Saturday, January 12, 2013

Not parking: "Creating places where people enjoy spending time."

Another longer read, but well worth it.

Included are "10 Questions to Help Us Get the Most Out of Parking," and when you answer them with downtown New Albany in mind, try not to lapse into depression.

When it comes to matters like this, do you think it is really possible for us to work smarter? I have to admit, there are times when I seriously doubt it, especially as we're being told that the major priorities are ballfields and an aquatic center.

Finding a Place for Parking, by Ethan Kent (Project for Public Spaces)

Despite what you may have heard, nobody goes to a place solely because it has parking. In fact, the current obsession with parking is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving livable cities and towns, because it usually runs counter to what should be our paramount concern: creating places where people enjoy spending time. As long as the myth persists that economic prosperity depends on parking, local governments will continue to waste public money and distort the public planning process.

The realization that creating a place where people want to come and spend time is more important than parking unfortunately eludes many municipalities. Worrying about and wasting public money on parking is taking over the public planning process and subsequently parking is taking over our communities. So how can we put parking in its place and draw people back to public spaces?

One big step forward is to assess the supply of parking in relation to what is actually needed. PPS often works with towns that have excess parking capacity, where the growing number of surface lots and parking structures has choked out the very reason people drove there in the first place. In Salt Lake City, for instance, PPS’s land-use map highlighted the excess parking spaces within 1/4 mile of downtown, showing that the real shortage was of places for people to go, not spaces to park.

This state of affairs arises when businesses compete with each other to maximize their own parking spaces–to the detriment of the surrounding community and, inevitably, themselves. The hang-up on parking is an indicator that a community has no broader vision for itself. Get businesses and other parties to cooperate creatively with each other, and you can create the kind of parking infrastructure that supports public spaces. Here are some questions to get businesses and public officials talking about creative new ways to accommodate parking needs with the public’s desire for lively public places ...

1 comment:

Jeff Gillenwater said...

I was discussing New Albany versus Louisville last night with a friend across the river, namely NA's inherently more nimble nature as a smaller municipality. It's much easier for NA to distinguish itself from the remaining metro pack as a place "where people enjoy spending time", but that's only true if and when it decides doing so is a positive.

We get quite enough of the regional, chamber(s) of commerce-driven development patterns in Southern Indiana. Our future is in pursuing the opposite.