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Parking Lots Are a Waste of Space and a Drag on Growth

Forbes article released today: Parking lots really do negatively effect a community.

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Written by DeletedUser

Want to build up your community? Take a look at urban sprawl and real estate. This recent Forbes article clearly demonstrates how parking lots drag down communities, and why.

"Parking lots are — with only a handful of exceptions — the best possible way of destroying a city’s soul. They’re gruesome, lifeless places, and I’m constantly astonished by the way in which governments and developers are convinced that they’re a great idea. Instead, local government should act as a brake on private developers’ desires to build out new parking: while that might (or might not) be good for an individual commercial operation, it can at the same time be bad for the city as a whole. Cambridge is living proof that this can be done: other cities, including New Haven and Hartford, should follow its lead."

This is great insight as to WHY parking lots are doing damage, it's all about how we get around and it's impact on urban centers:

"Now there are obviously going to be more factors than just parking spaces at play here, but certainly this is an observable phenomenon: go into any dilapidated inner city area and look around. What do you see? Lots of empty parking lots.

Parking lots and strip malls are both ideals of a car-culture and suburban ideal that never actually panned out. As more people opt for a denser more walkable urban experience, these will become relics of a different economy.

Which is a good thing. Car-culture is unsustainable in its current form. Gas prices will go up. The environmental burden will be felt sooner or later. Commuting is a huge waste of productive potential.

Suburbia will survive the shift, but suburbs themselves will change as driving becomes too expensive an option for many Americans. Telecommuting is the future."

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DeletedUser

What if there was a compromise? Keep the parking lots and add another piece to it. For example what if the parking was underground and the top was a cool park with interactive sculptures and was well lit at night. Now, instead of a creepy parking lot you have a beautiful space that people want to congregate around even at night.

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DeletedUser

I think part of the argument is that mass-car lots encourage driving instead of using public transportation, which is essentially draining cities of resources, segmenting the populations, and sustaining urban sprawl. Though you bring up a good point, the aesthetics of these lots and useability is not designed well in general. If they were to be integrated into the design of these hubs, would that change the report?

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DeletedUser

I think part of the argument is that mass-car lots encourage driving instead of using public transportation, which is essentially draining cities of resources, segmenting the populations, and sustaining urban sprawl. Though you bring up a good point, the aesthetics of these lots and useability is not designed well in general. If they were to be integrated into the design of these hubs, would that change the report?

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DeletedUser

I agree with you, it's not sustainable and we don't want to encourage driving. At the same time it would be naive to suggest that the car-culture and commuting model will be gone in the next 10-30 years.

Something that might be worth looking into in the Northern Liberties area in Philadelphia. They've radically changed the area from basically nothing to a really cool hip area that all the young professional/artsy kids live as well as families. One of the best things is that the parks are not owned by the government, but the community so they have equity in keeping it awesome. http://www.nlna.org/

Perhaps changing the parking lot to a park is difficult in the beginning, but what if the parking lot agreed to have farmers markets? Also typically the parking lots are surrounded by buildings and you could use the side of the buildings to project a movie on friday nights during the summer for people in the neighbor hood to watch.

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DeletedUser

Amanda, depending on what types of areas we are talking about, accessible transportation to other areas is not always available in underserved neighborhoods. In my mind, accessible transportation should be the first priority and then think about the parking, but I definitely appreciate the sentiment. Zach, I like the park above, parking below (as needed) and I love the idea behind nina.org. Thanks to both for posting.

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DeletedUser

I agree, I come from a very car-centric community. But that's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, isn't it? I think a part of this inspiration involves supporting public transportation.

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