Parking and downtown revitalization

Via The Olympian:

“Meter idea might cost downtown free parking

Study: 100 vehicles found to switch spots throughout the day



OLYMPIA – Free 90-minute downtown parking could be replaced with meters under an idea that soon will come before city officials.

The idea was first proposed years ago by members of the downtown association and the city’s parking advisory committee, made up of residents, has been studying the idea more recently.Committee members say the move would increase turnover so more shoppers can find parking spaces. And it would drive store employees into leased parking instead of spending the day moving their cars from one free space to another, when those slots are meant for customers.


Wow. That was quick. I was pretty sure that the parking garage would end up costing the city enough to make it necessary to drop free parking, but this was pretty fast that changes are being made.

When the city is obligated to pay for the garage through parking fees and fines, money which is used for other purposes now, they will be more inclined to reduce free parking, and may end up being forced to be more and more aggressive with fines.

How does getting rid of free parking help make downtown more friendly? It doesn’t. It’s not about making it more friendly for everyone.

Downtown shouldn’t become just another mall, should it? Well, it won’t because the parking won’t be free anymore, but it’ll be close … however, watch for parking validation schemes to be introduced.

I’ve long thought one component to revitalizing downtown Olympia is the same for just about every town that felt the impact of I-5. The old 99 corridor should become the showcase for a modern and forward-looking mass transit re-design.

Intel, the maker of computer chips, has two design teams. One team works on the next chip while the other works on the chip after the next chip.

There should be two transit design plans. One for a complete and forward-looking re-design of the old 99 corridor, which will revitalize all the old main streets that practically died when I-5 was built, routing around them. The second design team should be working on what a complete I-5 redesign would look like when the 99 project is being implemented.

These two design groups would then leapfrog mass transit in the north-south corridor into the future.

It’s probably just a wild vision, but don’t we have so few of those wild visions anymore? Where are the multi-generational projects that offer hope for the future anyway? Who’s asking what their town or city will look like in 50 or 100 years, and acting on that now?