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Opposite Ends of I-90: Same Old Same Old Parking Story

2013 July 8
by dan bertolet


In the world of contemporary urban planning nothing is more universal than battles over parking.  Travel 3,000 miles east from Seattle on I-90 and you’ll find familiar debates raging over how much parking should be built with new development.

You’ll also find a similar pro-car bias:

  [Boston officials] are deliberately discouraging construction of new spaces.

No! They are only relaxing regulations that require developers to build parking. Nothing is being proposed to actually penalize developers for building parking if they want to.

Not until after the issue has been framed as heavy-handed social engineering does the second paragraph explain all the important reasons why a City might not want to mandate the construction of too much parking:

The goal is to encourage the use of public transportation, and to devote more land and money to affordable housing, open spaces, and other amenities. Officials also say the city’s youthful population is becoming more accustomed to life without a car.

Yes! Though they might have added that cars are also one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Globe article also provides the obligatory claim by a resident that “the reality is that people here are going to have cars…,” contradicting the demographic trends cited in the article itself.  Similarly, in an apparent effort to pander to that misinformed, selfish concern, Seattle mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck said at a recent forum that “many of us still have to drive … and I don’t think the City should be in denial about that.”

In a City where the vast majority of public transportation dollars are still spent on car infrastructure, such a claim is laughable, not to mention a straw man insult to those who hope to rebalance a dysfunctional transportation system that has been manipulated to favor cars for half a century.

The people truly in denial are those who don’t understand the importance of transforming our cities away from car dependence, and who cannot recognize that excess parking is one of today’s biggest barriers to sustainable urban development.


This post is part of a (sporadic) series.