Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PARKING REFORM: Executive Summary

(This is a snippet of the overall paper that checks in somewhere around 6,000 words and 11 pages. Putting it out there for crowd-sourced review and another chance to look at it in something other than Word, to give myself fresh eyes, so to speak.)

Part 1
Executive summary

A common solution to parking problems affecting American cities is often to convert to a market-based pricing approach. While this is appropriate in some locations, a strictly market-based approach works when curb parking is underpriced and overcrowded, however when there is plentiful off-street parking, the problem is the very code demanding excessive spaces.

As Professor Donald Shoup of UCLA writes in his paper on cruising, "Cities can therefore eliminate cruising either by charging market prices for curb parking or by requiring enough off-street spaces to reduce the price of off-street parking to zero. The price of curb parking is one of the few policy variables that cities control directly, but almost all American cities have chosen the wrong policy: requiring plentiful off-street parking rather than charge fair market prices for scarce curb parking."

However, rather than only one problem existing in Dallas, it is not that simple. Simply switching all parking to market is not enough. Expecting different results by following past policies or principles is the definition of folly. This paper intends to point out the multitude of negative outcomes for the city produced by the current parking ordinances as well as a suggested road map for guiding revision.

There are two general parking scenarios emerging in Dallas. Using Jan Gehl’s terminology these are the Invaded City or the Abandoned City. An Invaded area is one where demand to be there remains high enough where visitors often search endlessly for free parking and crowd residential neighborhood streets. In Dallas, some of these areas include West Village, Lower Greenville, and Bishop Arts.

Abandoned places are areas where walking and public life has become almost completely nonexistent due to excessive parking. Downtown Dallas was first invaded by automobiles in the 1950s, only to eventually be abandoned due to reactionary measures. Today, much of downtown remains abandoned although Main Street area seems to be on its way back towards invaded. Neither of which is ideal or acceptable.

If thought about thoroughly and amended strategically and creatively, a new parking code will solve both problems. Ultimately, this report suggests the differentiation of regional centers and local centers from the rest of the development code and make special provisions to these overlays for parking and transportation directives associated with the goals and principles of the area as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.