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The Problem with Downtown Parking

By Eric Richardson
Published: Saturday, April 30, 2005, at 07:00PM

I was at the CRA the other day and was given a copy of the Draft Problem Statement document from the Downtown Parking Study. This afternoon I gave it a read-through. I think it makes some very good points about the complexities of the current parking situation Downtown. This document doesn't appear to yet be online, but hopefully it will appear there soon.

My summary of the summary is: Building parking spaces is far too expensive to be a good business model, given the pricing structures seen today. The old Peripheral Parking model never worked, and efforts then completely failed to understand the direction Downtown would take. Effective long-term planning needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Some of the most interesting parts of the statement fall into the context of land use. For instance:

The need for additional parking tends to be most acute in areas where land cost and site availability makes it the most expensive to provide, hence, often not the most attractive business opportunity for private sector parking providers. Available parking capacities and site areas are typically not where demand is inclined to take advantage of it.

And:

The converging effects of continued adaptive re-use development with emerging new commercial and residential construction would ideally spur the development of a broader range of uses and services to enhance the amenity of living and working Downtown. However, many retail and service uses have challenging parking needs and, coming later in the development process, could find that their accomodation is severely limited.

This document doesn't get into solutions, but it does present the problems in a manner that hopefully will make them easier to attack in a consolidated fashion. The CRA's starting to get some people together to look at this document and what direction will come from it.

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