One of the issues debated at last night’s 37th LD Dems meeting was a resolution supporting Mayor Mike McGinn’s decision to suspend the city’s ban on all-day parking lots near Link Light Rail stations. Only it wasn’t really debated, per se… more like passed unanimously without much discussion, let alone dissent
I was kinda surprised, as one of the purposes of the ban is to prevent the neighborhoods surrounding the stations from becoming destinations for park and riders. The purpose of light rail, after all, is more to get people out of their cars than it is to save folks a few bucks on downtown parking, and paving the surrounding properties over with parking lots does little to serve the local community.
But while I agree with the intentions of the ban, there’s something to be said for being flexible, and with many development projects on hold due to the bad economy, and local businesses struggling to make ends meet, a temporary lift of the ban only makes sense. As Martin Duke aptly explains at Seattle Transit Blog:
The reason to oppose park and rides is that they cost a lot of public money ($40k a space in some cases) for not a lot of riders, and because they take up valuable space that could be used for more vibrant development. In some cases, people who park might otherwise have walked, taken the bus, or biked to the station.
Here we have private lots that aren’t costing a dime of tax money, and are in fact generating parking tax revenue; an abundance of empty gravel pits around all Rainier Valley stations, so that there’s no shortage of TOD locations; and of course, a small parking fee to limit users to those who have really bad bus transfers, live too far to walk, and are strongly disinclined to bike. It’s a perfect situation.
In fact, anything that gets more people using light rail short term will be good for light rail long term. Just as long as we don’t turn the Rainier Valley into a permanent desert of park and ride lots.