A City of Parking Lots...

...Is a Face With No Teeth
posted Jan 13, 2009
THE TACOMIC - A City of Parking Lots... ()
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<< >>
1/8 - Proposal To Remove Parking Requirements in the IFSA, Exit133

3/14/2007 - A Letter About Parking - By Andre Stone, Exit133

12/18/2008 - KunstlerCast #43: Missing Teeth in the Urban Fabric, The KunstlerCast

Flickr Tacoma Parking Lots group

by izenmania on 1/13/2009 @ 10:04am

by Erik on 1/13/2009 @ 11:09am
Great work!

Did this photo give you inspiration?

by Nick on 1/13/2009 @ 12:41pm
NiN - the funny thing is, you could probably find a photograph of exactly what you illustrated - no exaggeration necessary. Sad but true...

by boearc on 1/13/2009 @ 12:47pm
Chew? Parking should the the metaphorical space between the teeth - and let the buildings and public spaces be the incisors, bicuspids, molars, and the occasional wisdoms (non-impacted that is).

However, RR Anderson has been producing non-accredited pseudo-urban design concepts which encroaches dangerously into the tectonic exploration of the juxtaposition of acuteness that is furthering the critical destabling of the core fabric gradient and my tolerance grows thin...

by NineInchNachos on 1/13/2009 @ 12:59pm
you just wait till my imagine tacoma parody sockpuppet/blog comes out. ;)

by AngelaJossy on 1/13/2009 @ 12:59pm
Personally I like free parking. I like it even better when its within a block of where I'm going. One thing I hate about going to Seattle is the inevitable parking hassle.

by NineInchNachos on 1/13/2009 @ 2:30pm
angela you sound like a gummer, we need more CHEWERS!

besides, you don't just 'go' to seattle you LIVE seattle!

by tacoma1 on 1/14/2009 @ 8:14am
Parking in Tacoma is crazy easy. But free parking isn't truly free. Someone has to have paid for the lot. Maybe the proprietor, maybe it was the taxpayers.

Just curious, since you hate the parking hassles in Seattle (as I do too) do you:

1) put up with it and pay the high price to park
2) don't go, it's just not worth it
3) take public transportation when you do go
4) ................................?

by chrism39 on 1/14/2009 @ 9:06am
If you can parallel park and are willing to walk a little parking in Seattle is not that bad. We used to live on Capital Hill ( many many years ago) and are apartment only had one space so you got used to it. One thing about Tacoma that drives me crazy is that people leave way to much space between cars, thus making less parking, pull up people, pull up.

by tacoma1 on 1/14/2009 @ 9:34am
We need more space in Tacoma to park our Dodge Darts.........cataracts, arthritis, and the power steering pump stopped working in the early '80's.........

BTW, that parking that you used to use on Capitol Hill is all now metered pay parking.

by NineInchNachos on 1/16/2009 @ 12:59pm
"And why might this change matter? The proposal cites two overarching reasons. The first is that eliminating parking minimums and maximums in this area would be an added draw for potential developers. Land availability, strict development restrictions, and limited parking options are common challenges for those looking to develop in urban areas, and this could provide an additional incentive to move to Tacoma.

The second reason is largely environmental. The proposal follows the City’s Green Ribbon Climate Action Task Force recommendation to focus planning and zoning decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Eliminating parking minimums will discourage single-occupancy vehicles and encourage transit and non-motorized transportation, which is good for business as well as the environment."

by AngelaJossy on 1/16/2009 @ 3:19pm
These are all valid points and I don't have the answers. I just know what I personally like about downtown Tacoma. If I'm late, if I'm in heels, if I'm alone, if its cold or rainy, if its an even or odd numbered day of the month, I'm going to gravitate towards parking right in front of where I'm going. Some places I just don't go because I have no idea how I would park near by.

Maybe when there is a public transport system that goes up hill and around every block I would consider leaving my car behind. Otherwise I need my personal bubble.

by Erik on 1/18/2009 @ 1:42am
Voelpel strikes a blow toward Tacoma building a more walkable city by filling in some friggin holes in downtown:

“It could have been so much better from an urban design standpoint – and less expensive to boot,” Boe recalled last week. “It is difficult when the critics hammer the parking garages along the streets – because I agree with them. And then I point to the code that required us to do it in order to make the building work.”

It won’t happen again. A light bulb finally has gone on inside City Hall.

Municipal Code Chapter 13 includes a complex table used to calculate how many parking stalls to incorporate in new or renovated downtown buildings with different ratios for residences, offices or storefronts.

Come April, however, the newly enlightened at City Hall hope to replace that complex table with one sentence: Downtown Tacoma has no minimum or maximum parking requirements.

