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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You can't walk away from the price you pay

I have not shopped on Portland's Northwest Trendy-Third Avenue in a while, have you? About twice a year, I head over there to pick up some Kiehl's shaving cream -- one of the most wonderful substances on the face of the earth -- but other than that and one Christmas shopping run annually, the hassle of parking the car in that neighborhood immediately cancels out any desire to go there.

Soon, we will have another psychological barrier installed -- parking meters. Always hungry to find money for the black hole known as streetcars, Mayor Creepy is determined that the no-armed bandits are going in in Northwest. And after that, on Northeast Broadway. And after that, on Hawthorne. And after that, in every shopping district in town. Sooner or later, he thinks, you'll get rid of your car and take two buses to buy a crockpot or a cigar.

Eventually, he'd like to install a turnstile on your front door.

See you at Freddy's, at the mall, or on whatever retail street City Hall hasn't leeched onto yet.

Comments (24)

The real story of the parking meters in Northwest is that they are necessary to make developers' plans for garages pay off. Nearby, there are at least three pay parking lots and one garage that go almost entirely unused. Why would anyone pay to park in a lot or garage when on-street parking is available at no cost? As the NW Examiner story explains, Dick Singer has generously agreed to delay construction on the Irving Street garage to give the city time to get the parking meters in. What a guy.

One hopes the stores and restaurants in the neighborhood will be able to offer parking validation, they way it's done downtown. Yes, you can go to the mall and park without paying, but all you get there is chain stores and fast food chains. In NW, there are still a few local stores and restaurants that may appreciate your business.

In NW, there are still a few local stores and restaurants that may appreciate your business.

Then they better sit Creepy down and tell him to knock off his shenanigans. Or they go the way of the Dodo.

Yes, you can go to the mall and park without paying, but all you get there is chain stores and fast food chains. In NW, there are still a few local stores and restaurants that may appreciate your business.

They can't appreciate what they don't get. There are alternatives besides the mall. Alberta, Hawthorne, Broadway -- as I say, whatever street the city hasn't leeched onto yet, I'll try. Downtown, the Pearl -- too much hassle, forget it.

I drive 23rd occasionally and lately I have noticed lots of street parking available even during the middle of the day. Back in the day...that was not the case. It will be interesting to see what happens during this coming holiday season.
And mayor creepy doesn't care about the small business community. After all he has never had a real job, ever! and his masters at the Arlington Club care only for their weasel projects that fatten their wallets.

Just go Downtown to see the future of Portland retail if Sam and the Planners get their way.

Lots of train tracks and no parking and no customers.

I have noticed lots of street parking available even during the middle of the day...

That's because there's a lot of commercial real estate available in this district. The real test will come when this leases out again, assuming we are headed for a recovery sometime soon.

"Linear" shopping districts are a pain for the adjacent areas' residents and visitors, when private off-street garages are not common (which is the case in NW and elsewhere close in, of course). Street meters will only make it worse, not better, as the desire for free parking overrides a somewhat longer hike to the commercial area. I don't know of any plan in place to mitigate this impact to the adjacent residential areas.

I don't know of any plan in place to mitigate this impact to the adjacent residential areas.

I think the real plan is to put meters on the adjacent residential streets as well. I don't know of any precedent for this in Portland, unless you count the Pearl (which I don't, since there aren't really any residential streets there).

Having lived in NW for a number of years (I just can't remember the number), I've never found parking here a problem; but then I don't mind walking a block or two.

...And wasn't there some hinky business with the salesman for those new meters? something to the effect that the city purchased all the "smart" meters (rim shot) from him when he worked for that company and now that he works for a new company suddenly we need his new brand of meters across the board?

I love the downtown area and used to shop there all the time. I now only go there when absolutely necessary due to the high on-street parking rates, parking spaces that are so small that I can barely get my compact car into them, and the constant, traffic-blocking construction.

I can't believe that the downtown business owners allowed this to happen, or that NW 23rd retailers are about to let the same thing happen in their area.

Pat, newsflash: if you actually buy stuff downtown, you don't have to pay to park.

If you (a) buy more than ~$15 worth of stuff, (b) from a participating merchant, (c) park in the right garage, and (d) remember to ask for validation.

As John points out, its the surrounding residential streets (and the residents) that get pummeled. People will do a lot to avoid paying for parking.

I really wish we could realize a few things in this town:

1) Most people/households own at least one car and use it many times per week

2) While our biking numbers may be high relative to other cities, they still represent a very small minority of transportation usage in Portland.

3) The changes that one medium size city like Portland make to cut greenhouse gases won't save the planet when there are thousands of other cities around the world that don't wage war on cars like we do, and never will.

4) People love the freedom and convenience of cars and they still will in 50 years, 100 years, 500 years.

5) Taken together, the obvious conclusion is that the solution to the greenhouse gas problem is to improve or even completely overhaul the technology of automobiles, but getting rid of them is a pipe dream.

6) Given the conclusion of #5 above, the prudent thing for responsible leaders to do when planning for the future of the community is to embrace and not discount the popularity of cars.

