[UPDATE: The Mayor has released a statement. There is literally nothing I would change about what he says.]
Sara Nikolic at hugeasscity has a thoughtful piece about park-and-rides that disagrees with my, uh, extremely calm and measured support* of private lots for the time being. Erica Barnett piled on a bit. Goldy, the 37th District Democrats, Frank, and Danny Westneat agree with me.
There’s a lot to Sara’s post and you should go and read it, but to summarize the most crucial and strongest arguments are that (i) parking lots make the current environment worse; (ii) revenue from lots will make it harder for development to pencil out; and (iii) it’ll be hard to take away the parking once it becomes burdensome. Rebuttals after the jump.
To the first point, I’m not the land-use professional that Sara is, but I view “empty parking lot” or “gravel pit” — the current alternatives — as worse than a parking lot. They do even less to attract people to the neighborhood and look even more blight-y.
As for development penciling out, there are plenty of empty lots, generating no revenue for anyone, that are currently available for development. We’re a long way from having to take out parking in order to build right next to the station. At any rate, those parking lots would be lucky to gross $100/day. I don’t know anything about real estate development but I suspect that kind of gross revenue isn’t deterring anything.
Her third point is the strongest one, and it’s one significant reason I’m glad there are no publicly owned lots in the corridor. There’s always a risk that their presence gets too entrenched and makes it difficult to take out in the future. Fortunately, we have a Mayor that’s very pro-density and lukewarm about cars, and a executive order that is designed to be a temporary exception. Moreover, in the long run economic logic can induce a privately-owned lot to go away. Sara’s right that we have to remain vigilant about this, but I’m more relaxed about it than she is.
In a few weeks I hope to bring this into a broader discussion of station access.
*Sarcasm doesn’t translate well online, but this is sarcasm.