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1

Well, duh.

A large percentage of The Times ad revenue comes from retailers that depend on an automobile-centric business climate to drive customers to their locations.

If the "urban village" concept were to gain serious traction (which one hopes eventually, it might), then downtown and mall-based retailers have a reason to fear reduced revenues, as more people either find what they need at their "local" stores and boutiques, while at the same time they're pressured to get rid of their cars altogether, making what was once a 15 minute drive to Nordy's Rack, The Bon, or WorstLake Mall less enticing.

Posted by COMTE | December 8, 2006 12:56 PM
2

Actually, I think they did mean to plant more grass.

Like what was growing next to certain police stations.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 8, 2006 1:20 PM
3

Well, they also could have talked to any number of small business owners who see the causal negative effect that removing parking has on their bottom line, too. Or any of the longtime residents of in-city neighborhoods who will be inconvenienced and/or get a lot more parking tickets as a result of this idiotic proposal.

Light rail to Husky Stadium won't be up and running until 2016 - that's a lot of parking tickets for residents and lost revenue for businesses in the meantime.

On the other hand, the Council will also probably give that street vacation to the Goodwill project in the ID - which will create an auto-oriented big box retail traffic generator that will make Northgate North look like a pedestrian wet dream.

Just how many sides of their mouths can these people talk out of?

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 1:26 PM
4

Oh, and busineses aren't the ones who benefit - developers are.

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 1:27 PM
5

Mr. X: Oh, and busineses aren't the ones who benefit - developers are.

Y'know, I'm sure Mr. X is hoping that right beneath the molesters and terrorists and infidels, a special wing of hell has been reserved for developers.

Anyway, I suppose this is proof that not-so-great minds think alike, but my immediate reaction upon starting into this Times article was very much the same as Erica's.

I wonder whether this intro was just bias in the traditional sense -- i.e. unintentional -- or whether it was deliberate. I've got to believe the latter. Reporters and editors at the Times have got to be sensitive to the whole density-vs.-sprawl issue, regardless of where their individual beliefs lie. I mean, for them not to be aware of the potential to appear biased on this -- it's a bit like a Washington, D.C. reporter pleading ignorance as to this whole acrimony thing between the Republicans and Democrats.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 1:45 PM
6

Whatever - but when they tear down the rest of the Pike/Pine corridor because eliminating parking requirements made it immensely more profitable to do so, don't come crying to all of us evil, evil NIMBY types who predicted just that outcome.

Believe it or not, destination retail requires a certain amount of parking, or shoppers will choose malls that provide it. Welcome to Econ 101, folks.

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 1:51 PM
7

I think I do have to apologize for what I just wrote about Mr. X: "Y'know, I'm sure Mr. X is hoping that right beneath the molesters and terrorists and infidels, a special wing of hell has been reserved for developers."

I think I was misrepresenting Mr. X's position. In his theology, a suite in heaven replete with 72 virgins will be reserved for all developers whose development has contributed to sprawl, global warming, and dependence on unstable countries that export terrorism.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 1:51 PM
8

Cressona,

To paraphrase Dean Wormer from Animal House, condescending, dogmatic, and naive is no way to go through life.

And go fuck yourself with the islamic terrorist bullshit. Really.

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 1:58 PM
9

I'm pro-environment, but also pro-reality. Making driving/parking inconveinent and hellish will result in people going to places where they can park. I am all for biking and public transportation, but carrying a load of groceries or Christmas gifts on your ten speed sucks.

Once again, Erica Barnett makes me hate calling myself a liberal.

Posted by Dianna | December 8, 2006 2:07 PM
10

Yeah, it does suck to haul groceries on a 10-speed, which is why you'll stop driving your bike to the grocery store, and instead go to your corner store and ask--hey, would you guys mind carrying meat and cheese and shit I don't want to haul over to Trader Joe's for?

And they will say, ok, and then maybe a video store will move in next to your corner store and a dry cleaners and lo and behold you are living in a real urban environment and not just the weird car-based neighborhoods we've had here for the past 50 years. (back in pre-war times there were corner stores with meat and cheese and eggs all over the place--I know--my great-grandfather owned one of them, on 5th and Roy)

Look just a little further than the potential inconvenience of next week, you'd see that this proposal will make your life MORE livable, not less.

Posted by Seth | December 8, 2006 2:16 PM
11

Oh, and Erica Barnett makes me proud to be an AMERICAN.

Posted by Seth | December 8, 2006 2:18 PM
12

I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and venture a guess that Seth has never owned and/or run a business.