If the City and Metro plan for the next 50 years under the assumption that driving habits will significantly change, our driving facilities will become increasingly inadequate and we will become Seattle. Seattle is the perfect example that even in a nice green NWern city, people do not stop driving, even when traffic gets horrible. They continue to drive, but now they're sitting in stop and go traffic belching even more exhaust into the atmosphere.

Idealists have their place, and their strengths, but if you're talking about the practical needs of a city of half-a-million people, realists and pragmatists have to be in control. I don't see it in Portland. The kids are running the daycare.

Snards, cars are pretty irrelevant from a greenhouse gas perspective because there is approximately zero chance that we (humans) will leave any oil or natural gas in the ground. (No climate modeling assumes that we'll leave any of either unused. The make or break is whether we get off coal. If we don't, then we're onto the thrill ride where we roll the dice and take whatever comes up.)

Rather the question re: cars is whether using these amazingly powerful and versatile -- but quite finite -- substances to push overweight boxes of air and one (usually) or two overweight people around makes much sense.

You are very optimistic if you think there will be cars for anyone but the ultra-rich in 50 or 100 years, but it would be nice if you were right.

I have to agree with Snards. People will eventually switch to hybrid cars, electric cars, fuel-cell cars, fusion-powered cars, methane-powered cars, or whatever proves to be the environmental panacea. They will drive smaller cars, and/or drive only one car per household.

But they will still drive. Driving is too embedded in our national psyche, governance, and economy to completely disappear. I take Tri-Met to work every day, and even ride it for pleasure from time to time (my daughter loves to ride the "choo-choo"). But we have a car, and would never be able to do without it. For ours and many other families, it's a necessity. Not everyone can afford to live in "20-minute" neighborhoods.

"the environmental panacea"

The one thing we know about environmental panaceas (cure alls) is that none have ever been found or are likely to be found. Cars were the environmental cure for mountains of horse manure.

As wise people have noted, the chief cause of subsequent problems is prior solutions.

Snards, where were you 35 years ago, when I was arguing for the natural gas pipeline from Alaska. I betcha 3 copies of Sarah Palin's bestseller we'd be driving around in clean natural gas powered vehicles now if that pipeline were built. Enormous strides can be made though incremental benefits year after year over the span of a generation.

Lots of train tracks?


We need more.

Just like the remedy for WES. Expand it.

Oregon is insane.

George, I have to respectfully disagree with you on cars. I just don't see any way we're going from where we are to few cars in 100 years.

If we run out of oil, someone will invent a car to get around the problem, because that person will know it could make them a billionaire. Most likely, multiple people/companies would invent such cars.

Two important aspects of human nature:

We'll keep driving because we are fundamentally selfish, and;

Entreprenuers will continue to solve any problem if they think it can make them rich, and capitalists will bankroll them for the same reason.

Now, if we want to talk about taxing gas/ending oil subsidies in order to create more economic pressure for such innovation to happen sooner, I'm all ears.

But planning as if any more than maybe 8% to 10% will regularly ride bikes or walk in the future is hogwash. And even they will drive when they have to.

We seem to be having another one of those “people never go there because it’s too busy” moments. Fair enough. As for the empty shop fronts, have people been to Clackamas or Gresham or Hillsboro lately? Not only are they vile wastelands where humans are tenth-class citizens, they are also infested with for lease signs. Parking meters should be great news for merchants on 23rd as patrons may now actually be able to find a spot. They also ensure turnover which, as every survey shows, helps store owners. Not the best news for neighbors though, unless they introduce residents permits.

Anyone here read the High Price of Cheap Parking?………..thought not. It takes him 700+ pages but the author finally comes up with a $300+ billion figure for the annual cost of subsidizing parking. That “free” parking in the burbs is a bit deceptive. Add in the tens of trillions for roads, wars and extra healthcare and it’s clear that driving our cars is the most subsidized act we will ever do.

Well, it's not just the parking driving folks out of downtown. Who wants to wade over a bunch of tatooed perforated punks with pit bulls shaking them down for spare change to get inside a store?

Downtown is dead and it ain't coming back. Everything the planners do to "reviatlize" it just make it worse for common folk. Let the barbarians have it. The only people commuting down there pretty soon will be city and county employees.

Snards, I have to respectfully disagree with you on cars. I just don't see any way we're going from where we are to more than a few cars in 100 years.

When we run out of affordable oil, we'll be reminded again that confusing economic incentives with physical laws is a big mistake -- such as thinking that magic will happen just because it could make people rich.

Two important aspects of nature:

We'll keep driving because we are fundamentally selfish, until we can't, and then we won't, because we won't be able to.

Nature doesn't care about entrepreneurs or anyone else foolish enough to think that economics overrides natural laws.

A country that uses roughly a quarter of the world's oil while holding only 2% of the world's oil reserves is necessarily a country that has a huge balance of trade problem. If that country also sat idle while its "entrepreneurs" sent its manufacturing base overseas, then it has also reduced its ability to produce value-added finished goods to use to trade for that oil. And if that country also elevates financial engineering and reality TV to positions of preeminence and denigrates engineers and scientists, then there will be very little innovation to address the first two problems.

Well, that country is us, or U.S. if you prefer. The parking problem is going to solve itself before long - there will be plenty of spaces to park in most any commercial district.

Jack, you might try this item

I don't have enough estrogen for Trader Joe's.

View from your Y2K bunker?

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