Windmill dunk by Richard Florida: “America devotes far too many of its precious resources to parking.”


Outside, it’s New Albany, and in this map prepared a few years back by Jeff Gillenwater, parking areas in downtown are colored red. Granted, not all are public auto-friendly spaces, and perhaps pieces of the wasted acreage have since disappeared for infill, as with Breakwater.

The point remains: the red splotches should be vastly reduced — and as far as Harvest Homecoming’s parking needs for one week each year are concerned, just don’t go there.

Would you rather generate income 51 weeks each year, or only one?

The article at CityLab is Parking Has Eaten American Cities, and Richard Florida’s conclusion is the place to start.

America devotes far too many of its precious resources to parking. This is especially troubling given that driving is in decline. For example, the share of Seattle households with a car has fallen for the first time in at least 40 years, and the percentage of U.S. high school seniors with a driver’s license is at “a record low”—down from 85.3 percent in 1996 to 71.5 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, ride-sharing is up, and cities and real estate developers are striving to reduce parking requirements.

Joni Mitchell famously sang: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” It’s time we reclaim our cities from car storage and use the space for what we need more of, from housing and bike lanes to sidewalk cafes and parks.

As always, Florida offers statistical evidence.

Parking eats up an incredible amount of space and costs America’s cities an extraordinary amount of money. That’s the main takeaway of a new study that looks in detail at parking in five U.S. cities: New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Des Moines, and Jackson, Wyoming.

The study, by Eric Scharnhorst of the Research Institute for Housing America (which is affiliated with the Mortgage Bankers of America), uses data from satellite images, the U.S. Census, property tax assessment offices, city departments of transportation, parking authorities, and geospatial maps like Google Maps to generate inventories of parking for these five cities. (The inventories include on-street parking spaces, off-street surface parking lots, and off-street parking structures.)

Friday evening is going to be an interesting test case. There’ll be two food and drink openings downtown, and maybe a third, and also Schmitt Furniture’s birthday concert is at the amphitheater. Friday’s always the busiest night of the week for eating out, anyway.

If all this comes down on Friday and the top two levels of the (free) parking garage are still mostly empty …