Mor on parking

I got some interesting responses on twitter about my parking madness post. Yes, if was writing a critical analysis, I should have covered all those points, but then the blog entry wouldn’t have been as catchy and would have taken too long to read. Here are some more serious observations.

@mdahmus aka M1EK is someone whose opinion I can almost always appreciate, and mostly always agree with. Mikes point here is that the garages are not such a bad thing. It assumes that people own cars, put them in the garages and use them less as they live downtown and have no need for them. Right Mike?

That is a reasonable position. However, it doesn’t make the building of these garages on valuable land within 1/2 mile of city hall. If we restrict parking, forcing up prices, there will be either an uproar or push for alternate transportation solutions, or the prices will rise to what the market will bear.

This was my experience living on the central east side in Manhattan. I owned a car, but simply couldn’t afford to overnight it in Manhattan. Had I worked in Manhattan I wouldn’t have needed a car for the most part, but I worked some 28-miles outside the city. Driving to work was quicker than taking the train, sometimes the traffic delays getting home would push the time beyond taking the train, but for the most part it was quicker. The problem was the overnight cost, and on those days where I wasn’t at work, it was next to daylight robbery.

Solution? Rather than pay $40 to park in Manhattan, I paid $4 to park at Goldens Bridge Metro station, I’d take the train up and drive the rest of the way. At weekends if I needed the car, I’d either get up early, or drive the car home Friday evening. You rarely ever see them building dedicated parking garages in NY City or other major metropolitan cities anymore. The likelihood of these ever being torn down is remote and they with the others will remain as temples to the folly of the lack of usable transportation policy outside of the car.

Dan’s tweet was rather trying to understand WHY the garages were being built, and there are three possibilities:

  1. The city requires that number of parking spaces for the development that it goes with. If this is the case, then it’s the city that is at fault, Certainly in downtown and the central corridor between Lamar, I35, Barton Springs Rd, MLK this needs to be changed, the developments are either too big requiring too much parking, or the parking garages are wasting valuable land, especially since they are not integrated into the building.
  2. The developer feels the property/development won’t be viable without all those spaces. There are two answers to this, one the city needs to revise it’s transportation policy to make these potential buildings viable without huge parking garages; or the developer should scale back the building. If that means he development isn’t viable, so be it. We don’t need to waste the opportunity to redevelop these lots with oversize buildings, subsidized by inflicting additional car journeys, noise and air pollution, as well as the inevitable light pollution as in the Hyatt garage.
  3. The garages are not really required either to support the development, or are required by the city. In this case the developer has calculated that these are money makers, it’s a land grab, literally.

Still, as far as I can see, despite some sage commentary on twitter from people much more knowledgeable than I, but it remains these garages/carbuncles simply should have never been built. The city needs to act now to stop further parking madness.

For the record, I live in a single family home, less than a mile from here, I have a detached garage where I keep a car. I ride my bike around town as much as I can, even for meals and nights out. I also use car2go when I can, and Dadnab was one of my original Austin friends.

2 thoughts on “Mor on parking

  1. My point is more of a marginal one (remember, that’s where all interesting economics happens!)

    At the margins, a car in a parking garage is a lot less likely to be used for any given trip than a car in a surface parking lot or parked out front on the street. Even if the parking garage is free, or bundled, or prepaid by the month; it’s still more of a pain to drive down N ramps at a slow speed and get out to the street than it is in the typical suburban apartment complex or single-family house (even an urban house like mine or yours).

    Building the parking garages now is a necessary evil because it allows residents to ‘warehouse’ their cars. If they end up using transit more than they thought, they may sell (you saw a couple of people say that on twitter last night). Most won’t; but they’ll use their cars less often than if they lived a mile further out and had more easily accessible surface parking, at least.

    Garage standards could be imposed in certain areas which promote their eventual redevelopment into something more useful – that might be a good middle ground. But count me against those who would want to establish parking maximums, for instance; because all that does in a city with crappy transit (which is where we are, guys, don’t fool yourselves) is force business and homes to give up on downtown.

    1. Agreed. Although I think we differ on what we see as the problem. I hadn’t thought through you position on use in town. I agree, the time it take to drive down from the 5th floor would be prohibitive if you were going from these garages to 34th for medical treatment, unless the in-town traffic was so bad as to force an alternative, which for the most part would be stuck in the same traffic. My concern is that by continuing to add to the stock of downtown parking garages, we are continuing to encourage distance commuting by car while at the same time removing the land from the pool available for buildings.

      We agree that the alternate transportation is pretty abysmal, and I took your lead on the rail and rapid bus. I can find many parallels, as well as many corollaries. If we keep enabling the car, it will do nothing but encourage demands for improved roads.

Leave a Reply