Thursday, July 29, 2010

PARKING REFORM: Replacing Complexity w/ Simplicity

Find preceding sections here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

and Part 4:

The need for Complexity through Simplification

A blanket code cannot effectively adapt to site conditions effectively. In response to this shortcoming, we have created over one-thousand Planned Development Ordinances, meaning each zoning case becomes a lengthy and expensive negotiation for both the private entity and the City. The zoning code for our City must be FOR shared principles towards an improved City and against things mandatory parking minimums that interrupt the natural fabric of a City with wasteful surface parking space. The eventual patterns would be the basic principles and goals through which all more detailed decisions would be filtered. There are no basic principles that limit the destructive effect of parking on urban fabric and economies or guide our city towards increased lovability and vitality.

None of us lives in the future; therefore, we cannot dictate the rules of the City to citizens of Dallas 2050 as many of our antiquated zoning rules have done for us. Our goal should be a new code that shapes the City in a way that in one hundred years, City form will be so lovable and useful to the citizens they will protect what we, the Dallas citizens of today, have created. Furthermore, the code should be flexible and adaptable enough to still apply or be malleable enough to respond to the needs of the time adequately.

It is no longer the 1980s. City building strictly for cars is no longer considered a futuristic utopia. It is costly individually and collectively. Our parking standards in effect require car ownership and the debt that goes with it. Dallas continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country and in order to accommodate the influx of people, the City must evolve in a sustainable fashion, and that means making infill development attractive to and profitable for investment.

Accommodate sustainable and creative development forms.

Dallas and its densifying areas cannot compete with suburbia and should not have similar codes. Nor can it compete with the great cities of the world, as Dallas often aspires, with 20th century models, but rather by best representing the 21st century. This does not call for otherworldly futurism, but for appropriate guidance of the market and to allow the new city to represent the outgrowth of the desires and personalities therein. Great cities are defined by their authenticity and this must be the underlying logic for cultivating it.

In other words, we must begin to frame policy to allow for natural demand-oriented corrections to the market, which would ensure maximum flexibility and eschew the tendency for cementing policy that is resistant to the natural change that all cities undergo perpetually.

Now is time to be proactive rather than reactive, to guide what we want our city to be, how we want it to look, how we want it to function, and how we interact within it. The parking code is one of those outdated, formative coding mechanisms that has a profound effect on eventual urban form.