Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's Always Parking in Philadelphia

Atrios discusses parking and the awful design it creates, and says

"One of the rather depressing development trends here in Philly, where there has been a lot of rehabs and teardowns/new construction, is the proliferation of street level garages on major streets ... They're a pedestrian hazard. String a few of them together and they make an eyesore."
Which is true, but coincidently, the Inquirer touches on the larger issues behind bad development:
Too often what's built in Philadelphia is the product of deal-making, rather than the result of careful planning that adheres to design and zoning rules.

Past mayors and City Councils have preferred holding the power over development decisions, rather than risk having the city Planning Commission get in the way with regulation requirements.

As a result, the Planning Commission is a paper tiger, conveniently ignored, treated like a child when grown folks are talking business. Until this changes, who you know will continue to be the basis for many zoning and development decisions.
Morty would add community groups to the mix of Mayors and City Council members. Observe citizen-based, parking-induced, insanity. For example, this anecdote taken from Philly Blog:
When I lived in Manayunk I had the same problem. I'll even tell you the street I lived on. It was Vassar Street, right off of Ridge Avenue. You cannot imagine the mentality of the people on that street. Summer, winter, fall and spring, they had their chairs/cones out in front of their houses. Plus, they would come running to the window every time a car would come down the street, watching to see where they would park. Many nights there were people hanging out of 2nd floor windows screaming obscenities at their neighbors and other unsuspecting visitors.

I once had the audacity to park in front of someone else's house who DIDN'T HAVE CONES or CHAIRS out, and the next day someone had kicked in the driver's side door of my car to the extent that I could not open my door. I had no recourse because I didn't see who did it. I'm sure the a*s*s*h*o*l*e* who perpetrated the crime was probably peeking out of his or her window waiting for me to discover it the next morning. They must have enjoyed the show immensely.

By the time this happened, I had been living on that God-forsaken street for several years, and I decided to move the hell out of that hell hole. Needless to say, I would NEVER live anywhere that didn't come with it's own private parking space.

I shared my story just to give fair warning that there are plenty of morons and idiots out there who are willing to break the law to keep their precious parking place. If you don't want your car vandalized, you better be careful who's spot you take.
Perhaps planning driven legislation like this could be helpful:
Parking is no exception to the rule that you can have too much of a good thing. The past few years have seen cities such as Eugene, Oregon, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Gainesville, Florida, adopt limits on parking.

San Francisco is poised to follow suit, while Seattle is considering extending its downtown parking restrictions to the areas around new light rail stations. In Portland, Oregon, maximum parking standards have been adopted on a regionwide basis by 30 cities and counties, as mandated by Metro, the region's metropolitan government.

Such moves may signal a complete reversal of direction in planners' attitudes. For the last half century at least, planners have been specifying minimum parking requirements for a myriad of different land uses, from convents to massage parlors, in a bid to ensure that developers will provide sufficient off-street parking.
Now, if you are interested in other auto related issues, see Moishe's posts here and here.

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