Commentary: Parking As a Generational Issue?

For much of the last week or so, key Vanguard discussions have focused around the issue of parking.  What I find fascinating about this discussion is that here we are in supposed progressive Davis – and yet the community, as bicycle friendly and proud of that as it is, still ends up with a major issue being a lack of parking in the core area.

Arguments have been floated that what hurts retail is not having sufficient parking to allow shoppers the ability to purchase and transport their purchases home.  Others argued that customers will be less inclined to go to a store where they need to pay for parking to purchase goods.

There are some inherent problems with these arguments – paid parking is a way of life in many malls and other large urban centers.  For a recent CityLab analysis, How to Survive a Retail Meltdown, lack of parking is not the issue.

CityLab writes, “The proliferation of half-vacant shopping centers and abandoned malls on the fringes of cities has become such a pervasive problem that we have a new word for it: greyfields.  In fact many of these have ample parking.  The problem is ‘their business model (is) slipping away.'”

They argue, “It’s the stores you have to drive to that are in trouble, reflected in rising retail vacancy rates in many metro areas.”  But it’s not because of parking – it is because the land use they were designed for has gone the way of the dinosaur.

They also note, “In many cases, you will find that arterial roads—those most likely to host greyfields—are zoned exclusively for suburban-style big box and strip-mall developments. These districts often require an ocean of parking and massive setbacks from the road while prohibiting common non-retail uses, including residential, light industrial, and occasionally even office space.

“The perverse result is that developers can’t turn these greyfields into the denser mixed-use developments that residents and city managers alike yearn for. Even without new development or rehabilitation, it is often difficult to repurpose old retail developments.”

I made the comment that I find it fascinating that in progressive Davis we are arguing over parking.  Which makes me wonder if anyone under 40 believes our problem is not enough parking.

While I’m no longer under 40 – my shopping habits probably more closely mirror those younger than me than those older than me.  I go to downtown every day to work.  Parking is not an issue for me because I purchase my own parking spot.  And yet, I almost never buy retail downtown.

Why would I, when I get exactly what I want, for cheaper, and delivered right to my door in two days by ordering on Amazon?  That is the reality of the new economy and why retail is flagging.

So I was reading a fascinating conversation about whether we should have 30-minute parking or two-hour parking or four-hour parking – and I suddenly realized this was a great conversation, but it is a conversation between a limited demographic of people.

While it is true that those under 40 or those in their 20s are one day going to be over 40 – the point is that there are generational changes taking place in the shopping patterns of people, and those who are under 40 do their shopping very differently than those of the older generations.

The city is going to embark on a ton of policy questions related to the Core Area Specific Plan (CASP) and among those will be things like retail in the core area and downtown parking.  Those discussions will help determine what our downtown will look like and how the downtown will serve the community for a generation or more.

What becomes clear is that the conversation has to be broader than the few demographics participating in the Vanguard discussion.

While it is true those who are over the age of 60 have a keen interest in our future – in a lot of ways the next generation is who is needed to be tailoring how we design the new downtown.

In the future – fewer and fewer people are going to make their major purchases in so-called brick and mortar stations.

It wasn’t long ago that people were arguing about the need to bring a Sears into Davis.  This year alone Sears has announced wave after wave of store closings – by the hundreds.  Going or gone are stores like Sears, JC Penney, Kmart, and Macy’s.

That business model is going.

The question that we have is to figure out how to structure our downtown in a new era.  And to understand that model we need to figure out how to get people under the age of 40 into the downtown.  Is parking the prohibitive issue for people under the age of 40 or are there other considerations?  Are people under the age of 40 even likely to purchase their retail products in the core area or should we be focusing on other types of businesses – like restaurants and entertainment – to lure them downtown?

Those are the questions we need to be asking and we need to reach out to a wider demographic in order to get their answers.  Any effort by the city to plan the CASP without getting input from those under 40 seems to be futile.

—David M. Greenwald reporting



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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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59 Comments

  1. Matt Williams

    “Arguments have been floated that what hurts retail is not having sufficient parking to allow shoppers the ability to purchase and transport their purchases home.  Others argued that customers will be less inclined to go to a store where they need to pay for parking to purchase goods.”

