Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

North Burns Park and Oxbridge seek residential parking districts

24. May 2005 • Murph
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Ann Arbor is Overrated gets credit as the first comment on the new applications for residential parking permits by the North Burns Park and Oxbridge neighborhood associations. The districts would have a 2-hour limit on street parking between 8 am and 6 pm except for vehicles with resident permits.

The Ann Arbor News says the neighborhood associations blame commuters and students for taking up parking:

While each district varies, the new parking district would generally allow parking from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. for two hours without a permit and violators could be ticketed. Those with a permit and those parking after 6 p.m. would face no restrictions.

Stu Wagner, a member of the University of Michigan Student Assembly, called the parking districts “deeply problematic.”

Wagner is concerned the council will approve the parking districts before the students return in the fall.

“This would be a change that drastically affects the way students operate and most of the students who would be affected by the change are not here,” Wagner said.

Long-term parking by students, who leave their cars unused for weeks at a time while walking, biking, or bussing around town, is mentioned as a particular problem.



  1. This is a good illustration of why my bullet-points for a car-optional Ann Arbor include items that span throughout Washtenaw County and beyond. Regardless of how well you can move around within Ann Arbor, you still need to get here (and get away from here).

    Commuting brings thousands into Ann Arbor for 8 hours at a time, and they have no option except to drive. School brings thousands in for months at a time, and, unless they’re the provincial types whose parents live close enough to pick them up for Thanksgiving / Christmas / etc (like me), driving to Ann Arbor is the way to get here. (You can’t even get to the airport without knowing somebody who owns a car – or paying exorbitant cab fare.)

    We have three options for addressing this. We can either eliminate the need for people to bring cars into Ann Arbor by making alternatives feasible, eliminate the need for people to bring cars into Ann Arbor by destroying the local economy and pushing the University out so that people no longer have a reason to come here, or accomodate the cars that people bring into town. The first option is best. The middle option is worst. The third option is the realist’s option – it’s at the very least what we need to do until we can move to the first option.

    Complaints about students not noticing that their cars have been towed for a week at a time are misguided – a symptom of a regional problem is being treated as a problem the size of My Front Yard, and the solution to the My Front Yard problem does nothing to address the regional problem.

    Some of the mechanics of the program are also suspect. The restricted hours are 8am-6pm – hours designed to prevent student storage parking and commuter parking. If the program were really designed to allow residents to find parking spots, the hours would be reversed – with parking beyond 2 hours restricted to residents from 4pm on, when neighborhood residents are coming home from work themselves and need to park their cars.

    I recently called driveways a private appropriation of part of the public realm – they create off-street parking that only a few people can use by destroying on-street parking that anybody may use. The residential permit parking program is this kind of private appropriation on a grand scale. By reserving (public) on-street parking for a small group of people, the program prevents the most efficient use of existing parking – parking that is used by different people at different parts of the day – and requires the creation of more parking in order to satisfy the system-level demand. Each residential parking district creates a benefit for a small area of Ann Arbor while creating a cost for the entire community – hardly a good public policy.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to stop distracting myself and go work on finishing up that incomplete from my “Transportation and Land Use Planning” course. (If I changed the topic of my paper to residential parking districts, I’d be done by now. . . )
       —Murph    May. 24 '05 - 03:47PM    #
  2. I live on a street with residents-only parking, and I think it’s worth noting that the rules (2 hour parking, 6-8 restricted time) are ones the city established, not ones that NIMBYish residents are demanding. Before the regulations on our street went into effect, the problem was that it was increasingly being filled not by cars of day commuters but by student junkers whose owners seemed to use the cars only to go home for the occasional weekend—otherwise the cars would sit in one place without moving for weeks at a time. What would make sense to me for resident-only parking would be rules that allowed for commuter parking but NOT long-term storage/short-term abandonment. Simply restricting overnight parking to residents only would work fine—no problem for commuting students or university workers, but parking available for residents and guests in the evenings.

    As for the ‘private appropriation of part of the public realm’ comment—that’s nuts. Residents are using some of their property (which, of course, they have to buy and pay property tax on) for vehicle storage. A space lost on the street translates into 2-4 or more spaces (counting garage and driveway) for the resident, which vehicles, of course, are not taking up space on the street.
       —mw    May. 24 '05 - 04:51PM    #
  3. But what’s your definition of “resident”? I mean, how do you know that the “student junkers” weren’t actually owned by people who lived in the neighborhood? Someone who leaves their car in a spot for a long time probably lives close to where it’s parked – and is making better use of alternative transportation than someone who commutes by car every day.
       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 24 '05 - 05:08PM    #
  4. I think the hours make sense as is, if you agree with a program like this. As I understand it, the point is to help out people who live in the neighborhood but don’t necessarily drive to 9-5 jobs or whatever. If your neighborhood is somewhere nonresidents want to park for whatever reason, they’re doing it during business hours. So, if you come home at noon, nowhere to park. After 6pm, it’s not really a problem.

    There was a parking system like this in parts of my old neighborhood in San Francisco (Glen Park), but that was an area where driveways weren’t necessarily standard, and many of the existing driveways could only fit one car. Some apartment buildings had limited covered parking on the ground level, but I think being charged $50-100 per month for that wasn’t uncommon. In that situation, street parking was the bulk of available parking, especially if you didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.

    What are the neighborhoods in question like? If the huge driveways I typically see around town are standard, I hardly see the point.
       —kelli    May. 24 '05 - 05:09PM    #
  5. “I mean, how do you know that the ‘student junkers’ weren’t actually owned by people who lived in the neighborhood?”

    Well, they definitely weren’t owned by anybody who lived on the street. As for living in ‘the neighborhood’—it depends on how you define the neighborhood. There aren’t any rental units on any of the adjoining streets, either. But the Hill dorms are less than a ten minute walk away—are all those students ‘in the neighborhood’?
       —mw    May. 24 '05 - 05:42PM    #
  6. Hm, it seems what is needed here is a place to store these cars in an area with more parking, that is easy to get to and from. (Perhaps a ‘non-commuter’ lot). As people have said, students/others do want or need to have the cars, but don’t drive them a lot. (Which is good, repeat after me, GOOD).

