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July 30, 2013


"Which, as noted above, amounts to a big tax reduction for large retailers and a big tax increase for downtown small businesses."

Did you really mean to say the city meter plan would be a big tax increase for downtown small businesses, Brian? I don't get it.

Otherwise, well argued.

Jim, when I wrote that line I guess I was thinking of "tax" in a very broad sense.

Meaning, a cost to be borne by downtown small businesses that resulted from the City installing parking meters. That cost would result from the estimated 20% drop in visitors to downtown after meters were installed.

Confusing language. I changed that sentence to "...and a big revenue decrease for downtown small businesses." Thanks for pointing out how poorly I said what I tried to say.

Favoring the consideration of meters is not necessarily anti-progressive...to your points (others have made most of these points before, and perhaps these repeat thoughts your correspondent has already had or expressed):

1) There is a subset of downtown blocks (600 or 700 stalls) that operate at 92% occupancy at peak; this is well above the 85% threshold. There are good reasons to consider this demand management component and the City's proposal does so. It's not just about revenue.

2) A metering scheme could include a compensatory mechanism if there truly are equity issues with the big box stores. It happens, though, that the Liberty and Chemeketa Parkades (2 of 3) also serve small streetside storefront businesses, and do not exclusively serve the big box stores. This question of equity deserves more study, but it is possible that opponents of meters are overstating its magnitude significantly.

3) This has merit. The City has bollixed up almost everything, and even when they do something reasonable, they manage to compromise it or outright 'eff it up. Still, the parking proposal is offered in good faith - neither Bennett nor Peterson, as several have pointed out, could possibly have bad faith reasons to advance such an unpopular idea. The only reason to advance such an unpopular idea is that it actually has merit.

4) Autoism is so deeply entrenched that many people can't think around their cars and have large blind spots with them and the heavily subidized infrastructure that services them. There are good reasons to be sceptical of autoism and its popularity, and one of the main problems with autoism is it prioritizes machine over man: It counts cars downtown, not people, and has created a pernicious monoculture in transportation. If we want a more healthy downtown ecosystem, we have to have a more diverse transportation ecosystem, and this means managing the demand for car parking and creating more choices for people to get downtown - more freedom, more choice. Who doesn't want more choices on how to get downtown?! But right now most people feel the only way to go downtown is to drive.

Autoism has also contributed to the demolition of historic buildings and hollowed out the urban fabric of downtown with surface parking lots. Here's a map of the downtown off-street surface area devoted to parking. http://breakfastonbikes.blogspot.com/2013/05/downtown-parking-lots-free-parking-metered-parking.html More autoism is not the solution to downtown's ills, but rather has been a huge ingredient in its sickness. It has exacted an enormous cost on downtown. (Not to mention autoism's contributions to greenhouse gases.)

Free parking is a mid- and late-20th century solution that didn't actually solve much. Change is scary, but progress in the 21st century it is increasingly clear requires transitioning away from free parking and moving towards land uses, urban forms, and transportation systems that prioritize people over cars. Cars won't go away, and they are terrific for some things, but they are way overused and too heavily subsidized right now.

Breakfast on Bikes, I added a (5) to my post, partly in response to your comment. It is well known that dense urban areas are the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient living/working possibilities for us humans. We need to encourage people to visit downtown Salem, not push them out to Sprawl World.

I share your vision for a less autocentric society. But as noted in the new (5), cars are going to be the main way people get around in the Salem area for a long, long time. Question is: where and how will cars be driven?

It'd be a lot better to encourage people to drive downtown, park, and then walk to the many businesses and recreational opportunities there. Alternatively, they will drive all over the place to free parking at Keizer Station, Commercial Street, Lancaster Drive, and such.

I don't understand how keeping onstreet parking free in downtown Salem is a capitulation to "autoism."

The parking spaces are there. They cost much less to maintain than the parking garages. The usage almost certainly is not as high as the City maintains. My understanding is that the City had to manipulate data unfairly to come up with a 92% figure for a small area of downtown at certain times of the day.

This is similar to the City's game-playing with Third Bridge plans. Ooh! Congestion is horrible! But not really. Only an hour or two a day, and there are many other ways to deal with that small problem than build a $700 million new bridge.

Likewise, the City looks at occasional times when it is a bit difficult to find an on-street parking space and cries, "We must have parking meters!" Not true. This is just an excuse to justify an already-made decision.

Regarding your faith in City leaders and elected officials... wow.

These are the same people who voted 9-0 to build the Third Bridge. Also, the same people who allowed the five US Bank trees to be cut down for no good reason. And now you believe that they MUST have a good reason to want downtown parking meters?

I've paid almost $750 (unwillingly) for public record requests related to the US Bank tree removal decision. Believe me, the documents don't put the city officials that you have confidence in, in a good light. Politicking and backroom dealmaking is how the healthy beautiful trees came to be cut down, not for any legal or otherwise reasonable reason.

The City of Salem can't be trusted to make fair policy decisions in the public interest. That's my conclusion after reviewing the big stack of public records. If you have more faith in the decision-making ability of the Mayor, City Manager, Public Works Director, Councillors, and other city leaders, great. I just haven't seen evidence that this faith is deserved.

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