Parking, parking, parking revisited
-- "Parking, parking, parking: Eastern Market DC," 2014
-- "Parking, parking, parking #2: Notes from elsewhere," 2014
-- "Parking districts vs. transportation/urban management districts: Part one, Bethesda," 2015
-- "Parking districts vs. transportation/urban management districts: Part two, Takoma DC/Takoma Park Maryland," 2015
1. Reston, Fairfax County, Virginia. I've written ("Reston Town Center parking issue as a "planning failure" by the private sector") about the issues with instituting parking charges at the Reston Town Center in Suburban Fairfax County.
Twitter photo by Kevin Precht.
According to the article ("End of free parking is the last straw for some Reston residents") businesses are still experiencing a drop in patronage, and users find the e-parking application clunky, and the property owner, Boston Properties, hasn't simplified the parking validation system.
Photo by Don Renner. Also see "Organizers say Town Center parking protest was a 'huge success,'" Reston Now.
A few weeks back Dan Malouff of BeyondDC produced a photo illustration to demonstrate how much parking there is available at Reston Town Center.
The Post missed out on my point that this is a situation where even though the property is privately owned, the developer should have engaged in a "public planning process" to introduce the change.
2. Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland. In January I blogged about issues around plans for intensification in Bethesda, an unincorporated conurbation in Montgomery County, Maryland ("Sub/urban land use and political development: Bethesda and Montgomery County, Maryland").
Last month, the Post did a follow up piece, "Suburbs turning to transit rethink their beloved parking." It discusses the value of focusing resources on sustainable mobility and less on parking, but the tension in real estate development and financing which still calls for including a lot of parking in developments that are proximate to parking. From the article:
A 28-story building recently approved for downtown Bethesda will sit atop both a Metro Red Line station and a stop on the future light-rail Purple Line. A cycling and jogging trail will run beneath it, and dozens of shops and restaurants will be within walking distance.The argument is not dissimilar to that in Reston, as suburban areas intensify, they need to adopt transportation demand management strategies more typical of cities (note however, that Montgomery County has already been doing this for a long long time; it has transportation management districts in its major activity centers and its suburban bus system, RideOn, is considered a national best practice).
The high-rise, which will have office space as well as apartments, is just the kind of high-density, transit-oriented development Montgomery County and other U.S. suburbs are planning on to attract younger residents as well as downsizing baby boomers looking for a more walkable, urban lifestyle.
But one detail of the building plan has drawn skepticism: a parking garage, with room for 700 cars.
It’s a discussion taking place in suburbs and sprawling cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, as they straddle a vast divide between their autocentric pasts and futures that hinge on more people getting around by foot, train and bus. Experts say the amount of parking in areas designed to be more transit-oriented will help determine how successful they are in curbing traffic congestion, making walking and biking attractive options and providing more affordable housing.
The problem with such policies is that they don't support "sorting." What you want to do with properties like the one described in the Post article is attract residents who don't want to drive, rather than people who think automobility is central to their lifestyle. By attracting more people committed to sustainable mobility, the sustainable mobility platform is strengthened.
3. Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Streetsblog calls our attention to a new proposal in Downtown Columbus, Ohio, where property owners have suggested giving workers free transit passes, rather than build under-profitable parking structures, to encourage using transit to get to and from work, rather than the automobile. This was reported on ("Building owners might subsidize free bus passes for 40,000 Downtown workers") by the Columbus Dispatch. From the article:
More than 40,000 Downtown workers could receive free bus service under a plan to free up thousands of parking spaces and increase the renting of office space.Columbus commercial property owners are motivated because the city has strict regulations tying development approvals to available road capacity and intersection levels of service.
Half of the $5 million cost to provide the passes for more than 2½ years would come from 550 owners of properties in the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, who would pay 3 cents per square foot of space per year, said Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of the district. Capital Crossroads would seek grants from foundations and others to pay the rest of the cost.
Capital Crossroads would team with COTA to provide the bus passes for district workers from June 1, 2018, to the end of 2020.
An $80,000 test program that ran from June 2015 through January 2017 involved 844 employees at four companies in the district. In that test program, the proportion of those commuting by bus almost doubled, from 6.4 percent to 12.2 percent. ...
If results from the bus-pass test hold up and the program opens to all 41,165 district workers, Capital Crossroads estimates that it would free up 2,400 parking spaces — about four parking garages — and allow for 2,900 more people to work in the district. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people would trade their cars for COTA on their commute, the district estimates.
New urbanists and smart growthers say that these are unreasonable measures that harm doing better development, but the reality is that in an automobile-centric mobility paradigm where virtually everybody drives, concerns about traffic are reasonable.
This proposal offering free bus passes is an interesting and innovative initiative that would not only allow developers to build more, it would seed a greater use of transit, and help set the stage for a shift in the area's mobility paradigm towards mass transit instead of personal transit via a car.
Columbus, the largest metro in Ohio, home to Ohio State University and the State Government, has the building blocks in place to foster sustainable mobility.
It is served by Car2Go and has a nascent bike sharing system. But both of these programs are having a hard time ("Car2Go shrinks its service area," CD) given how dominant the region's mobility paradigm is shaped by the car. [A couple weeks back we used a Car2Go that clearly had been shipped to DC from Columbus, because they neglected to change the radio stations programmed into the console.)
Having more riders choosing transit--even if free--adds another building block to the SMP (sustainable mobility platform). From the article:
Increasing parking isn't feasible, Ricksecker said, because a parking garage costs tens of millions of dollars. Fewer are being built because of programs such as this one that aim to increase alternatives to one person driving to work and parking all day.Granted the profit making imperative is strong, but it's interesting to see how developers get on the transportation demand management bandwagon, because they can see the value in new development, but also in more efficient utilization of "space," in this case the road network.
"To save $110, $115 per month, people figure out where their bus stop is," Ricksecker said.
If matching money is found for the program, it will be the first in the country to be funded by property owners, Ricksecker said.
For the program to start June 1, 2018, as planned, Capital Crossroads must decide by August and secure funding for the program by then.
"If the numbers do grow, we'll change a culture," COTA's Stutz said.
In a mobility system that has been shaped around car ownership, it's hard for people to get their heads around the fact that transit can be an effective means to get around, and in compact development scenarios it works better than automobile-centricity.
But because so few people have practical experience with such a scenario--outside of major cities pretty much transit is seen as a social service provided for people who can't afford to own a car--it's difficult for them to appreciate this.
It's difficult for them to vote in favor of transit funding programs when they don't have practical experience with transit.
And justifiably, it's difficult for them to understand about reducing provision of parking, because in their experience, automobility is the only way to get around, and a car has to be parked when it isn't in use.