    What about the idea of having a limited number of resident-only street parking spots (not a specific spot, but a shot at a ‘blue’ parking spot)? For a fee, of course – hey, we’re in a budget crisis!
       —Lisa    May. 24 '05 - 05:47PM    #
  7. Lisa, reading this thread and reflecting on my own past experience as a student street-parking-squatter (I’d leave my van for a week at a time on the streets in the old fourth ward. :p ), I’ve always thought that there really should be a realistic car storage option for students. I probably used my van once or twice a week for grocery shopping (often for my whole house), other errands that couldn’t be accomplished downtown, to visit friends or family in the metro-Detroit area, or to go to some event/location/whatever somewhere in metro-Detroit (concerts and whatnot). I’d’ve happily parked it in a commuter lot on the edge of town and taken a bus (or even a cab!) for the few times I needed to use my car in a month, if I knew I could leave my car parked. In fact, I probably drove more than I would’ve because I had to move my car every few days to avoid getting towed.
       —Scott T.    May. 24 '05 - 06:16PM    #
  8. I do think that “living in the neighborhood” is a pretty arbitrary decision. Since the parking district is defined by “block faces”, it’s prefectly possible for the even side of a street to be in the district and the odd side not – in which case the person who lives across the street from you is as much a “non-resident” as a commuter from Grass Lake. This would be especially painful if it happened on a street like mine, which is narrow enough that it only has street parking on one side: what if my side of the street (with the parking) were in the district, and the other side were not? Too bad for them!

    The border problem exists all of the time, even if it’s not boiled down to that extreme case, though. If I live just inside a permit district, and can’t find a space, no problem – I can just drive another block and get a space there. If you live just outside the permit district, and can’t find a space, too bad!

    I also stand by my “appropriation of the public realm” comment. Are people required to buy curb cuts from the city? Since an on-street parking space benefits everybody within a block or three, but a curb cut benefits only the owner, shouldn’t the owner have to buy the parking spot they’re destroying from their neighbors? Yes, the curb cut is probably taking cars off the street and onto the driveway (as kelli notes, each curb cut around here can accomodate 4 or 5 cars), but it does so in a very prisoners’ dilemma sort of way. I guarantee my parking spot by barring everybody else from it, and they respond in kind.
       —Murph    May. 24 '05 - 07:17PM    #
  9. Lisa, I was thinking kind of in your direction – maybe make the end parking spots on every block into permit-only spots. (Why end spots? Because if the desirable end spots are permit-only while the other spots are public-use, then you encourage the permitholders to use the spots reserved for them, rather than having the permit-holders soak up the public spaces and then nobody else being able to park because the only spots left are permit-only).
       —Murph    May. 24 '05 - 07:20PM    #
  10. Oh, the irony.

    I have to start by echoing my post on AAIO: I thought that we have been told that we have too many parking spots? Where did that argument go? If you buy the arguments made by some here on Arbor Update, there should be many, many monthly parking spaces available to students and homeowners at a reasonable rate a few blocks to the west.

    And why hasn’t the AA News been smart enough to be able to tie in the greenway story with this discussion of a lack of parking spaces?

    My answer to both of these questions is that I believe that residents wish to merely make it difficult for students/staff/other users to park in their area, while making it so they have no problems at all. AAIO is right…they won’t come to the conclusion that a parking garage is needed if they can simply take care of their own needs with some bass-ackwards legislation. Maybe I’m just being cynical. I hope I’m wrong, but…..

    As to Murph’s suggestion that we change the hours that you cannot park….the cost for policing this would be exorbitant…..much in the same way that while it makes much more sense to handle road construction late at night in certain areas, the OT will kill you.

    ...and I am in total agreement with Murph about the curb cuts. The curb cuts takes a publicly shared space and gives sole use to a property owner. If he’s wrong, then we should be able to park in front of some poor guy’s driveway if we chose to….

    My solution to this dilemma would be to build a few city owned parking garages. UMich keeps growing in leaps and bounds….how many more staffing positions have been created in the past ten years?! How many new buildings have been put in? How many parking garages do you remember UMich building? We need to cash in on this trend. Generate money from a city owned lot, and encourage students/staff/homeowners/renters to put their cars in a monthly parking spot and keep them there. This will also help new commuters to work and play downtown.
       —todd    May. 25 '05 - 11:04AM    #
  11. Long-time listener, first time caller.

    I’ve been in contact with the public services office at the city. They have some data on file that I feel makes a good case for the argument that residential parking permit (RPP) areas are used by residents to clear outsiders (students and commuters) out even though the residents do not need the parking for themselves.
    In order to qualify for a RPP area, the petitioner must be an association of 16 or more block faces (see Murph’s definition above) with signatures of 60% of households in the requested area. Harvard Place and Ridgeway don’t qualify by size but were permitted an exception.
    Public service has data on file showing the number of residences and number of permits issued for each area:

    Harvard Place (2004-05)
    Addresses: 18
    60% of households required for program: 12
    Permits issued: 2

    Ridgeway (2004-05)
    Addresses: 23
    60% of households required for program: 13.8
    Permits issued: 4

    North Central (2004-05)
    Addresses: 159
    60% of households required for program: 95.4
    Permits issued: 77

    Old West Side (2003-04)
    Addresses: 305
    60% of households required for program: 183
    Permits issued: 130

    First I should mention that the number of addresses is old information and may not be accurate. I would give it a 15% margin of error.
    Secondly, the data is all that Public services provided. The analysis is all mine. So inaccuracies and misuse and conjecture are all mine as well.
    This suggests to me that lots of people sign a petition to implement a RPP program in their association and then never apply for a permit. Out of 304 people required to sign a petition only 213 paid for a permit, at best. It is possible that some of the 213 permits were for multiple vehicles owned by a single household. So, at best about 60% of the people who requested the program don’t use it.

    People park in these residential areas because it is free and because it is close enough to work or home to be convenient at the price. The RPP program removes this parking option which in turn increases the parking demand downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods. It further limits the amount of available parking in the city without providing a parking benefit to residents.

    In addition, it is an expensive service which appears to be heavily subsidized by tax payers. More on that in my next post…

    I think that Beverly at Public Services is getting a few calls on this stuff. She was really kind when I called. In an effort to save her sanity, I’d be happy to pass on everything she told me so that others don’t have to ask the same questions again.
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 25 '05 - 11:45AM    #
  12. Since an on-street parking space benefits everybody within a block or three, but a curb cut benefits only the owner, shouldn’t the owner have to buy the parking spot they’re destroying from their neighbors?