“It’s very simple,” said Peter Huffman, manager of the city’s Planning Division. “Essentially, what were saying is that the market will decide” how much off-street parking each new or renovated building should build.

by fredo on 1/18/2009 @ 1:52am
So the parking requirements for downtown will be disposed of, but the parking requirements for the mixed use centers will remain. Does this make sense to anyone?

by tacoma1 on 1/18/2009 @ 3:26pm
Parking lots, filled with empty cars don't add much to the economy. Replacing a parking lot that costs $10,000 to $30,000 per stall, with a business that provides jobs and income is a wise choice for the health of our downtown economy. It is good thing that the city council is ending the parking requirement.

With less parking, fast efficient transit becomes more important, and actually an important partner in the success of downtown Tacoma.

If a business wants to open up in a mixed use center in the suburbs without an adequate parking lot, I think that they should be able to do it even though I wouldn’t recommend it.

by fredo on 1/18/2009 @ 3:57pm
tacoma1@Finally we are in agreement on an issue...sort of. Why would the enhanced downtown with more business density and less available parking be a good thing but not recommended in a mixed use (neighborhood) center?

by NineInchNachos on 1/18/2009 @ 5:37pm
cool Voelpel column. Thanks for posting the cartoon Mr. Urbanist!

by Erik on 1/19/2009 @ 12:24pm
So the parking requirements for downtown will be disposed of, but the parking requirements for the mixed use centers will remain. Does this make sense to anyone?

One has to startihg ridding the city of 1950 era parking reqirements somewhere.

Great places like Proctor, and much of Stadium were building without the parking requirement pre-1950. The newer mixed use centers are little more than non-descript strip malls.

Take a look atr 38th Avenue near Borders: Thousands of cars, almost no pedestrians, people drive to even adjacent stores, purely utilitarian. No one would want to take a picture of anything in the area. One story boxes on massive parking lots: a unwalkable suburban wasteland with zero character made exclusively for autos.

Kunstler has some great pod casts:

by tacoma1 on 1/19/2009 @ 2:35pm
We actually have agreed on other things too, I just haven't told you.

by NineInchNachos on 1/19/2009 @ 7:29pm
Dear kunstler fans,
If you're like me and you collect curmudgeons in bottles (at least their podcasts) then you will enjoy this economics/invest-in-gold radio show doom-sayers Max Keiser...

He's like Kunstler with fresher material!

by NineInchNachos on 1/19/2009 @ 7:35pm
Also the Tacoma Urbanist has purchased this cartoon... I'm sorry I haven't framed it yet Erik. Don't feel to bad; you aren't alone. I still haven't framed up Izenmania's purchase (that's cold)
Tacomic either (I blame this on the extra freelance work people have been dumping on me).

* * *

BREAKING: Vopel just friended me on face book! My life is spiraling upward in an uncontrolled fashion!

by Erik on 1/19/2009 @ 8:57pm
Also the Tacoma Urbanist has purchased this cartoon... I'm sorry I haven't framed it yet Erik.

Np. I had though Izenmania had beat me out. Now I feel better though. This cartoon is going to end up where it belongs.

by NineInchNachos on 1/19/2009 @ 9:50pm

hey have you thought about posting a parkinglot picture everyday? Like (Tacoma Parking Lots 365) Might be a fun lunch time activity

by Erik on 1/20/2009 @ 12:07am
hey have you thought about posting a parkinglot picture everyday? Like (Tacoma Parking Lots 365) Might be a fun lunch time activity

Yes, but it would be too depressing. Plus, there are too many surface level parking lots to cover in 365 days.

by NineInchNachos on 5/12/2010 @ 12:38pm
this is a god-damned outrage:

Tacoma to use $700,00 grant once intended to keep Russell Investments to build temporary parking lot downtown..

by NineInchNachos on 5/12/2010 @ 1:08pm
this is a TEMPORARY PARKING LOT comrades, meaning they're just going to rip it up later.

What job creation ideas can you think of to spend $ 700,000 free dollars on?

by Jesse on 5/12/2010 @ 9:06pm
Grading off UWT vacant lots and temporarily (until UWT needs the lots) turn them over to Tacoma Parks for parks or public garden space.

by NineInchNachos on 5/12/2010 @ 9:51pm
OK now that is a good idea sir.

by KevinFreitas on 5/13/2010 @ 7:28am
I second @Jesse! City of Tacoma -- since we haven't yet been able to collect on the billboard fines we're owed let's put this money toward something other than a temporary cement pad. Especially if you want to avoid being the target of RR's next Tacomic!

by fredo on 5/13/2010 @ 10:04am
Jesse's right. This lot could have been turned into a public garden at least temporarily and the $700K could have been returned to the state of Washington. This would have generated a lot of favorable publicity for our fine city. Instead we use the situation to engage once again in all that is wrong with urban development.

by Nick on 5/13/2010 @ 11:22am
Yes, let's either use this wisely or give it back. It's not very much money, but it is very visible money, meaning what the city does with it is going to make a very public statement.

by jenyum on 5/13/2010 @ 11:52am
How about take over the abandoned building project at 25th and Yakima????

