Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Paid Public Parking in Tacoma is Stupid

First, did ya forget that you and I already own the Parking Spaces in Tacoma? We have paid and paid and paid for them.

Second, Tacoma is a tiny tiny tiny city. With a tiny tiny tiny downtown. In Seattle, for instance, there are at least 10 neighborhoods (but actually more), that are all about the size of Tacoma's downtown.
About half of Dtown Ttown would fit inside Ballard.

There are about 17,ooo parking spots downtown. More or less.

So, there is never, and I mean never a problem to find a place to park your car in downtown. Not yet. I've lived here almost 30 years, and I have yet to have to park more than 3 blocks away from anywhere I wanted to park. (and this includes those days when I have a carfull or a truckfull of merchandise for my store...all through the 90s and right now!)

If I walk outside my shop here at 712 Broadway, within 2 blocks I can count 38 empty pay parking slots. And....12 empty free slots on a Monday morning. That top picture was taken just on last August 11, Tuesday at 1 pm) (I'm only counting the ones I can see, and not the ones behind locked doors.)
And that is with streets under construction within 6 blocks of me, which moves parked cars closer to me and farther away from me.

In the future, when all the condos are full in downtown, and when all the empty retail is full up again...then we should talk Paid Parking.......but not yet.

This whole paid parking idea is the half-baked idea of City Mangler, Eric Anderson. He and uber-capitalist Julie Anderson are fibbers. Don't ya love how their rhetoric is "I love society, I love community, I love business...." but every syllable that falls from their respective cakeholes is really about how to get more money from us in User Taxes.........those little tiny ways of extracting money for municipal services that we already have paid for and pay for again and again again.

Instead of getting a Parking Tax in the bi-yearly tax bill (property owners) or higher rent (renters) they want to squeeze it out of us a dollar or 2 at a whack.

I am in my shop daily, and I hear this:
"Am I gonna get a ticket? I've been parked for 2 hours and I'm not done..."
"I have an appointment at the dentist, will I get a ticket?"
"I want to go down to Pacific and eat, but I guess I have to move my car."
In other words, the draconian Parking Time Limits and fear of a ticket, has scared shoppers and $$$$$ away from me, away from all merchants in our area. And for no good reason.

I think that the blogosphere support for Paid Parking comes from 3 main types of vainglorious emotional thinking...

1.Small Penis Behavior.
A lot of people that have just moved to Tacoma, say, have lived here less than 10 years, are just a bit ashamed that they live in Tacoma. They have internalized the criticism that others have slammed this cute little city with for years. In order to make themselves feel as if they live in a big city that is muscular they want to install "big city services and features" in order to deflect that emotional feeling of being the little kid in the playground.

2. Sometimes Imitation isn't the Sincerest Form of Flattery, sometimes it's a real lack of imagination.
There is more to life than aping a bad decision just because someone else does it. Surely, you've heard the story of the mom who asked an angry child "Just because Johnny jumps off the bridge, does that mean you have to do it too?" Just because some smart ass comes to town and is The Parking King, doesn't mean you have to fall into lockstep just because it is the latest Urban Planning fad.
Tacoma has many features of other cities its size, and many features of small towns...we are charming and we need to find solutions that are correct for Tacoma. A little imagination would reveal that City Mangler, Eric Anderson's solution to "Tacoma's Parking Problem" (which doesn't even exist!) is nothing more than a blood-letting of a thousand cuts. If you think parking in downtown Tacoma is a problem, stop driving in! Bus, train, walk, or bike.
I bussed all over Tacoma during the 80s and 90s with my 3 children to pay bills and do light shopping. We went to parks in the South end, we attended child activities using the bus. Amazing!
Tacoma needs more bus routes more often. Tacoma needs a program to encourage the downtown office workers to stop driving into town in their big fat cars when all they need to come to work with is a small backpack...a person and her backpack can,
a) Walk.
b) Bus.
c) Bike.
d) Train.
e) Carpool. (This is what I mean by a lack of imagination...sometimes the solution isn't Taxing Your Car, ie ...Paid Parking)
Although I love to make fun of The Link thru town, I use it all the time! So do the hobos, which is why I call it The Hobo Train, because it is.
I used to live on N. 21st street and on N.13th street between Pine and Junett. It takes only 20 minutes to walk to downtown, or walk to Proctor. I had my choice of 3 different bus routes all within 6 blocks of my houses to get anywhere I wanted to go. So stop whining.