    But the owner, by having the curb cut (and associated driveway and garage), is implicityly agreeing to store his own vehicles on his property which vehicles would otherwise be on the street taking up considerably more space than the curb cut. And the owner is, in fact, paying for the services that the city provides (paved street in front of the house, water and sewer lines under it, and curb cut) via property taxes. A house with curb-cut, driveway and garage is worth more than one without—and that is reflected in the tax bill.
       —mw    May. 25 '05 - 12:22PM    #
  13. Puh-leaze. That 50 dollars a year difference in taxes is totally unpersuasive. And the property owners are implicitly agreeing to nothing except parking in both the driveway AND the street if they please.
       —Dale    May. 25 '05 - 01:01PM    #
  14. Scott, that’s really interesting. Did they give you that information over the phone or can you look it up somewhere?
       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 25 '05 - 01:02PM    #
  15. Does it bug anyone else that some people seem to think that the PUBLIC right-of-way is for their own personal property only? isn’t the street for public use? that’s what it’s there for, after all!

    My husband is one of those ‘annoying’ commuters who park in the western neighborhoods and walks the rest of the way to work. We cannot afford a monthly pass in the parking structures – that’s $105/month, or $1260 a year – even assuming that we could get through the waiting list to pay for one. His boss refuses to pay for a GoPass either. He is one of the many workers in the service industry on Main Street. Sometimes when the weather is nice, he walks to/from work, but as we all know that only works for maybe 3 months out of the year, and we live just far enough away that it’s a fairly long walk (3 miles each way).

    And so he parks on the street. I think the OWS system is very fair: it allows commuters/students to park on one side of the street one day, the other side the next. Whatever side the commuters can’t park on is used by residents with residential permits (it’s usually empty, but that’s another story).

    Until we have a better alternative for commuters, they will need to park SOMEWHERE. More structures isn’t the answer, but neither is outlawing parking on the street.
       —KGS    May. 25 '05 - 02:02PM    #
  16. “Does it bug anyone else that some people seem to think that the PUBLIC right-of-way is for their own personal property only? isn’t the street for public use? that’s what it’s there for, after all!”

    Nope, you’re not alone KGS. It’s called a sense of entitlement, and it’s supposed to apply to people who are my age….so there you go.

    I will say, though, that I disagree about the need for parking garages. I’m starting to realize that I am all alone on this issue. We’ve had UMich and the town grow quite a bit in the last decade. We have chosen to make living downtown very difficult, so now we have a ton of commuters. To say that we have had a zero net gain of cars and parking needs is pretty silly in my opinion.

    Every piece of anecdotal information about a need for more parking has been dismissed, so I really am at a loss as to how to rephrase my position that we need more parking in this town.

    Do I know that cars aren’t sustainable solution? Yes. But we chose to make Ann Arbor less sustainable quite a while ago, so acting surprised that commuters and residents need cars is a bit two-faced if you ask me.
       —todd    May. 25 '05 - 02:25PM    #
  17. AAIO, I got the info over the phone but have some documentation that I can pass on to you.

    Again, any lies, fibs or gross misrepresentations in the following should be attributed to the author alone. I’d be happy to provide the original document on request.

    D-18 in the May 16 packet for City Council is a resolution to approve fee adjustments for Public Services. It covers a lot of stuff, but at the very end gives costs associated with the residential parking permit (RPP) program. The start-up cost of a new area containing 16 block faces is listed as $12,424. Public Services requested that the association requesting the new RPP area pay $5,480 of this cost. Council removed this from the approved amendment.
    One should note that the cost of 16 block faces assumes that every block face requires signage and trimming, which is not always the case. Therefore this cost may be adjusted down. The signs are on a ten year depreciation schedule. For simplicity I’ll assume that no maintenance is required within that time period. $12,000 will cover the physical infrastructure of the program for ten years.
    Council did approve a change in the annual RPP fee from $25 up to $40. This fee will now cover about one third of the cost to issue the permit, which is $126. Council also approved the new fee for replacing the physical RPP (the sticker that goes on the car) to cover the full $26 cost.
    As an example of the economics of RPP programs we can look back to the data for the Old West Side in my previous post and see that 130 permits were issued. This year (until July 1), residents pay $25 per permit. So OWS kicked in $3,250 in 2005 so far. They may pay for a few replacement permits as well, but those are a wash anyway. It’s not completely clear to me where this money goes, but I’m guessing that it ends up in the general fund.
    The OWS has an RPP area of 42 block faces currently (they are adding a couple more soon). If a block face costs approximately $775/block face ($12,424/16 block faces) for ten years, then the maintenance cost per year of a block face is about $78. I don’t know if every block face in the OWS requires the full maintenance cost. There may be some blocks that don’t have parking on them. For an estimate I’ll say that 35 of the 42 block faces registered require $50 of attention per year (well below the $78 calculated above). So the maintenance cost for RPP in the Old West Side is $1750.
    Now we should add in the cost of $126/permit estimated by Public Services. 130 permits run up a bill of $16,380. Ouch!
    One thing we have not considered is the infamous visitor permit! Every household that participates in the RPP program (ie they buy a RPP) gets one visitor permit for free. Some households in the OWS have more than one vehicle registered in the program, but they still only get one visitor permit. In 2004 there were 104 visitor permits issued, suggesting that there were probably only 104 households that registered 130 vehicles in the program. That would reduce the participation rate figured in my previous post, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.
    Anyway, these passes also have some value. It is difficult to say what that value is exactly, but the whole idea of having visitor passes has been discontinued specifically because those who obtain them have begun to realize that value by selling them to commuters and students. This is not to say that everyone does this. However, I know of a couple cases personally and the city sites abuses of the system as a reason to discontinue visitor permits. Even if there was no abuse, it is easy to see the value of a permanent parking spot close to downtown. I’ll mark it at the bargain price of $25/year, the same under-valued price that OWS residents paid for their resident permit. So 104 of those are worth $2,600. This is not a cost to the city. There is no cost breakdown for this item since it is not a fee, but it is probably the minimal value of the pass to the residents.
    Finally there is the additional cost of enforcement. I have not been able to obtain this information from public services yet. I believe that they patrol the area twice each day. I’m going to leave the actual cost out for now, but I bet it is bigger than the sum of all other costs. I’ll include it here once I have the info.
    So, not counting the value of visitor permits or the cost of enforcing RPP policy, the OWS pays $3,250 a service that costs the city $18,130 to provide. My understanding is that this money comes from the general fund. By my calculations, in 2004 a little less than 85% of the Old West Side RPP program was subsidized by tax payers.
    Despite the pointed-ness of this post, I’m not yet taking a position on RPP programs. Yet. City parking systems cannot be judged on their success or profitability as a stand-alone venture. The entire system should be assessed as one entity. Before eliminating these restrictions we should consider their impact on other parking facilities. The parking decisions made in town also impact the surrounding neighborhoods and maybe the city has an obligation to protect those areas from a parking flood.
    Yet this analysis does support Todd’s comments. It is more difficult to complain about the subsidy of a parking structure that provides compact provision of parking downtown when you are receiving a hefty subsidy yourself for a program that actually reduces parking availability.