Seriously, we have money? To spend? Why on god's green earth is the city allowing that project to lay fallow, blocking an entire lane of traffic on a major arterial, literally the most visible building in a 5 mile radius from anywhere off the hill, why why why?

Here's an economic development idea: don't leave that thing to crumble and draw squatters! Heck, give the money to UWT straight up if you have to, to get them to convert it to student housing.

I guess it's too late now, the council having voted and all. Seriously, that's the best idea anyone had?

by fredo on 5/13/2010 @ 12:06pm
jeny-I'd like to see that project completed too. There should have some sort of completion bond on that project, that's how the public is protected against half-finished construction work.

Stalled construction projects, unneccessary parking lots, raiding pension accounts to fund day-to-day operations, secret executive session votes, millions for new furniture, unfunded raises for city employees...when can we awaken from our civic nightmare?

Mayor Stickland we need your "leadership skills" now more than ever.

by NineInchNachos on 5/13/2010 @ 1:15pm

I read that the Gregoire people are all "You totally didn't need to use it all to build a parking lot... that's you guys"

This is the work of Eric Anderson.

by KevinFreitas on 5/13/2010 @ 1:48pm
"...temporary parking lots in downtown Tacoma are like temporary taxes –
they just never seem to go away."

Well said Peter. Jeez -- nice of them to slip this one under everyone's radar. Seems to me there's plenty of parking in and around downtown for DaVita and everyone. It's a shame to see funds used for such a thoughtless purpose.

by Jesse on 5/13/2010 @ 2:06pm
Better ideas for the $700k? Right here:

1. Grade off all the lots above UWT and plant grass. Have Tacoma Parks, with thier shiny new levy money keep in mowed. What a park and a view from there if only all the trash and bumps and tall grass were cleaned up.

2. Hire an event planner for a new Saturday Market on Broadway at the graffiti garage and downstairs parking lot. Get that up and going. Once things take hold, the money coming in for rented spots would pay for the planner. Fix the clock tower and buy necessary equiptment for this market. A Saturday Market can now be tackled because of the new food cart rules.

3. "Prime the pump" at the Winthrop. Help purchase the 25th and Yakima project and move Winthrop folk there. Use the $700k as a carrot on a stick for a developer willing to tackle this. It might be what makes the Winthrop Hotel construction project profitable and therefore do-able.

4. Take out and move the fountain at 13th and Broadway to restripe broadway to a two way street. Take out the grass patch at 9th and Broadway as well. It's an underutilized street because it's confusing to navigate. Can this be done for $700k? Hmmm... basically make Broadway a two way street again... but still narrow to keep traffic slow.

5. Fund a liason to work with the military to get military housing in DT Tacoma. Now there's going to be a train that goes right by the base into downtown it will be possible for GI's to live downtown if they don't own a car. Tap into that Federal spicket of endless dollars to increase density in DT Tacoma.

There's my top 5. I doubt Tacoma has any say in where the money is spent though?

by NineInchNachos on 5/13/2010 @ 2:49pm
Hey Jesse have you thought about applying for a city manager position?

by morgan on 5/13/2010 @ 4:55pm
To follow up on Jesse's #4 bullet: Broadway used to be a thriving and desirable place to do business:

by Jesse on 5/13/2010 @ 5:22pm
Indeed. Why should Pac Ave be the only major street in town?

Great pics BTW.

by Nick on 5/14/2010 @ 10:35am
Some more ideas:

- Supplement funding for expanding the LINK.
- Fill some of the gaping potholes around town.
- Repave all those streets (like S 12th) that got the oil/gravel treatment that is now washing off.
- Set up a municipal loan program for stalled construction projects.
- Start $700k in grants for local small businesses that hire 10+ employees in 2010.
- Find a way to use that $700k to help fund Pierce Transit within city limits.
- Spend $700k on a recruitment campaign to find employers to fill the vacant office space downtown.
- Start a $700k subsidy/tax writeoff for small businesses that locate within downtown.
- Run a $700k advertising/propaganda campaign to promote Tacoma regionally (help that dated regional image outsiders seem to have).
- What about using that $700k to shore up the Luzon so it doesn’t have to be torn do… oh wait…

by NineInchNachos on 5/14/2010 @ 11:09am
Eric Anderson's idea: parking lot freebie to DaVida a company that has already decided to stay in tacoma (after extortion attempt 1)

by ixia on 5/14/2010 @ 1:23pm
Eric Anderson is master of three things:
He is Tacoma's Par King

by Jesse on 5/14/2010 @ 5:23pm
Even more ideas:

-- $700k worth of LID team members to organize LID projects around town sot this money can become millions in projects.
-- Digging out planter strips around the city and planting trees and in-fill ground cover plants instead of the asphalt that is in most of them now.

by L.S.Erhardt on 5/14/2010 @ 5:52pm
Best idea of them all... contribute all $700,000 to the MWF.

