Parking Downtown: Water, Water Everywhere, Nary a Drop to Drink

I served on Chapel Hill’s Downtown Parking Taskforce, which wrapped up its business two weeks ago and which will be presenting its findings formally on Feb. 26th [AGENDA].

I meant to comment more frequently on our work but circumstances and some cautionary notes from staff intervened. It’s an interesting issue – how much of the preliminary work of a committee you serve on do you want to expose?

I wouldn’t want to shut down the free expression of the wildest of ideas. And, though the process was open to the public, like so many of our citizen’s groups rarely covered by the media – hardly attended by those outside the relevant committee.

I certainly commented frequently (and vociferously) on my and others participation in the Horace Williams Citizens’ Committee. I went into the issues discussed within the Technology Board, but didn’t speak to the internal and external tensions that contributed to its dissolution.

Reporting on my next committee (if I’m ever appointed to one after my vocal opposition to Lot #5) will probably be dependent on a number of factors…of which I hope to get some feedback on from my readers…

The Parking Taskforce was pretty effective – and ranks up there with the HWCC for citizen participation.

The meetings usually stayed on point – had some humorous commentaries (including a prominent local comparing University Square to Cabrini Green) – and generated a slew of good ideas.

Here is the cover letter [DOC] and finalized [DOC] report that will be presented on Feb. 26th.

I’ll be adding my support and a little commentary that night – please send me any comments (campaign AT ) or add them to this post.

I appreciate that my central themes of cooperation/collaboration in terms of parking resource allocation made it into the final report.

Unfortunately, the section on using modeling and metrics to manage parking policy – a section I promoted – was excised. Maybe too business-like an approach – but I believe any implementation plan that doesn’t incorporate targets, a methodology to measure progress and actual timely measurements is flawed. We should have time to repair this omission as staff fleshes out the recommendations.

The guidelines I drew up on behalf of the committee were also not included, partially because they were redundant, partially because they didn’t fit into the report structure and partially because we ran out of time to discuss/elaborate/refine on them.

I present them here for completeness.

1. Parking is provided for the public good by the citizens of our community. The public, irrespective of economic, social or other status, will come first. Parking policy, to the greatest extent possible, shall not be discriminatory.

2. Public and private parking is an important and strategic common resource for our Downtown’s success. Parking policy will cultivate private-public management policies to successfully conserve and cultivate this common resource.

3. Fees collected from public parking will not be seen as a revenue generator for the general fund.

4. Fees from public parking are to be utilized for parking and other transit oriented infrastructure support and improvement.

5. While productive public parking policy furthers the social and environmental goals of our town, the primary focus of downtown parking is economic development.

6. Public parking policy will be driven by timely metrics. An “evergreen” process based on measured utilization will be used to adapt to changing conditions.

7. The public’s ability to understand novel parking strategies is not to be underestimated.

8. Parking strategies will be based on “best in class” flexible approaches. Parking requirements fluctuate by time of day and year, location and special activities. “One size, fits all” policy is not appropriate.

9. Failure to abide by commitments to utilize transit in lieu of providing required parking facilities has consequences. [update: this applies to businesses that made commitments to use transit in lieu of building lots]

Additional documents used during our discussions:

I have some additional resources I used that I’ll try to post sometime soon…

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