Earlier this week an article in the Willamette Week shed some light on a $200K study the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) commissioned to explore adding up to 392 parking stalls at a cost of nearly $18M to a public parking garage on the waterfront in Old Town.
I was quoted in the article, making the case that the city has no business investing in parking amid the growing climate crisis. But that’s not the only problem with the project.
Fiscally, it should be a non-starter. Spending up to $60,000 of public money per stall to replace private parking stalls lost to redevelopment is not only risky because of the possibility of disruptive transportation changes, but it would be money spent directly undermining the city’s own climate action and transportation goals.
PBOT is simultaneously working to implement a $60M plan called Central City In Motion which includes protected bike lanes and priority transit lanes to serve the same area of town as the parking garage. Most of those projects aren’t funded, yet. A quarter of the project could be built for this same cost, and those priority bus lanes would benefit more than 392 commuters.
The article caught the attention of John Van Horn (JVH), publisher of Parking Today magazine and kicked up a little dust. There have been several op-Eds published as a result. I’ve met John and Parking Today is willing to platform all sides of the transportation discussion and I’ve posted a reply you can read here.
But John is a anthropogenic climate change skeptic, he doesn’t believe that all the sprawl we’ve built and the driving it necessitates are sufficiently proven to be a threat we can address. I think he bases this skepticism on the Climatic Research Unit email controversy known as Climategate. Climate change denial makes it hard to establish a foundation for debate on parking policy. Fortunately, there are plenty of other reasons to be anti-car culture. Sprawl, air pollution, wasted time and money, and traffic violence to name a few.