    I’ve got a bit more info to pass on, but I’m trying to keep posts reasonable in size, so more is still to come…
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 25 '05 - 02:53PM    #
  18. Scott: amazing. For clarification: are you saying that Council amended the start-up charge for a RPP from ~40% to 0% of associated costs? And only raised the per-permit price to 1/3 of cost? (I missed the meeting and no longer let Comcast into my home…) Like you, I suppose I’m hesitant to say “The resident parking program has no use in any circumstance,” but I’m happy to say, right now, that the program shouldn’t be nearly so subsidized as it is now.

    I’m sticking to my “appropriation of the public realm,” guns, and, if a neighborhood association is going to take something that I’ve paid for through taxes, should I be charged again for the privilege of giving it to them? I think not.
       —Murph.    May. 25 '05 - 03:19PM    #
  19. Murph said “I missed the meeting and no longer let Comcast into my home…”

    On a tangent, I wonder what CTN would say if I recorded the city meetings from cable, encoded them as mpegs and posted them to the web for viewing… If I could secure the “rights” in the public domain or similar, I could even post them to archive.org or similar free video hosting-type service. Hmmm…
       —Scott T.    May. 25 '05 - 05:18PM    #
  20. todd, i stand with you on parking structures: we need more of them.

    we need them downtown, where the city should build them, and we need them around campus, where umich should build them.

    in addition, we need to make it more expensive and more inconvenient for commuters and students to park on the street than to park in a satellite lot, of which there are many, and take a bus the rest of the way.

    i don’t want to rip on KGS, but an AATA pass is $37.50/mo. if you look at the total cost of owning a car, six miles a day costs that much or more.
       —peter honeyman    May. 25 '05 - 10:01PM    #
  21. KGS, The go pass is only $5.00 for the year to ride the AATA Bus anywhere you want to. The DDA pays the rest of the cost. It is only available to people that work in the downtown. I’m am very surprised to hear of a downtown business owner that wouldn’t get a go- pass for his workers. I’d very much like to know who it is because it would be worth a couple of phone calls to help bring this person up to date on what is good for the down town and his workers. If you would like to tell me in private let me know and I’ll send you my e-mail address on this blog. I promise that I won’t reveal who told me about this issue. I have a friend who is very good at talking to people like this without pissing them off and I know that they would help in a heart beat.

    Parking has always been an issue in down town Ann Arbor. There will never be enough of it. The city makes big buck from the U-M Students parking fines. They put extra ticket writers on close to the end of the school year to catch up with the students that have more then 4 unpaid tickets. The city budget is also dependent on money coming in from the parking tickets which is a shame because every time the parking fees or parking tickets go up the ones that suffer from it is all the businesses. With rents going up as well, these are a couple of the big reasons why many local business have moved out of the downtown.

    I’ll end with a joke that I heard a little while ago. It goes like this: “The one thing that people living in Ann Arbor hate more then urban sprawl is density in the down town.”

    Bob Dascola
       —Bob Dascola    May. 25 '05 - 10:24PM    #
  22. bd writes:
    > Parking has always been an issue
    > in down town Ann Arbor. There
    > will never be enough of it.

    you make that claim seriously? prove it.

    show me the parking data that demonstrates that you can never have enough parking. i’d settle for seeing current utilization patterns (vacancy vs time of day) for existing structures. i’d even settle for just seeing data showing when lots are full, and when they arent.

    claiming there can never be enough parking is baseless, and doesn’t really get us any further towards understanding how to develop downtown sensibly.

    bob
       —bob kuehne    May. 25 '05 - 11:02PM    #
  23. BobD, there’s one way that it’s unfortunate things in the DDA area are already exempt from parking requirements. If you could require all businesses to either provide parking or goPasses for their employees, you’d probably see 100% goPass participation in minutes.
       —Murph    May. 26 '05 - 12:16AM    #
  24. Council did approve a change in the annual RPP fee from $25 up to $40. This fee will now cover about one third of the cost to issue the permit, which is $126. Council also approved the new fee for replacing the physical RPP (the sticker that goes on the car) to cover the full $26 cost.

    Hold on—it costs $126 to issue a permit?!? And $26 to send a replacement sticker?!? WTF? How can it possibly cost anything remotely close to that? Just how many hours of clerical labor are involved in filling in a few boxes on a form and dropping a packet in a mailbox?
       —mw    May. 26 '05 - 08:06AM    #
  25. I do not think that Bob K’s request for data will do much to prove or disprove Bob D’s claim that there will never be enough parking in Ann Arbor. There are simply too many perspectives that see this same issue very differently. Bob D’s complaint about raising parking fees and fines points to the business perspective that there is not enough convenient parking for customers. While there has been talk around this issue, the business community has done little to address the problem of their employees consuming that same convenient parking. The outcry against new parking structures comes from a group who feel there is too much parking that is not used downtown. At the same time visitors feel there is not enough parking if they cannot park in front of the crowded Main St. restaurant that they have reservations for.
    My previous posts (and Todd’s) highlight the complexity of measuring parking in Ann Arbor in that the Old West Side is generally considered to oppose new parking structures because there is no need for them, yet receive a healthy subsidy to clear non-residents out of their neighborhood because they could not find a parking spot in front of their house.
    Collecting more accurate data on available parking would certainly help in improving the efficiency of the DDA parking facilities. It is my understanding 1) that the equipment that is used at most structures is not capable of collecting that information currently (however upgrades at some lots do collect that data) and 2) that the physical check that the DDA does a few times each year is a common practice with other parking systems. The parking provider in Madison uses a similarly occasional physical count. Of course, as mentioned numerous times in other posts, there is a cost to the collection, analysis and storage of this information.
    Assuming that completely accurate data on the available capacity in every structure, lot, and metered space were available to us, I doubt that there would be any more agreement between businesses, visitors, commuters, residents, and students as to whether there is enough parking in Ann Arbor. And this does nothing to address the impact of downtown parking policy on residential areas where it is even more difficult to determine parking capacity.
    Anthony Downs makes an argument in his book, Still Stuck in Traffic, that traffic congestion is not going away and cannot be reduced without a negative impact on the economic vitality of an area. He says that congestion is a sign of success similar to a restaurant where it is difficult to get reservations or a movie with a long line for tickets. At the end of a lecture I saw he said congestion is here to stay so get used to it and find a good radio station to listen to on your continually lengthening commute to work. I think he would argue the same about parking. And so he may agree with Bob D’s comment that the parking issue will never be resolved.