....the My wallet fund. Seriously, give me $700K to spend and I'll be a one-man stimulus package.

by morgan on 5/16/2010 @ 12:23am
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"By November of 1935 Tacoma's merchants were demanding that something be done about "parking hogs." Even with diagonal parking there was little room on the streets for shoppers to park their cars. All the available space in front of the stores was being taken by business employees. As the streets like Commerce, in this photograph, became jammed with cars, some merchants started demanding parking meters to force cars off the streets. After years of fighting in city hall, 1,200 meters were installed during the summer of 1941."

by fredo on 5/16/2010 @ 7:23am
Morgan, great picture. You know, in a few years merchants will be complaining about how bad business is and will be demanding that the city remove the new pay stations just like before. Here's a relevant quote from mr. benjamin franklin:

"experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other"

by NineInchNachos on 2/21/2011 @ 9:36pm
what happened to our awesome 50K worth of Jay Ray parking lot site?

by cisserosmiley on 2/22/2011 @ 3:15am
RR you swapped com n org...real site:

by NineInchNachos on 2/21/2012 @ 8:42am

by ixia on 2/21/2012 @ 8:48am

  just many stalls/spaces per car does Tacoma have?

by tacoma1 on 2/21/2012 @ 4:52pm
Excellent question ixia, but apparently no one knows. I say we open it up to WAG's, or wild ass guesses. My wag is a 1 -1 ratio of stalls/spaces per downtown job, and 1 to 10 ratio of stalls/spaces per automobile within the city.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I've done zero research to arrive at these numbers.

by L.S.Erhardt on 2/21/2012 @ 8:51pm

Too many spaces and not enough jobs/retail/habitation = blight
Not enough spaces for big demand = flight to the 'burbs.

by Maria on 2/22/2012 @ 12:27am
Another Catch-22

Downtown core not yet filled with residents = businesses relying on workers / students / tourists / visitors in cars to drive into the city for jobs, entertainment, shopping, etc. = need for parking = economic success

Healthy downtown with more CBD residents= workers / residents doing their commerce, shopping and commuting within dense core = parking spaces previously useful no longer necessary

The New York Times has a great article about this subject (it's one coming up in cities across the nation):

But what does this entail? For big cities like New York it is high time
to abandon outmoded zoning codes from the auto-boom days requiring
specific ratios of parking spaces per housing unit, or per square foot
of retail space. These rules about minimum parking spaces have driven up
the costs of apartments for developers and residents, damaged the
environment, diverted money that could have gone to mass transit and
created a government-mandated cityscape that’s largely unused. We keep
adding to the glut of parking lots. Crain’s recently reported on the
largely empty garages at new buildings like Avalon Fort Greene, a
42-story luxury tower near downtown Brooklyn, and 80 DeKalb Avenue, up
the block, both well occupied, both of which built hundreds of parking
spaces to woo tenants. Garages near Yankee Stadium, built over the
objections of Bronx neighbors appalled at losing parkland for yet more
parking lots, turn out never to be more than 60 percent full, even on
game days. The city has lost public space, the developers have lost a

...The Pensacola Parking Syndrome is a term of the trade used to describe a
city that tears down its old buildings to create parking spaces to
entice more people downtown, until people no longer want to go there
because it has become an empty lot.

by L.S.Erhardt on 2/22/2012 @ 1:06am
"The Pensacola Parking Syndrome"

Very astute. And thank god it's not called "The Tacoma Parking Syndrome".

I've mentioned it before, but I wish to again recommend a book called "Downtown: Its rise and fall, 1880-1950".
It's available at (coincidentally) the downtown library branch. The book reveals a LOT of historical motivations and reasons for the evolution of the Downtown core of American cities. It doesn't focus much on the west coast (Seattle gets 1 fleeting mention), but the mechanisms are consistent across the nation.

I really learned a lot, and now instead of seeing blighted empty lots, I see why there is an empty, blighted lot. It's eye-opening to say the least.

Some more info HERE

by Maria on 2/22/2012 @ 2:47pm
Thanks, that looks interesting--I added it to my Amazon Wishlist.