    David, a question you do not address in this article is whether the arguments being made are independent and free-standing in their own right, or are simply the strategic movement of pawns in a more elaborate chess game.

  2. Dianne C Tobias

    David, I agree that the issue is bigger than parking and not unique to Davis, although some parking will still be necessary even if our downtown is transformed into restaurants and entertainment as you predict.

    As an over 60, I struggle with my ingrained desire of ‘buy local’ while having less and less choice local. I have bought occasionally on Amazon and enjoy the hunt on eBay, but have resisted an Amazon Prime account for just this reason. Maybe it is generational but I don’t want my downtown to be completely eating and entertainment. I don’t want to only ‘shop’ on a screen. I am too tactile for that. If we all increase our online shopping that is all we will have along with the greyfields of downtown.

    1. Tia Will

      Hi Dianne

      I hear your concern, but do not share it in the same way. I feel that there will always be space for the small boutique or “tactile” type shopper. There are still a number of these types of shops in Davis although there has been the loss of several notable favorites over time. This is very different from the shopping experience of Ace where as Matt has pointed out, most know what they want and are in and out as soon as they have located it, or at a department store where some like to “browse” but many others are put off by the size and impersonality of the experience.

  3. Don Shor

    In many cases, you will find that arterial roads—those most likely to host greyfields—are zoned exclusively for suburban-style big box and strip-mall developments. 

    Irrelevant to Davis, since it is not a large urban center, has only one mall (which is very student-focused and appears successful), has limited big box and virtually no strip-malls. The reality is that many of the urban planning principles being discussed don’t translate readily to the situation in Davis.

    I go to downtown every day to work.  Parking is not an issue for me because I purchase my own parking spot.  

    Useful data points for future discussions. How about your staff? Your wife? Who shops with the kids, does errands with them after school? When you fix up your yard or do a project in the house, where do you buy supplies?

    While it is true that those under 40 or those in their 20s are one day going to be over 40 – the point is that there are generational changes taking place in the shopping patterns of people, and those who are under 40 do their shopping very differently than those of the older generations.

    Actually the important demographic units are:

    • Under 30
    • 30 – 50, particularly parents.
    • Over 50.
    1. Howard P

      You are absolutely correct Don… ~30-50 are the “acquisition years” as to retail…people are getting pretty established in their careers, and tend to increase spending on “things” rather than ‘entertainment’ particularly in the form of bars, restaurants, etc.

    2. David Greenwald

      “The reality is that many of the urban planning principles being discussed don’t translate readily to the situation in Davis.”

      Except that I think it limits our options going forward

  4. Keith O

    How many more restaurants and bars can our downtown support?

    We have locals trying to mess with parking either by charging for it, advocating for policies that results in less of it and even trying to dictate to a business that they can’t install their own parking.

    Once again we have a few loud voices trying to sway our council.

    One of my most frequent downtown destinations is Ace Hardware.  I live in Wildhorse so going to Home Depot in Woodland is a few miles farther, but they have better prices and ample parking with no charge.  Start making it harder for me to park and then on top of that charge me for it I’m gone.

      1. Mark West

        If we were to start building multi-use residential over commercial throughout the downtown, then we could support quite a few more. The greater the number of people living downtown, the greater the demand for food and entertainment.

      1. Howard P

        Per capita, compared to 40 years ago, YES! [assuming it was ‘in balance’, then]

        If you mean in ‘absolute terms’, I don’t know… will leave that to market professionals…

        1. David Greenwald

          Except that it’s not, because you are not considering the UC Davis students and out of town workers who come into Davis every day during the year.

        2. Keith O

          Plus the 100 downtown eateries are competing against the many other restaurants located all over Davis.

          Many have closed over the years so the demand can’t be that overwhelming.

        3. Mark West

          “Many have closed over the years so the demand can’t be that overwhelming.”
          Many small businesses close. That is just the nature of the business world. Doesn’t necessarily say anything about the demand.
          Perhaps a more interesting analysis would be to identify the type, and perhaps the perceived quality of each establishment. For instance, how many are full-service restaurants versus fast food type places? Just glancing at the list, I don’t see a number of high-quality food establishments, but rather a large selection of relatively inexpensive places of moderate quality. I think that tells you something about the current customer base. Creating more housing for professionals downtown could well change the customer demographic and the mix of venues over time.
           