    ps- How do I get apostrophes to show up correctly here?
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 26 '05 - 09:09AM    #
  26. Scott, I think Downs does address parking congestion at some point in one of the two books, if only as a corollary, and, yes, says basically what you say about traffic congestion – want enough parking? Try recession!

    Try walking the Main St area at 7, 8, 9pm on a nice Thursday or Friday evening, and see how many parking spaces you can find. Listen to people talking on their cell phones as they walk down the street, and count how often they say, “Yeah, I’m in Ann Arbor for the evening!” or something similar. Ann Arbor isn’t just used by Ann Arborites, either during work hours or at night, and there is utterly no way for them to get here except by driving. This is why US-23 is packed several hours a day, and why queues of cars form on Ashley waiting for the “FULL” sign on the Kline’s Lot to flick off and let one of them in. (No, really. Spend five hours wandering Main St. on a Friday night watching cars. It’s very interesting, from an anthropological / planning point of view.)

    Scott – I don’t know about apostrophes. Are you composing comments somewhere else and cut/pasting? Do they show up correctly in preview?
       —Murph    May. 26 '05 - 09:27AM    #
  27. the claim that there will never be enough parking in downtown ann arbor is hyperbolic flourish, routine in friendly conversation. confronting bob d with a demand that he “prove it” feels … impolite.

    nonetheless, i will prove it! :-)

    proposition: we don’t have enough parking in downtown ann arbor today.

    proposition: we won’t have enough parking in downtown ann arbor tomorrow.

    by induction on the passing days, i conclude that we will never have enough parking in downtown ann arbor.

    Q.E.D.

    (ever! heh.)
       —peter honeyman    May. 26 '05 - 09:47AM    #
  28. Peter – the phrase “i don’t want to rip on so-and-so, but…” is very insincere. Why say it if you really don’t want to rip on me?? To address your point, though: we pay $70 a month for my husband’s car. It is the only car we use for long-distance traveling, errands, or visiting friends. Since we need a car, that cost isn’t going to go away by him not driving it 6 miles a day to work. Sure a bus pass is cheaper than a car if you have no car, but if you need a car anyway, driving it so little isn’t going to make a marked difference.

    Bob D – I appreciate your offer. I knew that the GoPass was cheap but didn’t realize just how cheap. I’ll ask my husband to talk to the owner again and see if she’ll pay for them. Maybe she will.

    Much as I appreciate y’all trying to solve my little problem, it doesn’t address the larger issues. There are a lot of people who work downtown – in the restaurants, serving coffee, selling books, etc – that earn minimum wage or a bit more than that. They are often forced to live at the edges of the city or in Ypsi (which means an hour+ bus ride, sometimes), or out in the ‘burbs away from public transit because housing is too expensive here. We can have all the structured parking we want, but they cost money to build so the parking isn’t free. How do people earning below the average wage in A2 afford a parking pass? especially assuming that their bosses won’t shell out $100/month for them to have one? I don’t see any alternative other than to park on the street, and with neighbors increasingly kicking the commuters out, I can’t help but think that most businesses other than restaurants will eventually leave the downtown.
       —KGS    May. 26 '05 - 09:59AM    #
  29. Update on costs of RPP

    Mw’s post gives me a chance to correct a couple things that I got wrong in my earlier posts.
    The $126 price tag for a permit includes:
    1/10th of depreciation costs- $7.30
    Customer service (what mw snidely calls checking boxes and dropping mail)- $12.42
    Enforcement- $92.76
    Accounting- $13.92

    I initially assumed that enforcement was a separate cost, but it is included here. I also assumed that depreciation was not included, which it is. I need to adjust my subsidy claims down a couple notches. It is probably best to say that the new $40 fee will cover about 40% of the cost of the program and will not contribute to the initial $12,000 cost.

    The numbers here are based on 281 permits sold in three of the RPP areas in 2004. Note that while the old west side purchased 130 passes in 2004, they have only purchased 88 in 2005. As the number of permits drops, the cost per permit will go up. If the price of the permit does not rise to compensate, then the subsidy of the program will.
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 26 '05 - 10:07AM    #
  30. look, i live on the old west side, and so, by the guestimate numbers, i “benefit” from on-street parking permits. woo. so, if the real cost (presumptively assuming that the earlier thread-math about costs of RSP programs) of an old-west-side parking permit is $400/year, charge that! no worries. and if it costs the city $44k/space to build new parking, amortized over 20 years, charge people $2200/year for permit parking – simple enough.

    my beef with bob ds statement (and your defense of it, peter) is that there’s a lot of this discussion that is grounded in nothing more than intuition. i don’t believe we’re better off running this city based on common knowledge, rather than facts. i’d humbly suggest gathering usage facts, studying how other cities have addressed parking conflicts, and then implement some decisions. but just building parking on the basis that “everybody knows” is complete hubris.

    bob
       —bob kuehne    May. 26 '05 - 10:19AM    #
  31. Bob,

    You gotta stop proving all of my points.

    1. You live in the old west side, and therefore have access to parking.

    2. You don’t care if we have more taxes ($400 per year for parking “no worries”, right?).
    Therefore, you don’t care if the working class who could walk downtown are priced out of living near the city center.

    3.You aren’t interested in real world stories from local business owners who tell you that there isn’t enough parking. You won’t listen to Bob Dascola whose family has been in business for, what, 75 years? His encounters with decades of long time business owners who are leaving in droves don’t count. It’s not “intuition” when it’s your business that is leaving.

