Looking Forward by Ted Bellamy

Parking — A Modest Proposal (with apologies to Jonathan Swift this time)

Last week we established that there’s no such thing as free parking anymore, the way I remember it from the 1960’s. If you’re not paying for your parking, someone else is paying for it.

Another big change I’ve noticed is the percentage of our real estate that’s devoted to automobiles. Streets are wider, retail and office complexes have big parking lots or parking structures. That’s a whole lot of space devoted to the automobile. Space that can’t be used for anything else, really – and it’s empty most of the day. We’ve built a huge automotive infrastructure that we mostly don’t use. Huge so that we are spared inconvenience a few hours a day at the price of massive waste the rest of the time. There’s got to be a better way.

I’m an optimist, writing about utopia, so how about this: Culver City has a downtown parking problem. Residents compete with business’ customers and employees for an increasingly short supply of parking. But many residents are away during the day, and at home at night. Our downtown theaters and restaurants are busy at night, when local business parking lots are mostly empty. There are thousands of parking places within walking or shuttle distance of downtown.

If we can try to treat parking as a shared resource, rather than a scarce commodity to be hoarded regardless of need, we can alleviate this problem, if not solve it.

That requires cooperation between parties who have long been at loggerheads, it requires that the city take a role in mediating, and it probably requires liability waivers and a bunch of other stuff an optimistic throwback columnist needn’t concern himself with.

Can we at least talk about this?

NEXT WEEK: How did “hearsay” get to be “evidence of fact?”

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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