    1. Michael Bisch

      “…even trying to dictate to a business that they can’t install their own parking.”

      This is a totally false argument, the very definition of a straw-man argument.  No one is denying any property owner the right to provide onsite parking. The CASP, Design Guidelines and zoning ordinance prescribe how and where onsite parking can be developed. These planning documents do not preclude onsite parking at all.

    2. Tia Will

      How many more restaurants and bars can our downtown support?”

      As many as will be patronized by the increasing number of UCD students and staff needed to support them. I am sure that there are people whose job is to make these kinds of estimates. Just because those of us in the over 50 group may not see that much appeal does not mean that the bulk of those affiliated with UCD currently and in the future do and will not.

      Living near downtown instead of just visiting intermittently has given me a new appreciation for just how vibrant and active our small downtown is. My recommendation would be, unless shopping for a large item, deliberately park a few blocks away. Enjoy the atmosphere, maybe get something to drink or an ice cream or gelato. You might have an entirely different experience of downtown.

       

      1. Ron

        Tia:  “This is very different from the shopping experience of Ace where as Matt has pointed out, most know what they want and are in and out as soon as they have located it, or at a department store where some like to “browse” but many others are put off by the size and impersonality of the experience.”

        I suspect that this is “factually untrue”, as mentioned by several commenters who apparently visit Davis ACE, regularly (including myself).  This also does not take into account the “multiple locations” of the hardware store itself (at least two will remain), the need for advice regarding projects, searching the inventory, etc.

        The lot in front of Davis ACE is used by their customers (who are simultaneously visiting other businesses, such as nearby restaurants), as well as those who aren’t going into Davis ACE at all.  I have witnessed the “turnover” at that lot, and it’s not as consistent (or frequent) as Matt is stating.  Some park there for short periods, some for longer periods.  The lot is well-used.

        If fees are charged solely within that single lot, nearby street parking will be further impacted. (Such proposed changes do not occur in a “vacuum”.)

        And yes – some commenters (who claim to be “pro-business”) have the gall to argue that Davis ACE shouldn’t even be allowed to build its own lot.

        Go figure.

      2. Ron

        Tia:  “My recommendation would be, unless shopping for a large item, deliberately park a few blocks away.”

        Matt’s suggestion (to reserve parking in surrounding neighborhoods for residents and employees) would take away the option you’re describing. It would also formally/legally shift the responsibility to provide parking for employees to surrounding neighborhoods, and would not account for visitors to those residences.

  5. Todd Edelman

    We need to frame this as access or acquisition of or participation in everything from shopping  to entertainment to social interaction, etc and then look at how all the tools compare in this regard… and this can also be a way to make the various tools adopt features of each other. Mainly people will be interested in how it affects them, but the whole needs to be considered.

    SO, FOR EXAMPLE:
     
    + Amazon gets you stuff at home with risk of getting sweaty, wet or worse, but with a premium for speed, plus you don’t get to touch it until you get it. Also, delivery vehicles roam neighborhoods and can create environmental and safety problems. Using Amazon also provides no exercise and very little social interaction;

    + Automobile can be a convenient way to gather and carry things. But movement is often congested and parking is not always priced irresponsibly. You can’t drive them legally or safely when intoxicated. They are at least noisy, and at worse threaten others with gas and particle emissions or their mass, colliding. Driving alone provides no exercise and very little social interaction;

    + Bicycle can be a convenient way to gather and carry small amounts of things at shorter distances as long as they are not sensitive to heat and moisture. Cycling provides exercise though at a risk of sweating and provides reasonable social interaction in areas where traffic is slower and there is less of it, etc.

    THEN:
    ++ Bicycle first of all needs to feel reasonably safe for people from 8 to 80 years old and anything less is discriminatory and anti-equity. It can be more car-like with readily-available add-ons (at the factory or after-market) that help it carry goods, smaller people and dogs, also protecting them from moisture, OR with things like lockers in central areas of town e.g. the Davis Depot (so e.g. after work you can leave cumbersome things there and go out to eat with a friend, and then pick them up on the way home to Sacramento by train) or Central Park (after shopping at Farmers Market you can store your purchases, go hang out downtown for a while, and then pick the produce etc up afterwards and bike home. (I’m already starting to work on the latter…).

