by Michael Bisch
““Parking craters”: The latest terminology used by some to abdicate responsibilities associated with development.” – Ron (anonymous Vanguard poster)
The negative impact of curb-cuts, driveways and inefficient private, onsite parking lots, i.e. “parking craters, on the pedestrian experience, urban retail shopping, social interaction, safety and downtown vibrancy has been well understood for decades…even in Davis. That is why our policy documents such as the Core Area Specific Plan, Design Guidelines and zoning ordinances have discouraged, and in some areas of downtown prohibited, new development of “parking craters” since the 1990s. The Core Area Specific Plan update currently underway should make for a very interesting exercise given the derision these well-understood urban planning principles were met with by some Vanguard posters yesterday, such as:
“A certain starry-eyed segment of utopian greenies become the worker bees for a certain segment of greedevelopers that wish to push through buildings with inadequate parking.”
As planning commissioner Rutherford recently stated, “the writing is on the wall”. These “starry-eyed greenie” urban planning principles will be advanced, not reversed in the Core Area Specific Plan update. I’m taking bets right now that parking minimums, a dinosaur of the past, will be replaced by parking maximums (which de facto brings parking in-lieu fees down to $0.00). We are not paying urban planning consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars to revert back to ’50, ‘60s and ‘70s-style urban planning.
To help Vanguard readers visually understand the difference between retro-projects (parking crater projects) and “starry-eyed greenie” projects, I offer these contrasting photos:
Caption: Uncle Vito’s Building (parking crater project)
Caption: Mishka’s (starry-eyed greenie)
Caption: Bank of America Building (parking crater project)
Caption: Chen Building (starry-eyed greenie)
Caption: Pet Supply Building (parking crater project)
Caption: Bistro 33 Building (starry-eyed greenie)
Caption: First Northern Bank Building (parking crater project)
Caption: Brinley Building (starry-eyed greenie)
Caption: AT&T Building (parking crater project)
Caption: Varsity Theater (starry-eyed greenie)
I leave it to the readers to weigh in on their preference. Should we encourage parking craters projects or starry-eyed greenie projects?
-Michael Bisch is the owner of Davis Commercial Properties, a provider of commercial property management, leasing and brokerage services. He has served as a volunteer in a number of downtown-related community service organizations such as Davis Arts Alliance, JumpStart Davis, Pathways to Employment, Radiate Art and Davis Downtown.