Parking: The Perennial Complaint

The highlighted colors represent downtown land devoted to parking and/or auto sales.

Parking, like taxes and Congress, is one of those perennial complaints. It seems like no matter how much parking you have, it’s never enough. Consider the graphic on the left. A 2007 study found 2,162 spots within the dotted area. This translates to over 8 acres of parking in that area alone!

Yet another downtown parking workshop is scheduled for tonight, and a cynic can’t help but wonder if this is another case of paying for studies until you find the one that tells you want to hear. 

Here are some questions I think should be answered at some point during our discussion on downtown parking:

  • The county currently occupies office space in at least four different buildings downtown. How much parking is currently used by public employees downtown?
  • Is the county paying the city at all for use of these spaces eight hours a day?
  • Presumably the overwhelming majority of county workers commute by single-occupant motor vehicles. Is there any plan to introduce incentives to ride-share or use alternate transportation?
  • There is a considerable number of under-utilized parking lots downtown. What sort of thought has been given to addressing this issue?
  • Right now, it is free to park downtown. However, parking is not free to provide. It costs on average $4,000 per spot for surface parking,  $24,000 per stall for an above-ground structure, and $34,000 per stall in an underground structure. This means we are all paying for parking, whether or not we use it. Why should non-drivers subsidize drivers, and why should parking be exempt from free market efficiencies?
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