Recommendations 2: Parts 1-4

The final recommendations will start coming out this week.

And the final recommendations that you’ll see will be:

Let’s invest in people and ideas, not concrete.

Aim high. Really high.

This will make sense when we get there. Each part should appear at about 8 am, one each day.

  • Part 1 – Charts  – this one’s boring
  • Part 2 – How to “hide the decline” – warming up a bit
  • Part 3 – Wages and pouring concrete – the root cause problem
  • Part 4 – Plans
  • Afterword

Everything you wanted to know about Downtown Spokane Parking

Interstate 90 in Spokane, Washington

Image via Wikipedia

Even if the report is 7 years out of date now: executive summary a 4-4-05.pdf

I have been down town many times in the past 6 weeks and was struck by the empty parking spaces and garages.  Some garages, like the Parkade, appear to have closed off the top 3 or 4 floors due to lack of people parking down town.

Curious, I found the above linked report from 2004:

Data findings for the general downtown area can be summarized as follows.

  • Overall occupancy of the downtown reaches a peak capacity of 63.8% in the peak hour (i.e., 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.).
  • • At the peak hour, the downtown maintains an available supply of approximately 2,683 on and off-street parking stalls.
  • • The on-street parking systems in the Core and West End Zones of the downtown operate with high turnover and utilization. The Core Zone reaches 89.7% occupancy at its maximum peak hour and the West End reaches 84.4%.
  • • While on-street occupancies are high in the Core and West End Zones, both zones have low utilization of off-street facilities. Off-street facilities in the Core Zone do not exceed peak hour utilization in the mid-60% range, while off-street facilities surveyed in the West End Zone do not exceed the mid-50% range. At its highest peak hour, the Core Zone maintains a minimum of 1,102 available off-street stalls. This relationship underscores the need for a better system of wayfinding/signage, communication, lighting/landscaping and pricing that draws patrons into off-street facilities.
  • • Time stay violations are high in the downtown study area. This is particularly evident in the Core Zone. The situation in the Core Zone is likely the result of the high number of 1-hour meters (and 30-minute meters) in the zone, which is out of sync with a patron’s average time stay of approximately 1.5 hours. A review and reconsideration of the mix of time stay allowances in the Core Zone is recommended. The conversion of 1-hour meters to 90-minute meters was implemented in November 2004.

Since 2004, the economy here has worsened and there appear to more empty spaces at peak times, probably due to an increased number of buildings and office space for sale or lease. In other words, empty buildings.

The normal market response is to lower the price to increase demand.

But Spokane’s response was to reduce the supply of free parking in outlying areas. They did this by expanding the area where parking meters are installed to north of the river (and I think also just south of I-90) under the belief that downtown customers were parking outside the downtown area and walking in to downtown in order to avoid paying for parking.

Now, the city has short term on street parking meters in an area where, well, there are hardly any businesses that need short term parking.  These spaces seem to be mostly unused most of the day. And downtown still has a lot of unused parking spaces. We have a bunch of resources going unused and not being put to productive purposes. Not good.

Why not lower the price? The City can’t. The City uses the parking meter revenue to pay off the costs associated with the River Park Square Parking Garage fraud.  In a city that has too much parking, the city over spent to build a parking garage to add more parking. But this citizen funded infrastructure greatly increased the value of downtown land, which just happens to be owned by … let’s not go there. Besides, they’ll charge us for parking …