    Good access is – in part, or from one perspective – a design of the whole system using one or multiple tools that does not force a user to use a tool or  mode that does not have at least some of the features of the other modes.

    1. Keith O

      Anyone can ride their bike, store their goods in a locker and add all the side saddles they want, nobody is discriminating against them doing all this.

      I prefer to drive my air conditioned car and use my trunk for storage, everyone should respect that too.

  6. Dave Hart

    Last week Alan Miller offered an excellent suggestion regarding the closing off to traffic part of E Street and Third Street and transforming it into a pedestrian mall of sorts.  That is the type of change that brings people into an urban area and gets them out of their cars…as long as there is something along that mall that also attracts them.  I think of areas in the Bay Area that have paid parking and parking congestion that also attract people…College Avenue in Berkeley as an example…that successfully woos people away from a Home Depot/Target/WalMart mall less than four miles away.  People of all demographics will go where there is an attractive and interesting place to shop and eat.  Davis’ downtown grid’s biggest challenge is to avoid being boring not just to the under 30 demographic but the rest of us as well. Parking is not a real issue any more than how hot or cold it is as a reason not to go downtown.

    1. Alan Miller

      Last week Alan Miller offered an excellent suggestion

      For the record, this isn’t an original idea, as such.  I’ve heard members of the bicycle community suggest 3rd as a bicycle expressway (it connects to cross-city bikeways on both ends), and I’ve heard business interests suggest an E Street ped mall.  I combined those, and carefully picked the streets bordering each to allow for car circulation all around, and no more than a block walk to any business, plus the allowance of cars to travel low-speed into the mall area for pickups as that would be a major negative for businesses otherwise.

      I believe a parking structure at 3-4-E-F would be a necessity as part of such a plan, to offset lost street parking and provide space for storage of cars for new downtown residents in new mixed-use buildings.

      It’s semi-Utopian, though it meets a lot of varying needs as well and creates an urban walking “cross” centered at 3rd & E Streets.  This without removing all cars from downtown or making some business isolated to receive deliveries or have autos come for pickups (as access would be allowed at low speeds).

      I’ll flush it out someday when I have time, like maybe in 2027.   In the meantime, feel free to throw darts at it.

      1. Ron

        David:  Per your suggestion:

        “Parking situation sucks sometimes (plus I’ve had people park in my parking spot EVEN THOUGH I paid for my parking spot every month) . . .”

        “Driving is about 9 minutes to the MU and 14 minutes to Silo or the West Entry parking structure.”

        “I had friends who lost their parking spot because their leasing agent had accidentally given it to someone else and they couldn’t get it back. They had no parking ALL YEAR. In the terms of our lease it said construction would be done in just a couple of months. It lasted ALL YEAR. They even had dumpsters blocking my parking space on multiple occasions.”

        “There is close to no guest parking, they only have guest parking spots during non-business hours, 5 spots in front of the clubhouse but if you park there during office hours they will tow you! Parking spots range from $20-40 a month and they are all assigned. No street parking, the closet you can get is at the Goodyear about 0.5 miles away. If someone happens to park in your spot you can tow them but the towing company that complex uses is located in Dixon. If they pick up the phone, it takes them a while to come to Davis, and the person who parked in your spot could of already left.”

        “GUEST PARKING IS NONEXISTENT. You’ll never have anyone over and if you try, you’ll probably get towed. Even if someone takes your spot and you have to park somewhere else. They will lie to you in the beginning and guarantee to you that there is. 2ND street is a 15-20 minute walk; it is not close. BTW, $35/month for parking on top of your expensive rent.”

        “Second off my housemates all pay about 45 dollars a month for tandem parking and have had their Parking spots changed 3 times within a couple weeks. We have no guest parking at the U. And for the price you pay for parking and to have them kinda just inconvenience you like that is unacceptable.”