    4. You, as I mentioned above, have completely ignored the article in question that has another set of homeowners a few blocks away who are telling you that there isn’t enough parking. Are you dismissing their perspective, too?

    5. You are directly benefitting from the parking policy that pushes unwanted parkers out of your neighborhood. If, as you say, there is plenty of parking, I’d suggest you put in a call to your neighborhood assoc. and demand that they change the parking policy for your neighborhood. I’m sure you’ll be warmly received.

    ....and, again, this is coming from a business owner who is lucky enought to have plenty of access to parking.

    Come on Bob. Take the opposite position for a change! :)
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 11:08AM    #
  32. “While there has been talk around this issue, the business community has done little to address the problem of their employees consuming that same convenient parking.”

    Really, Scott? Any clear evidence of this? Sounds like a huge opportunity if it’s true.

    Anecdotally, my wife’s employees take the bus or get dropped off, especially on weekends and busy evenings. Parking for customers is always a concern and regularly examined.

    “At the same time visitors feel there is not enough parking if they cannot park in front of the crowded Main St. restaurant that they have reservations for.”

    That’s an exaggeration that doesn’t fit in well with your otherwise objective analysis.

    The ‘feeling’ that there’s insufficient parking is a result of repeated visits after 5pm on Friday or Saturday during which the Kline’s lot, Brown block lot, 1st & Washington structure, and 1st & William lot are perpetually full; there’s no on-street parking available within a four-plus-block radius; and there’s a line to get into the Washington and William structures. There may be spots available on the top floor or two in each of those structures, but an extra 15 minutes or more out of their evening is a cost, perhaps even a barrier. There aren’t many folks that really expect to find a spot within a block—two, even—of where they’re going at those times. (A friend of mine calls it “parkma” when it happens, a play on “karma”—he must have done something to deserve such a gift from the universe.)
       —Steve Bean    May. 26 '05 - 11:10AM    #
  33. “we need them downtown, where the city should build them, and we need them around campus, where umich should build them.”

    Peter, why on earth would we want UMich to build parking garages? You don’t want the revenue?
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 11:11AM    #
  34. Bob K,
    My main gripe with RPP programs is this. The most effective way to utilize the program from the neighborhood’s perspective is to apply for the RPP and then have no one buy a permit. There is currently no requirement that anyone participate so it would cost nothing and others cannot park long-term in your neighborhood.
    If we raise the permit cost to $400, that is exactly what would happen. The cost of maitenance would continue while revenue would evaporate.
    Similarly if we charge $2,200/year for structure parking a large majority of commuters would give up their permit. Assuming that same price increase was implemented for hourly lot and structure parking, that demand would drop drastically as well. The result would be a less profitable parking facility with the same costs associated.
    Then we still have to deal with the question of where all these parkers priced out of the structure would go. Which brings me to Steve’s point.
    Steve,
    I really thought I could sneak that egregious comment about parking right in front of restaurants by. It is a credit to this forum that the attempt failed miserably.
    As to my remarks on the business community’s action toward reducing employee street parking, I should have been more specific. I fully support the go!pass program and feel that it is a valuable effort by the DDA to offer other option for commuters to get to work without driving. In fact I help run the program right now. The value to cost ratio for participation in this program is currently so huge that it seems like absolute lunacy for any business downtown not to participate even if only to look good.
    I was thinking of the pricing and timing of on street parking. Currently the cheapest way to park downtown for an extended period of time is to park at a meter, get a ticket, and pay it within 24 hours. You do run the risk of a second, more expensive ticket, but the risk is low enough for the behavior to pay off.
    If you work in the evening (as a waiter or bartender) street parking is a real bargain. Arrive downtown at 4pm and snag a prime street spot before the dinner rush. The meter isn’t enforced after 6pm so small change will pay for a full evening of parking. It’s much cheaper than a structure.
    The DDA is aware of this and spoke of changing the timing, fees, and fines for metered, on-street parking to encourage long term parkers to go to the structures. However there is concern like Bob D. that greater parking fees and fines will impact the customer base. No action has been taken yet as far as I know.
    So when Bob K raises the cost of parking to cover costs, everyone heads for the cheap street parking and stays there all day and all night.
    Currently on-street meters cost little to maintain and make a lot of money. They help cover the deficit of parking structures which are expensive and less convenient.(Todd, this is why UofM should build there own structures. To the best of my knowledge all structures in downtown areas have to be subsidized to function)
    As a whole, the parking system does come out in the black. The goal, according to the DDA, is to provide inexpensive, long-term parking for residents and commuters in structures that are subsidized by more expensive, more convenient on-street metered parking paid for by visitors. For this to work, I think some changes in pricing and timing need to be implemented.
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 26 '05 - 12:31PM    #
  35. There is no lack of parking in the downtown, or anywhere in Ann Arbor. In fact, a DDA-commissioned study performed by UM (see http://www.wbwc.org/articles/UM-AnnArborParkingStudy.pdf) found that we have significantly more parking than peer communities. There is an absolute unwillingness on the part of business interests in Ann Arbor to charge market rates for parking. If they were willing to charge market rates for parking, the “scarcity” of parking problem would vanish. They aren’t even willing to charge market rates for long-term parking and lower rates for short-term, shopping parking.

    We in SE Michigan lost sight many years ago that motor vehicle use is a privilege, an expensive privilege, and a privilege that is typically subsidized at the public expense. No one has to live in sprawl and commute to Ann Arbor. They make the choice to live in sprawl and they should pay the prices for their decision. The residents of Ann Arbor are under no obligation to make living in sprawl and cross-commuting cheap and convenient. People who choose to live far from work should expect to pay for gas, insurance, the costs of their automobile, a significant time cost in traffic and congestion, and significant market rate costs for parking their car when they get there.

    Do we prevent housing in Ann Arbor? Yes and no. Residents have expressed opposition to 10+ story high-rises. No one is preventing developers from building 4 story buildings downtown with ground-floor retail and underground parking. Developers would rather build one and two story sprawl developments, and with the strange assumption that Ann Arbor residents will provide them with a smooth commute on subsidized roads and subsidized parking, people choose to live in sprawl. They always have the option of living in Ann Arbor in a smaller unit for the same price, and giving up the second car and the long commute. They always have the option of living and working on bus routes for our excellent transit system. They always have the option of bicycling or walking to work at almost no cost.