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 2:26 PM
13

Until light rail is up and running, I don't think it makes sense to reduce or eliminate parking in the absence of viable mass transit alternatives for people who have no choice but to drive.

Posted by neo-realist | December 8, 2006 2:30 PM
14

@10 - that has to be the most insane "economic development" theory i have ever heard, lol.

while we're throwing around GWOT analogies, ten sounds like the cars = saddam analogy where by getting rid of cars local economies will suddenly flourish.

You can't force people to change by making their life harder. You make people want to change by giving them a better alternative. The point has already been made that the gap between immediate loss of parking and transportation like light rail isn't closed over night.

It's easy to say "cars are the problem" and promptly declare a jihad on them. But by making life more difficult for people to come downtown (i'm using the term loosely to refer to all the affected neighborhoods), they're not going to magically change their ways. They're just going to stop coming.

There are so many cities in this country that have rotting downtown cores, and everyone spends all their time trying to figure out how to draw people back in. Here? People seem to want to do all they can to *discourage* people from coming in, driving them OUT.

Posted by charles | December 8, 2006 2:34 PM
15

I think it's just sour grapes that noone wants the RTID and everyone wants more transit in Seattle.

Want foot traffic? Build next to a bus stop or light rail or streetcar station.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 8, 2006 2:34 PM
16

This is an elimination of requirements, not of parking. Under the new rules, businesses (or developers) can decide for themselves how much parking they'll need rather than have the government decide.

If I'm building a grocery store, I know that most of my customers won't come via 10-speed. I'd be insane to open without parking. Nothing under this proposal would stop me from building enough parking spaces for my store.

If I'm building a neighborhood coffee shop, I don't need a lot of parking -- most of my customers will walk. And now I won't have to build parking that won't get used, so I can build more cheaply and run more effeciently.

Let the businesses decide how much parking they need -- they'll get the cost/benefit better than the city will.

Posted by Steve | December 8, 2006 2:46 PM
17

actually steve, you make a really good point. could this mean that there might end up being *more* parking as a result, due to businesses maximizing space to increase parking whereas before the city would cap them? or am I reading that the wrong way?

Posted by charles | December 8, 2006 2:49 PM
18

Jesus Christ, Barnett, did you even read the whole article or just the first three paragraphs? You completely mischaracterize what the rest of the article states.

Posted by DOUG. | December 8, 2006 3:08 PM
19

Charles @17: I don't believe the city ever had parking caps, so I don't think this would result in more parking.

I could be wrong, though.

Posted by Steve | December 8, 2006 3:27 PM
20

Some feedback here...

Steve: This is an elimination of requirements, not of parking. Under the new rules, businesses (or developers) can decide for themselves how much parking they'll need rather than have the government decide.

Great point, Steve. At least within the Seattle city limits, the free marketplace seems to be far more the friend of density than the enemy. Wouldn't you know that most of the folks who are pleading to preserve this particular piece of government regulation and "social engineering" are the first ones to be bitching about it everywhere else?

Will in Seattle: Want foot traffic? Build next to a bus stop or light rail or streetcar station.

Now this is where you get the real virtuous cycle of marketplace incentives. Thanks, Will!

Doug: Jesus Christ, Barnett, did you even read the whole article or just the first three paragraphs? You completely mischaracterize what the rest of the article states.

Um, Doug. The rest of the article was just straight-ahead reporting. I mean, it was a news piece, albeit a newspiece skewed with opinion, not an opinion piece. Also, print journalists are always supposed to put their one or two most important sentences at the beginning of a story, not the end.

Dianna: Once again, Erica Barnett makes me hate calling myself a liberal.

Dianna, if you're the kind of liberal I think you are, then I gotta to say that conservatives have nothing on you on the hypocrisy scale. I'm talking about the kind of liberal who:

  • Is all outraged about the Iraq War, but doesn't see the connection between the war and their own lifestyle choices. As if we would be spending nearly 3,000 lives and more than $300 billion so far if there was no oil in that dreadful place!
  • Is all outraged at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but doesn't see the connection between having two corporate fascism-friendly oilmen in the White House and their own lifestyle choices.
  • Considers going to an Al Gore movie and buying a Prius and a non-motorized lawnmower their idea of fighting global warming.

Neo-realist: Until light rail is up and running, I don't think it makes sense to reduce or eliminate parking in the absence of viable mass transit alternatives for people who have no choice but to drive.

It's funny. Most of the folks who say, "Hey, I'm all for this density stuff if only we had some real mass transit," are the same folks who fight mass transit tooth-and-nail.

