Parking Non-Problem 1. “The Real Downtown ‘Parking Problem’: There’s Too Much of It.”

There’s not enough parking in downtown NA — just the red areas.

The topic is “the gap between parking reality and parking perception” in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Confidentials visited in 2014. We took the Green Line from our room, walked around St. Paul for hours, and enjoyed it immensely.

In Parking Non-Problem 2, we’ll learn “How to respond when someone complains ‘There’s no parking.'”

The Real Downtown ‘Parking Problem’: There’s Too Much of It … A photographic tour of spots and lots in St. Paul’s booming Lowertown district, by Eric Jaffe (City Lab)

To hear USA Today describe it, the Lowertown district in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, is officially “up and coming.” In addition to some great restaurants and a year-round Farmers’ Market, the neighborhood is now home to Nice Ride bike-share stations and the new Green Line light rail. The St. Paul Saints, the city’s indy pro baseball club, started playing at the new CHS Field in Lowertown this spring.

But to hear the local papers describe Lowertown, the area’s emergence at a downtown destination has come with a severe parking shortage. Here are two city officials speaking to the Pioneer Press this spring:

Jack Gerten, who manages the Farmers’ Market for the city, said he was trying to balance the needs of residents, potential area business patrons and the Saints.

“Lowertown’s coming alive, but unfortunately, there’s consequences,” Gerten said.

City parking manager Gary Grabko added: “The development happening, private and public, has totally changed the parking situation … especially in Lowertown. That’s the reality of the problem.

Local transportation planner and blogger Nathaniel Hood sees things a bit differently. In several recent posts he’s pointed out that there is a parking problem in Lowertown—there’s too much of it. To help make his case, Hood took his camera to Lowertown on a recent “bustling Saturday afternoon” and photographed the shortage.