    Frankly, I think every neighborhood should have a parking permit system. Every downtown residence should receive a single tradable permit for parking in a downtown structure. Residents should be allowed to sell their permits to the highest bidder. Everyone seems to forget that the streets in almost every neighborhood in Ann Arbor were first built by a developer who also built the houses, then deeded the street to the city. So nearly every home owner paid for that road to be built in the first place when they bought their house. The developers pass those costs on to the purchasers. The residents have paid a road repair millage most years on top of other millages to maintain that road. Non-residents didn’t pay for any of that. Since non-resident weight and gas taxes go primarily to maintaining major and minor arterial streets, they have the right to use those roads and a right to expect that they are properly maintained, but no right to expect they aren’t congested. Beyond that, they shouldn’t expect handouts of free parking on residential streets.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 12:42PM    #
  36. ”(Todd, this is why UofM should build there own structures. To the best of my knowledge all structures in downtown areas have to be subsidized to function)”

    Whoa. So you’re saying that a properly operated and maintained parking structure will not make money? Now that land is so damn expensive, you may have me on that one.

    But, still, are you sure? I have to say that I find that hard to believe. Do you mean privately owned garages, or public owned and privately managed parking garages? And I’m not talking about our old garages where someone at the city woke up and said “ummmm, we forgot to maintain these garages for the last 20 years.”
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 12:44PM    #
  37. Well, I may be eating my words at the end of the month. I just peeled open the June Observer to find the “Up Front” section reporting that “the DDA will vote this month on a new rate plan that would include one hour free parking in downtown structures. It would also cut hourly parking rates in structures for $.95 to $.80. ... In addition, rates on street meters would increase from $.80 to $1 an hour.”
    See your copy of the Observer for more details. Maybe this deserves it’s own thread?
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 26 '05 - 01:37PM    #
  38. Ken, while I agree with the theme of your diatribe (of making people pay the true cost of living in sprawl), you may also want to consider the following:

    (1) People of low income can’t live in Ann Arbor very easily. It is nigh impossible to find single family housing that a couple making the average income can afford. The apartment rates are pushed up and up by students, who pay the price to be close to campus. So where do they go? Ypsilanti, Manchester, Chelsea, Milan, anywhere they can afford a house and attain the American Dream – and get a commute as a consequence.

    (2) For the majority of the population, a car is a necessity, not a privilege. We need it to get to work, buy groceries, go to the doctor, or visit friends and family who don’t live next door. Until there is mass transit throughout SE Michigan, it will be necessary to have a car.

    (3) Not everyone can afford to buy a house near where they work. An example: a friend of mine works for the County at a health center in the OWS. He and his wife earn a total, maybe, of $70K a year. There is no possible way they could buy a house in the OWS on their income. They ended up in the far side of Ypsi, where, if they took the bus, it would mean a commute of 1-1/2 hours.

    Yes a great many people choose to live in sprawl and choose the lifestyle that makes parking, road congestion, etc. so much worse. But please remember that there is also a population who has no other choice, too.
       —KGS    May. 26 '05 - 01:40PM    #
  39. todd,

    only you could derive “you’re proving my points” from me asking for data to back up a fact-free assertion-fest. let’s discuss:

    >1. You live in the old west side, and
    > therefore have access to parking.

    well, speak of the obvious – i didn’t buy my house thinking “hot damn, think of this parking spot”. also, any person who wants to can park absolutely_free on one side of all OWS streets, any day, all day. got it? free. if we’re pricing people out at that rate, well, frankly, they’ve got to get a better accountant.

    > 2. You don’t care if we have more taxes ($400 per year for parking
    > “no worries�, right?).
    > Therefore, you don’t care if the working class
    > who could walk downtown are
    > priced out of living near the city center.

    therefore i don’t care? wtf, man – read what i say for a change. additionally, i fail to see how your ‘alt.pave.the.earth’ mentality assures affordability -for parking, for housing, for freaking anything.

    here’s what i wrote, in simpler words: stop the subsidies – no parking subsidies for residents, no parking subsidies (structures included) for businesses.

    > 3.You aren’t interested in real world
    > stories from local business owners who
    > tell you that there isn’t enough parking. > You won’t listen to Bob Dascola whose
    > family has been in business for, what,
    > 75 years? His encounters with decades
    > of long time business owners who are
    > leaving in droves don’t count. It’s not
    > “intuition� when it’s your business that
    > is leaving.

    show me the data, don’t just tell me stories. i’m trying to ground things in facts, not baseless assertions. if you want to tell stories, let’s all sit around a campfire somewhere, and scare eachother senseless with our stories of poor businesspeople who can’t run a business because of parking lots. but how about some facts, about these businesses that are ‘leaving in droves’. name them. show me why they left. it it because of parking? really, show me the books, show me their customers that left because they couldn’t park. i’m not assuming one way or the other, or presuming, as you are. facts, man, not anecdotes.

    so, if bob dascola’s business suffers from parking, and he’s leaving, as you assert, explain it to me slowly. these customers he’s not getting come into the store (after parking where?) and say ‘man, i’d buy something, but i can’t park anywhere, just wanted to share that. seeya’.

    > 4. You, as I mentioned above, have
    > completely ignored the article in
    >question that has another set of
    > homeowners a few blocks away who are
    > telling you that there isn’t enough
    > parking. Are you dismissing their perspective, too?

    read what the article says, stop reading into things. the only perspective i’m dismissing is that where people just assert truth. read the article, i repeat – they’re saying not that there’s not enough parking, but they object to students leaving cars for weeks at the time, and want a parking for short-term periods only, as a neighborhood permit allows. speaking of parking, and driving, you could back a truck through your logic holes.

