with our vision for Winter Street more generally.

In the end, by framing it up as a matter subject to the politics of parking and to neighborhood preferences, rather than a technical matter for better mobility and street function, the City and Cherriots may have missed an opportunity to start a different conversation about the way we treat the public space known as a street, about the harms of driving, and about the ways our parking arrangements induce carbon emissions. We have to start threading our climate emergency into these other topics.

Final pie chart from Our Salem: It's all about the cars
(There are several information reports of interest as well as the large matter of new revenue sources also on Council agenda. We'll briefly touch on these in a separate note over the weekend.)

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