The most interesting presentation about parking in the history of the world (pdf).
(Okay, this is about parking so it’s dry as your grandmothers turkey. But, in the world of parking, this is a home run presentation. I’ve heard from DANA board members that Patrick Siegman, the guy who wrote the presentation, is an amazing speaker on the topic of parking and new urbanism.)
I’ll help out… below are three major reforms that could be applied to Downtown Austin parking.
1. Charge fair-market prices for curb parking
2. Spend the resulting revenue to pay for neighborhood public improvements
3. Remove the requirements for off-street parking
Over the past 48 hours there’s been lots of discussion over at Austin Contrarian about parking issues. This is encouraging because sometimes I wonder if our citizens recognize the immense impact that parking guidelines have on the look and feel of our city. Downtown Austin apartments, condos, and retail are putting more stress on the availability of [convenient] parking. Parking has a causal relationship with keeping cars on the road, walkability, and overall neighborhood-ness.
In October I was fortunate to be included in a delegation of Austinites sent to Vancouver in order to learn about how they’ve managed rapid growth and become one of the most admired cities in the world. One of their council members, Gordon Price, delivered one of the most impassioned orations about smart urban planning. He made one particular comment that struck me…
“Show me your parking ordinance, and I’ll show you what your city looks like!”
Personally, this was a revelation. Will Austin City Council adopt new parking rules that will encourage use of mass transit and walkability? I hope so. The alternative is more cars, more roads, and more scorched earth strip malls.
I have no problem with “fair-market” prices for parking meters. During peak demand on Friday and Saturday nights there should be a way to manage demand. Likewise, when the city is empty on weekday nights the meters should be free to encourage people to come downtown.
The problem with allowing the city to set “fair market” prices is that they will get greedy and expand hours on the meters regardless of demand. Instead of encouraging people to come downtown this deterrent will keep people in the suburbs and downtown businesses will suffer.