        “**This parking issue deserves its own section cus I’m an organized gal and it deserves emphasis.**
        – My parking was changed 3 times due to construction. The first time they put our TANDEM parking spot into a single spot, which means that one car would have to go without parking. I came in to ask about it and the person in charge of parking said “Oh, sorry. I’ll fix that and send you an e-mail. This will only be for a week and a half and you’ll have your old spot back!”

        “We were then assigned a parking spot that was 15 spots away from our original spot. They put a notice on our door that we had to move our cars by the end of the week or else we’d be towed. Okay, annoying, but still walkable. We’ll deal with it. Then they left a notice on our door the next week telling us to move our car **40 SPOTS OVER** or else “we will be forced to tow your vehicle at the owner’s expense.” The new parking spot is a whole building over from our building; the old spot was right in front of our building.”

        “Things that aren’t “wrong” but still unreasonable:
        – Tandem parking is $40 ($20 each car). Most other apartments have free parking.
        – 10 guest spots in an apartment complex that has FOUR 3+ story buildings. 10 spots. That’s it. There are hundreds of people living here. Why is there no guest parking? Do y’all hate friendship?”

        “Today your team had my car towed from the apartment complex where I live! That is absurd! I pay $800 a month to have my car towed?!!! I was parked in a 6pm-6am spot, because there are no guest parking spots available. Even if I wanted to purchase a spot, none are available. Effectively there is no parking for guests, which was promised to me and is featured on your website. This is advertising to new potential residents and it is a lie.”

        “You know what, I changed my mind. I was gracious with a 3 star because of the furniture and cleanliness. However, there is no guest parking except the few 9 to 6pm staff parking we can use after 6. But on a three day weekend the complex thinks it was okay to park more dang construction equipment in those few spots. My guests shouldn’t have to park on 2nd street, because The U doesn’t care about their tenants. Don’t live here. There are other clean places that actually care about you.”

        “Fourth, parking situation was a big fat joke. I paid so much money to park at my own apartment. Yet so many random people will park in my spot. If i total all the times I had to sit in my car for the cars in my spot to get towed, or wait for the owner to show up, I can easily say I waited at least 10 hours total. And things like this would happen sometimes at like 2 AM in the morning. I complained to the office multiple times, but they just said “oh, get the car towed!” It usually takes like an hour total for the tow truck to show up, and then get the car towed away. Do they really expect me to wait an entire hour every time someone parks in my spot? They need to come up with a better parking system, because seriously I paid hundreds of dollars over the months to park in a stupid spot super far from my apartment, that was ALWAYS taken by some other car.”

        “There was no gym access for the longest time, construction was so loud, the mold was disgusting, the parking was terrible, and living at the U was uncomfortable.”

        “Do you like high speed internet; fast and efficient washer and dryers; well lit, safe parking lots with ample guest parking; helpful staff that care about you after you sign the lease with reasonable pricing and fees? Congratulations! The U is NOT for you!

        ” . . .no guest parking, unless of course you want your guests to walk a mile or two from 2nd Street; pitch black parking lots that trip parents;.”

         

         

         

        1. Alan Miller

          Yeah, the Cantrill situation is what you get when the City believes the claims of greedevlopers teamed up with starry-eyed greenies.  The lie that the automobile parking is no longer needed.

          Hey, I’m both for development (in favor in Nishi, Covell Village, increased downtown mixed-use) and a huge bicycle / public-transit advocate.  But you don’t created public transit and bicycle use by the policy of starving people of places to park their cars.  You build infrastructure for alternate transportation FIRST, and then you can slowly back down on the number of parking spaces, once that is actually an issue.  Yes, there are much better ways to manage existing parking, and I’m all for that, too!

          What I don’t want to see as policy is SAGs and GDs pushing City gov into setting policy so they can squeeze some more space onto a lot and have waived the responsible contribution towards mitigation of the cumulative effects of all such projects.

        2. Alan Miller

          AND, this idea Uber and Lyft are some Utopia that will alleviate parking is only half true.  It’s great the vehicles aren’t stopped for long periods of time, but they often only carry a person or two, and I’ve also found, especially in San Francisco where I frequently bicycle, that these services’ drivers think nothing of stopping in bike lanes to discharge passengers as their own private short-term parking spaces – creating a great hazard to the bicycles who are supposed to use those lanes.  If you’ve not been to SF lately, Uber/Lyft are a huge percentage of the cars on SF streets these days, so this is no minor issue!

