Now cars only, soon no cars
In a more civilized country this would be entirely unremarkable, but in the city of my birth it’s a sign of great progress: for at least the second time in a year, the San Francisco Planning Commission has approved construction
of a city-center apartment building with no car parking and a number of indoor bicycle parking spaces. The site is currently a parking lot, and was once under a freeway. Progress!
In Atlantic Cities, Chris McCahill and Norman Garrick report a negative relationship between population and job growth (living, working), and driving within the city. This they attribute to a simple mechanism: cars (and, in particular, parking spaces) displace people. Note in particular the that the cities with declining median income, and people (jobs & residents), saw big increases in parking space & driving. The sample is small, but the story is plausible. Maybe Detroit really does need more parking!
Here’s my recent working paper Small, local and cheap? Walkable and car-oriented retail in competition. Parts are a bit technical but most of it is policy and, I’d like to think, compulsively readable.
See civil society mobilize to reinvigorate Detroit, in what could be a model for derelict, low-density post-industrial wastes everywhere. Join the campaign on Facebook site.
This is a pity: a very modest proposed tax on parking lots in Massachusetts disappears from the governor’s budget. A similar thing happened in the early days of Britain’s present coalition government: a few Tories like Phillip Blond recognized that the failure to tax parking represents a big subsidy to big supermarkets; they were quickly smacked down. The same thing happened in the early days of New Labour: John Prescott and Gordon Brown wanted such a tax, but Blair vetoed it – Greg Palast puts it down to political skulduggery, which is to say business as usual.
In many places, while supermarkets are free to fill the streets with cars and cover the ground with asphalt, the customers of small shops pay high prices for on-street parking: in England this is about the only discretionary revenue source for local governments, with predictable results – in my neighborhood, Harringay, in London, a non-resident on-street space is priced at £3 (about $4.80) per hour, 9.5 hours per day, 6 days per week. Allowing for holidays, and assuming full occupancy but ignoring additional charges (fines) for over-staying, this works out to £8,607 ($13,771) per year.