Former Vancouver, BC chief planner, Brent Todarian suggested on twitter today that, instead of fake stories, we share #ThingsWeWishWereAprilFoolsJokes, so here are five parking stories that we wish were jokes.
Historic Parking Lot
In 2015, some residents in Washington, D.C.’s Spring Valley neighborhood objected to a retail development on the grounds that the parking lot it was replacing was an historic landmark. The parking lot was adjacent to an historic shopping center and neighbors argued that the “adequacy of parking is also a factor in determining the property to be historic.”
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s LEED Platinum Parking Garage
I covered this last week when I was on spring break in Colorado, but it’s definitely a parking story I wish was a joke. The scientists and researchers who are working hard to save us from dependency on fossil fuels enjoy free ample parking at a brand-new $31.5M, 1,800 stall, LEED-Platinum certified parking garage. Electric shuttle buses would have been my guess for how they’d spend the money.
Light Rail, Heavy Parking
Here in Oregon, TriMet, Portland Metro’s regional transit agency, is planning a new light rail line along our Southwest Corridor. The line, which would go online sometime in the mid-late 2020s is planned to be served by at least five new “free” parking structures containing over 3,000 stalls. Voters recently approved a housing bond containing $65M for low-income housing near transit. The potential cost of the park-and-rides is conservatively $160M and will likely be closer to $300M.
Parking Garage Nearly Bankrupts Spokane
In the mid-1990s, the civic leaders in Spokane, WA backed construction of a parking garage with $31.5M in bonds in order to facilitate development of a $110M shopping center. Consultants promised the parking garage would make money and when it didn’t City Council defaulted on the loan, causing the city’s bond rating to plummet. Parking meter money in Spokane will be paying off the loan until 2027.
Privatizing Public Parking In Chicago
In 2008, Chicago’s Mayor Daley engineered a deal to lease the city’s on-street parking franchise to a Wall Street backed consortium for $1.16 billion in cash. While the deal has allowed for some removal of political machinations from parking pricing, overall it’s been a disaster. The lease will last until 2083 and if the city wants to remove on-street parking before then, be it temporarily for construction or to facilitate bus-only lanes or bike lanes, it has to pay Chicago Parking Meters, LLC for lost revenue.
So there you have it, five lessons for us all in what NOT to do (hint: don’t build new parking garages).