And last but not least Mr. X: Cressona,... And go fuck yourself with the islamic terrorist bullshit. Really.

Sorry, Mr. X, I guess I need to start putting things in perspective. I mean, the threat of Islamic terrorism, whether it be with airliners or nukes, really should be weighed against the damage done to Mr. X's feelings.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 3:43 PM
21

i remember at my last employer there was talk amongst the employees that when new buildings were constructed on campus with below-ground parking garages included, some city zoning issues prevented them from including more spaces. the implication being that they had the budget and space for more parking but due to city restrictions they couldn't. people were also under the impression that in addition to capping the number of spaces a new building could have (spaces calculated to some ratio of employees to cars that put cars at less than 1:1) the city also prohibited the employer from charging any less than $x per month for use of the limited spaces. IE you couldn't park in the limited spaces for less than like sixty bucks a month or whatever it came out to. the whole gist was that the city was trying to make driving more difficult in order to reduce traffic volumes during the morning and evening commutes. You could get a deal on a carpool pass that made it approx half the single occupancy rate if you had two people in a car, more if you triple or quadrupled up.

it was pretty commonly accepted among all the people I worked with at the time--that the spaces and the rate at which you had to pay for those spaces were controlled by city zoning and/or statutes. is this in fact untrue?

Posted by charles | December 8, 2006 3:48 PM
22

Seth wrote:

"Yeah, it does suck to haul groceries on a 10-speed, which is why you'll stop driving your bike to the grocery store, and instead go to your corner store and ask--hey, would you guys mind carrying meat and cheese and shit I don't want to haul over to Trader Joe's for?"

Don't forget to ask him to write a note to your employer recommending a raise so you can afford to buy groceries at a small shop.

Posted by rodrigo | December 8, 2006 4:10 PM
23

: I think I oughtta qualify one statement I made. It's where I condemned the so-called liberal who "Considers going to an Al Gore movie and buying a Prius and a non-motorized lawnmower their idea of fighting global warming."

Essentially, I'm describing my parents here. But I mean, they live out in the boondocks, and there's no way they're uprooting themselves to move to some urban village. (Well, Mom might if she outlives Pop and the two donkeys, but that's another story.)

Anyway, I can't really condemn the lifestyles of people who aren't in a position to entirely change their lifestyles. And buying a Prius is sure a lot better than buying a Hummer. But even if you are locked into living a "carbon consuming" lifestyle, that doesn't mean you can't politically support incentives for other people to live a more "carbon neutral" lifestyle. As Erica has noted so aptly, global warming and energy dependence are ultimately political issues, not individual consumer choices.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 4:11 PM
24

Cities with rotting downtown cores have plenty of parking. Cities with virtually no parking have thriving downtowns. What is the correlation? Public transit? Sending traffic THROUGH rather than around the city? Who knows... probably one of you, but I think it's complex.

Regardless, you can never build enough parking spots, and you can always have too many cars.

Anyhow, they are talking about the reduction of the minimum requirements, not pulling a bunch of parking spots all over the city. For every person living in housing that didn't provide for them a place to put their car, it may be a loss of a spot on the street (keep in ming it's an increase in $per.sq.ft. in new construction for each spot required = more expensive housing), but it's also assumed that the vehicle goes with them to work and isn't displacing anyone during business hours. If it is, said local business will have potentially as many new neighbors as it does displaced customers... of course it gets fuzzy with turnover times and loyalty and blah blah blah buck fuck man, Seattle and its cars. What the hell?

Posted by Dougsf | December 8, 2006 4:19 PM
25

Rodrigo: Don't forget to ask him to write a note to your employer recommending a raise so you can afford to buy groceries at a small shop.

While we're at it, anyone who works way out in the exurbs should ask their employer for a raise to cover the $9K or $10K per year that automobile ownership (with heavy usage) ends up costing. And goodness knows, your employer is already picking up one heck of an insurance tab to help cover the hundreds of billions of dollars that motor vehicle accidents end up costing every year in the United States. And oh, what about that $300 billion just so far that this nation has spent in Iraq? That comes out to $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. And just figure what it's going to be when the war has finally wound down and we're still paying the interest on it.

But y'know, I'm probably a schmuck for even pointing out these facts.