3. The money that will get pumped into the meters is a tiny amount...out of a middle-class income. But it burdens those who can least afford it.
But for the rest of us, those who make less than $ 40,000, 40 thou! a year...this shit adds up!
A dollar here, a dollar there and pretty soon there is millions streaming into city coffers for no reason other than to habituate you to pay for a government service that you have paid for, and there is no need to charge for it except to charge for it.
This is a naked money grab. Does Tacoma need this money to improve its services? No. Plenty of money in other places for fixing roads and city sidewalks.
This "Pay for Play" is part of a scheme government types drummed up and it spread like wildfire from the Reagan Years and Beyond. (And I like government!)

Who drives in and parks on the streets all damn day? Lazy people with money. Poor people with no transit service from the hinterlands where they are stuck. Lazy people with money should be taxed other ways, or not at all. Poor people already pay a disproportionate amount of their income in State Sales Tax.

Look, you love to go on and on about how much you love living in Tacoma. So why are you constantly trying to change it into a big big city which you hate? A big big city is crowded with super-high real estate prices, and super-high rent.
It nicklesAnddimes you to death.
Tacoma is wonderful, but it will soon be not-so-wonderful in small incremental creeping ways, if you don't wake up and smell the freshly roasted Fair Trade coffee!

Here's a list of what has been done in Tacoma that is just right.
1. The Tacoma Dome, tho that project is not finished. It has an unfinished parking scheme. Cars stream in to get to the Dome on skinny surface residential/business streets. When a large event is on, a 20 block radius of the neighborhood becomes impassable for hours. There needs to be a huge dedicated overpass/road directly into the Dome parking lots, and more transit needs to be added from towns outside the Tacoma core. Also, that blue diamond paint job is plain FUGLY.

2. Moving the Transit/Train center to Puyallup avenue is just right. It should be a transit center. Duh. Trains, buses, freeway. Yup. Perfect. Tho I don't like how the Hobo Link runs thru town, I really really like it. I like thinking of the Czech people that built it. Keep building on more public transit, and Tacoma will rule!

3. Remodeling the Union Station, putting museums in a concentrated circle, and reusing old buildings for the UWT (in spite of the MBA program) is Brilliant! Compact and busy, this lower Pacific neighborhood is perfect! And, it was done by homegrown Tacomans....long before I had to suffer with Julie and Eric Anderson, City Mangler.

4. Establishing neighborhoods with signs and emphasis on character is one way the city has been kind and neighborly. One thing all cities desperately need is more kindness and neighborlyness.
Hi neighbor! The crows dumped your garbage can, let me help pick it up.....
Hi neighbor! I love your Farmer's Market, so I'll take the bus to shop there.
Hi neighbor! I see your park needs some cleaning up, so I'll be happy to come on a Saturday morning and help with the work. (You get the idea...we're all connected, yet we are different and alike)

5. Revitalizing the waterfront. I own The Waterfront! Thanks for the Nixon Era Superfund Legislation and the EPA.
The water ! It's mine and yours, and I think you forget that. It does not belong to corporations for them to build big nasty condos on. It's my space to enjoy what God made for soothe my soul and to give me space to breathe when the crowded city presses me down.
I know some of you new kids in town think that we Tacomans didn't know we lived on the Water, but we know. We just didn't go bragging on it all the time because we knew you'd move in and forget to bargain down the price when buying a home, thereby driving real estate prices through the "roof", meaning those of us who live here and work here, will never be able to buy a house. Thanks.

6. Click! Allowed me to have a job in my jammies. Till they refused to hook me up downtown, bitch. But still. Investing in the internet to go almost everywhere in Tacoma is a great example of a Good Idea that creates commerce, increases intelligence, and allows rednecks to insult liberals, and vice versa, from the comfort of their homes, or from their desk at Russell.