  7. Tia Will

    I prefer to drive my air conditioned car”

    Yes, that has been the preference of many for a very long time. I do not think that you are about to see it go away. However, I do think that it is undeniable that your choice to do so ( and mine on the increasingly limited times when I make that choice) does adversely affect the air quality of other members of my community. That does not apply to the use of a bicycle or ones feet.

    1. Keith O

      I guess you can try and build a wall or something to keep all of us on-the-fringe-of-towner’s cars from travelling downtown so we don’t affect the precious air quality of those that live near the downtown area.  But what are you going to do about the two nearby freeways and the days when the wind blows from them towards the downtown.  Maybe on those days you can get the freeway commuters to walk and ride bikes too.

      1. Tia Will

        Keith

        I don’t think that arguing from the extreme supports you case well. What I would propose is a very gradual transitioning to a system of excellent public transport for those living more peripherally. I am certainly no example of a carless or near carless lifestyle, but I believe that our mayor and his family are proof that it can be done and that we should be building systems to support a very gradual transition to this doubtless healthier lifestyle for the able bodied while maintaining support for those with children, the elderly and those with health issues. That we had an otherwise desirable to many project, Nishi, that was largely argued against on the basis of air pollutants and traffic concerns says to me a great deal about the restrictions on development imposed unnecessarily by our devotion to the automobile.

        1. Ron

          Not disagreeing with the importance of public transportation, but I’ve seen examples (even in San Francisco) where it’s not the most efficient method (especially during non-rush hour).  A relatively low-use line, running relatively infrequently and inconveniently, with few passengers.  And yet, right in the heart of the city. (I personally observed it making runs with few or NO ONE on it, at times.)

          During rush hours, it was more efficient (more people using it, and ran more frequently).

          Private transportation is not ALWAYS more efficient than public transportation. It’s usually well-suited to move large amounts of people to/from work, in large employment centers.
           

        2. David Greenwald

          It really depends on the location.  When I used to work in DC, I didn’t own a car.  I could get everywhere on the Metro and the few places I couldn’t they had a very easy to access zone system for cabs.

        3. Ron

          As a side note, some in S.F. complain about the “Google” buses (which I believe were using public transit stops).  There was also an underlying implication of “elitism”, at play.

        4. Ron

          David:  “It really depends on the location.  When I used to work in DC, I didn’t own a car.  I could get everywhere on the Metro and the few places I couldn’t they had a very easy to access zone system for cabs.”

          D.C. is entirely different, and has a substantial subway system.  It is a MAJOR federal employment center, providing employment for those living in surrounding areas. It is unlike anything around here.

        5. Ron

          Ron (quoting “Ron”):  “Private transportation is not ALWAYS more efficient than public transportation”.

          Hey – I got that “backwards”.  (Some kind of “Freudian slip”?)

    2. Jim Hoch

      Tia,

       

      I will note that most of my in town trips are by bike. However when visiting the framers market I note that many of the starry eyed greenies arrive by car.

        1. Ron

          ” . . . because – they’re at the Farmers’ market?”  🙂

          Just kidding.  Good call. (Although I suspect those at the Farmer’s Market think of themselves as “greenies”. And, they probably are – at least to some degree).

          Tomorrow’s article: What is a “greenie”? (And, are “starry-eyed” ones “better”?)

  8. James R

    I’m probably late to the game here, but keeping an eye on the Vanguard comments all day is both thoroughly exhausting…and sadly I have more productive things to do.

    David says:

    I made the comment that I find it fascinating that in progressive Davis we are arguing over parking.  Which makes me wonder if anyone under 40 believes our problem is not enough parking.

    I do. So let me provide a little “generational” perspective here. 25. Male. Graduated UCD in ’13 after attending all four years. I’ve lived at the same apartment now for going on 6 years.

