Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Park service land and planning woes: local vs. federal

In DC, the National Park Service controls a lot of land and landmarks. Because the federal government isn't subject to local control, land use, culture, and transportation planning goals of the Park Service, may (and at times fully justifiably) be out of sorts compared to local objectives.

One of the problems with regard to DC transportation planning concerns transit service, and biking policy and services.

One of the problems faced by the Park Service is major budget problems, because they don't receive enough money to provide the necessary services. This is why concession income ends up being so important to the Park Service, because most of the concession money raised in park installations augments the budget of the particular park.
Tourmobile at Union Station
So in DC this means that the Tourmobile bus service, not to mention food concessionaires with existing contracts, have priority over other objectives, be they adding bike sharing service to NPS parks in the city, or having "pedicabs" get fares on Park Service lands.

E.g., last weekend a pedicab driver (arguably he was resisting arrest) was tased by Park Police. See "Pedicab driver tased by Park Police on National Mall" from WJLA TV. (Also see this earlier WAMU radio story, Pedicab operators say they're being harassed by police.")

Increased enforcement against pedicabs is inconsistent unless motor vehicle taxicabs are also banned from picking up fares on Constitution Avenue and other NPS-controlled locations. One could argue that this is a Constitutional Law violation (14th amendment, equal protection under the law).

NPS is supposed to be embarking on a process to create a multi-modal long range transportation plan for all of the parks in the National Capital Region. Hopefully these types of issues will be addressed in that process (although I won't hold my breath).

I argue that DC's transportation and parks master plans should address federal installations whether or not we have the legal authority to direct their policies. If local concerns and preferences are not articulated in a substantive fashion, you can be assured that the issues will never be addressed.

Note that the NCPC-NPS-Office of Planning "Capital Space" joint planning effort isn't very pathbreaking with one or two exceptions.

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