Anyway, though, to respond to Rodrigo's point more directly. Now that you're seeing density reach critical mass, you're seeing the QFC's and Safeways of the world move in. But hey, if you really don't want that kind of choice -- if you would prefer to have only the small shops -- then I would recommend moving to a run-down, crime-ridden neighborhood.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 4:20 PM
26

Cressona,

Developers are not moral or immoral - they are, like sharks and other predator species, simply amoral. I wouldn't dream of linking them with terrorists, however.

You, on the other hand, are a smug self-righteous prick who is a living example of the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Posted by Mr. X | December 8, 2006 4:24 PM
27

"Neo-realist: Until light rail is up and running, I don't think it makes sense to reduce or eliminate parking in the absence of viable mass transit alternatives for people who have no choice but to drive.

Cressona: It's funny. Most of the folks who say, "Hey, I'm all for this density stuff if only we had some real mass transit," are the same folks who fight mass transit tooth-and-nail."

I'm a pro-density guy who voted for the monorail everytime it's been put up for a vote. You must have mistaken me for a local environmentalist hypocrite who drives a hummer.

Posted by neo-realist | December 8, 2006 4:37 PM
28

Mr. X: Cressona,
Developers are not moral or immoral - they are, like sharks and other predator species, simply amoral. I wouldn't dream of linking them with terrorists, however.

Actually, I would agree that developers are amoral, like sharks. As for linking our energy choices to Islamic terrorism, well, I would refer you to Tom Friedman of The New York Times. He does a lot better job at that argument than I do. Or hey, how about Al Gore and any number of fairly conservative foreign-policy types -- even Reagan administration guys?

Still, you should make sure your friend Charles is on the same page. I think he just used the "J" word, as in "jihad," in reference to us un-American environmentalist radicals.

Posted by cressona | December 8, 2006 4:39 PM
29

Cressona:

All of us who consider ourselves "environmentalists" bemoan the fact that so many people don't seem to give a shit. You'll have a hell of a hard time bringing them over to (our?) side by arguing that they should give up their cars when provided no decent alternative. I used to live in a place like that: Cambridge, MA...there is a train running through town (so if you live near that you're all set) and a few buslines. But certain areas have nothing within a reasonable walking distance. There are very few parking spots and getting around there is ridiculous. So, when I go back to Boston, I ususally end up not going to some of my favourite restaurants because I'm not walking miles in the freezing cold.
I don't think it's hypocritical to want reasonable solutions that enough people will follow to make a difference.
And, just for the record, I would love it if what you suggest will happen actually would. I used to live in New York.

Posted by Dianna | December 8, 2006 5:02 PM
30

Why does hauling groceries on a bicycle suck? Get a rack and a couple panniers, you can do a week's shopping for one person no problem. And none of the stress of trying to park in those awful Trader Joe's parking lots.

Posted by cite | December 8, 2006 5:38 PM
31

jihad! jihad jihad jihad! /irony

Posted by Charles | December 8, 2006 5:40 PM
32

Carrying groceries for two on a bike up to the mountains (where I used to live, when I only had a bike)does in fact suck.

Posted by Dianna | December 8, 2006 5:50 PM
33

I should probably disclose that I live in Hawaii.

Posted by Dianna | December 8, 2006 5:56 PM
34

I would point out that one of the people who opposes this and is quoted in the article states that he wants this balanced out with more transit. As for all the people whining about how difficult life in the city is without a car, I don't know what you're talking about. I went nine years without a car, and all it took was a little bit more planning.

Posted by Gitai | December 8, 2006 7:54 PM
35


What made you finally get a car, Gitai?

I didn't have a car for years, but when I bought my home, I couldn't afford to live near where I worked and now a car is more of a necessity.

Not having a car in Seattle is fine if you A) don't really have any friends or interests outside your immediate 9-block radius. (i.e. if you live on Capitol Hill and have a friend in Wedgewood, they might as well have moved to Moses Lake. You'll see them twice a year, unless they have a car.) B) you are single and don't need to buy groceries for anyone but yourself and maybe one other person occasionally and C) you have a job that keeps you in one place every day where you don't have meetings or site visits or deliveries or anything like that.

Posted by rich | December 9, 2006 1:24 AM
36

#16 was the first comment in this thread to some common sense. These idiot neocons think that the city is eliminating parking, which they aren't. They are reducing regulations which, if they really were conservatives, which I know they're not, these neocons should be applauding.

Also, for those of you who think you can't get around the city without a car and think buses are too inconvenient, try getting a bike. It is easy to get around the city on a bike. I have a friend in Renton who was having a birthday party, so I rode down there from the U-District and back. It isn't that hard.

Posted by Andrew Hitchcock | December 10, 2006 2:01 PM

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