    I live in West Davis. I work in Woodland for a small financial services company and make approximately the average income for an adult in the US. I commute by car because a bicycle is simply not practical, particularly in the winter months, and particularly for someone who is required wear a suit. I live in Davis because I love Davis. I bike as much as reasonably possible, but living in West Davis, it’s frequently not feasible especially if I need to head across town. I’ve grown fond of the people (most of them), the restaurants and entertainment, the campus activity and the never-ending shortage of “things” going on. I appreciate the community involvement and activism, the friendliness of the people, and the ease of getting around. That’s why, though I work outside, I want to make a life here in Davis.

    I order virtually everything I can on Amazon. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s (usually) cheap. Most of the time, I already know that I like or want the items that I’m buying, so there is no need for me to travel to a store and handle it myself.  If I don’t know what I want/need, there’s this marvelous thing called “The Internet” where I can watch video reviews, read experiences, and make a buying decision before even touching it. If I don’t like it? I can return it for free, and the UPS/USPS/Ontrack person picks it up right from my house. Target is great for the few things that I can’t get on Amazon, and the biannual Walmart visit takes care of the rest. For the odd hardware item like a random screw, an herb plant, or household good, I head to Davis Ace because I know they’ll have it.

    When I “shop” in Davis, besides the aforementioned stores, I “shop” at restaurants. Particularly, I know if I head downtown I will find whatever cuisine I want at whatever price point. In almost 8 years, I can firmly say I have never shopped at a Downtown Davis store that didn’t serve food with the exception of one cigar, once, at Newsbeat to celebrate my graduation. There simply has been no reason to when there are far more convenient sources. The idea of supporting a local business simply because it’s local just doesn’t matter to me: I want the fastest, cheapest, most convenient way to get what I need, and ordering online is that – environmental consequences or local economy be damned. I’m aware of my environmental impact; I bike to the farmers market on Saturday and purchase my produce in my reusable bags. I try to at least abide by Meatless Monday. Fuel economy was important in shopping for my recent new vehicle.

    Yes, there are our “grey seas” of asphalt at our big box stores that I see referenced time and again here in the comments on the periphery of town. Let them stay there. It’s both tiring and a misrepresentation to think that those will soon flood the Core. But the times when I head downtown are the same times everyone else does too: most people go to Downtown for leisure or food these days, not to shop. And when you look at the news businesses that are moving in, it’s these. Not small artisanal stores or professional offices or single story homes. Restaurants. There is an undeniable generational shift occurring here in Davis. Whether you support a Downtown that is all restaurants/leisure, or a mix of residential and commercial, there is an indisputable need for additional parking. Again, as a West Davis resident, I don’t want to bike downtown, eat a large meal, have a few drinks, then bike the 25 minutes home. It’s way more comfortable and convenient to drive, and usually, others are coming with me. You may have your own personal anecdote (as I have mine) of finding parking in 2 minutes. But it’s not uncommon to have to circle for 20 minutes to find one spot at those peak times. And you’re telling me that’s environmentally conscious? We have our “gray seas” but we also have so many other options available. Why not create more parking structures like at the cinema? What’s preventing us from building below-ground parking structures? I would love to live downtown and have fun downtown. Why can’t we create residential above these structures? Oh right, because a 2-story building obstructs the skyline!

    I have several friends within my same demographic that still live here in Davis, some of which I live with (because god forbid let’s not turn this article into another “rent crisis” tirade…). This experience is not unique. I can’t speak for everyone, but most of the people I associate with live similar lifestyles. I’m sorry for writing more than was probably needed, but I think it’s too common for Vanguard readers to get so sidelined in their own generational positions that they think their community needs to be suited for only them; there are a whole host of other people that want Davis to represent their needs, their wants, and ultimately, their community ideals, too, and should have a seat at that table, even if it means I have to park four blocks away and walk to the meeting.

    1. Alan Miller

      keeping an eye on the Vanguard comments all day is both thoroughly exhausting…and sadly I have more productive things to do.

      Actually, having more productive things to do is a sign of mental health . . . says the guy with nothing better to do than post this comment.

  9. Alan Miller

    Whether you support a Downtown that is all restaurants/leisure, or a mix of residential and commercial, there is an indisputable need for additional parking.

    The Greedeveloper / Starry-Eyed Greenie Industrial Complex would beg to differ.

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