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Last week I posted a link to staff writer Jim Wise’s story on Ninth Street parking (DN, http://nando.com/v3) and wrote:
“People love Ninth Street. Paying to park? Not so much. Tell us, what's the big deal about the city charging $1/hr to park on the commercial strip?”
Here’s what some of you said:
Never miss a local story.
Chuck Morton: Americans and their cars. They expect close and convenient FREE parking at every destination. They expect excellent roads to everywhere with no tolls and low gas taxes. They fully expect to go 90 mph with no consequences and no one to get in their way. Americans will pay premium prices for luxury automobiles without regard to fuel efficiency and complain bitterly if the price of gas goes up. If the price of gas goes down they will trade the car in for a larger faster one.
If the true cost of parking space was paid by the person parking what might we see? Empty parking spaces. When tolls are charged for expensive new highways what do we see? Empty highways. When gasoline taxes are increased to reflect the cost of roads we drive on what do we get? Angry letters to the editor.
Maybe we would be better served if we all walked to our destinations. That might relieve traffic and parking concerns and narrow our enormous American butts.
Justin Brehm: If the lot is intended for Ninth Street parking then it seems like those businesses need to be paying the city a fee for its use and validating parking for their customers.
Matt Maggio: Chuck, either parking is available – and inexpensive – or the city loses tax money as shoppers flee to the mall or shop online.
DeWarren K. Langley: Is there not more significant issues challenging our community worthy of coverage?
Mark Schultz: The thing is to step back and ask what it means. Whether it’s the future of a neighborhood park, or the decision to start charging customers of established businesses money to park (when customers of new businesses park free), these smaller stories show Durham in transition. There are winners and losers as we adjust to these changes. The refusal of people to use the Ninth Street lot shows a tension between the people of Durham and the public policy adopted to keep that lot in the public domain.
Chuck Morton: What will save the downtowns and what is currently changing life as we know it there and near Ninth Street is the new residents in all the large new buildings going up nearby. A walkable neighborhood with many residents needs less parking than the traditional suburban mode. I live in downtown Carrboro, and when I hit the town my car stays parked in my driveway.
Matt Maggio: Only reason the “next generation” is “breaking free” of automobile dependency, Chuck, is POVERTY. Half the past five years’ college grads now are underemployed, and many have student-loan debt.
Sally S. K. McIntee: In this day and age, now that we have ability to pay with a card, I don't understand the issue. People should be conscious that parking is not free, and $1/hr. doesn’t cover it, which is why businesses need to help pay for the pavement their customers use.
The burden should fall on both to maximize limited resource awareness. Parking generates costs that are not apparent by use, and everyone seems to take free parking for granted. Besides the actual real estate involved, there is the maintenance, the extra storm-water management required, the opportunity loss for the street trees and water table recharging. There is opportunity loss for tax revenue, as tax revenue covers buildings and human activity, not dead space. There is opportunity loss for not using and developing a frequent and extensive bus service, and there is the cost to pedestrians, and in the local AC bills, from extra heat radiating into the micro-climate, as a black surface in the summer sun that makes it more unbearable.
The only gain we have is for the merchants nearby who gain business revenue, which is reason enough for them to to cover all of these external costs to the wider community. There should be parking for all forms of transportation, too. There should always include ample handicapped spaces, bicycle and scooter parking, and benches at bus stops.
If the community is serious about becoming a greener and creating more comfortable pedestrian/customer ambiance, while also boosting business, then there should be a combination of a “parking lot tax” on nearby businesses and a “user fee tax” for those who are using the parking. Car owners will not linger, and long-term parking users will choose more remote “free” locations, if they are paying for parking so every space gets frequent use, which increases business revenue as customers use and share the limited resource that parking is.