    > 5. You are directly benefitting from the
    > parking policy that pushes unwanted
    > parkers out of your neighborhood. If, as
    > you say, there is plenty of parking, I’d
    > suggest you put in a call to your
    > neighborhood assoc. and demand that
    > they change the parking policy for your
    >neighborhood. I’m sure you’ll be warmly received.

    hot damn, man, read. what. i. wrote. i didn’t say there’s plenty of parking everywhere. i asked for the data about downtown parking. show me the data. where’s the data? data. data. data. i’m missing out on how to be clearer.

    let’s try to make decisions based on facts, not anecdotes, rumor, innuendo, or just intuition.

    sheesh. herding cats.
       —bob kuehne    May. 26 '05 - 01:46PM    #
  40. Ken Clark— That hole in your head? It’s where you cut off your nose to spite your face. Instead of working on ways to punish those unwashed masses that deign to drive to your Kerrytown country club city, how about we work to make it easier for them to live here, and stay cognizant of the structural reasons why the agents involved act the way they do? Could you do that for me?
       —js    May. 26 '05 - 01:53PM    #
  41. > speaking of parking, and driving, you could back a truck through your logic holes.

    that was snarky. i apologize.

    let’s actually get the core of the issues, and not just wag our fingers at each other saying ‘no you’re dumberer’. again, sorry.
       —bob kuehne    May. 26 '05 - 01:59PM    #
  42. Ken,

    Some of your arguments are simply preoposterous on the very face of them:

    “There is no lack of parking in the downtown, or anywhere in Ann Arbor. In fact, a DDA-commissioned study performed by UM (see http://www.wbwc.org/articles/UM-AnnArborParkingStudy.pdf) found that we have significantly more parking than peer communities.”

    There is, in fact, a lack of parking right around Main St. However, there is often NOT a lack of parking a few blocks from Main St. A perfect example is the structure at Washington and 4th. Over the past 4 months, I’ve been down near or in that structure on multiple Friday and Saturday nights. It has never been full. It’s often less than halfway full. Why it’s overlooked in the grand scheme of the Main St. parking issue, I have no idea. However, to simply deny that there is a parking problem based on a study of the overall area (your statement) and anecdotal evidence of one structure (mine) is not a very logical way to proceed.

    ” There is an absolute unwillingness on the part of business interests in Ann Arbor to charge market rates for parking.”

    As Todd has repeatedly mentioned, part of the problem with doing so is the fact that the strip malls around town and Briarwood don’t charge for parking. When one can park for free and have a greater assurance of finding a space immediately, as opposed to circling the block for a few minutes or waiting in a block-long line of cars (and we Americans are certainly wedded to our conveniences), it becomes obvious where many of the casual shoppers and diners will go.

    “We in SE Michigan lost sight many years ago that motor vehicle use is a privilege, an expensive privilege, and a privilege that is typically subsidized at the public expense.”

    Granted, and I share your implied long-term thinking. However, I also recognize that many people/business owners will either not respond or be unable to respond to long-term solutions. They will stop coming here as a matter of course or go out of business, respectively. Consquently, we need to find a short-term solution that melds decently with a long-term one.

    “No one has to live in sprawl and commute to Ann Arbor. They make the choice to live in sprawl and they should pay the prices for their decision.”

    I don’t know what reasoning this statement is coming from but it’s profoundly insulting to the many people who DO have to live on the fringes of town or in less expensive communities and yet still must come to Ann Arbor to work. I find it inordinately politically disturbing that many of those activists whom I’ve known for many years are now in Ypsilanti (and doing good work out there) because they can no longer afford to live here. The idea that someone would CHOOSE to undertake a commute and absorb the associated costs (in both money and time) is absolutely fallacious. And if the residents of Ann Arbor are interested in keeping their downtown from becoming subsumed in chain merchants and akin to vast stretches of soulless Oakland County, they are, in fact, obligated to do something about it. I won’t speak for you, but I certainly don’t want that.

    “No one is preventing developers from building 4 story buildings downtown with ground-floor retail and underground parking.”

    Well, yes, they often are, as the professed outrage of various neighborhood groups to ANY development that detracts from their personal image of Ann Arbor-as-Tecumseh has so often won out over wise use of the land. 4 stories are insufficient. 8 or 9 would be far better. Underground parking is a quandary in and of itself. While it may protect the skyline from unsightly parking structures, it is hideously expensive to build. I’m no ally of the developers, as many of them can afford to build sounder structures than they do if they’re willing to cut into their profit margins. But the latter sentiment has branded me a business heretic in more than one forum (which I wear proudly, thank you.) But this is, of course, the root of the problem: affordable housing. Clearing that hurdle would start the snowball rolling in the direction I think most of us on this particular forum want for many issues. But it’s a big hurdle and, again, we have to consider short-term and long-term approaches.

    “They always have the option of living in Ann Arbor in a smaller unit for the same price, and giving up the second car and the long commute. They always have the option of living and working on bus routes for our excellent transit system. They always have the option of bicycling or walking to work at almost no cost.”

    Again, you talk about these options as if they’re a given; as if anyone can take advantage of them with almost no effort. Think again. Property values are still too high for many downtown workers to live within bicycling and/or walking distance. As good as AATA is, it’s not nearly comprehensive enough for a growing municipality of this size. And, working for a property management company and knowing what I know about rental rates, your assertion about the tradeoffs involving second cars and smaller units in terms of affordability is flat-out wrong.

    And your argument about paying the costs of the deeded streets and highest bidders and so forth is, quite honestly, an “I’ve got mine” argument of the highest order. Those costs have long since been paid and ceding parking rights to only those able to pay for them is an exclusionary tactic which is already in play by the lack of genuinely affordable housing in our city. We certainly don’t need to make it worse.

    In the end, any plan should keep in mind what kind of community we want the city to be; not just how advantageous the situation can be made for those of us who can actually afford to live here.
       —Marc R.    May. 26 '05 - 02:02PM    #
  43. (Todd stands and give an ovation to Marc R. Much whistling and hooting follows….)

    Fantastic post Marc!
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 02:22PM    #
  44. Bob,

    Well I guess I misinterpreted what you said. I have to admit I smiled at the herding cats metaphor. Got a visual.

    And no apology needed about snarkyness Bob. I think that we get where the other is coming from just fine. It’s not like I was being perfectly polite either….I had it coming.

    I have stated before that I like many of your ideas on parking.
    What I am asking you to do to reverse your thinking. Start with the position that we don’t have enough parking rather than the other way around. Now try and prove this point mathematically. It’s difficult, to say the least.

    I get that your point is that we need more data, and on its face I agree with the proposition (and I have told you this before). My point is that you cannot/should not dismiss anecdotal evidence that tell you that a lack of parking has an effect on local businesses and residents.

    Permit parking will reinforce an outsider’s perspective that Ann Arbor has no parking. It is designed to benefit locals to the detriment of commuters/shoppers. This tact has serious consequences, and the main thrust of my argument is that I’m not at all sure if residents fully understand that.

    So I guess that I ask what data do you need? How about if I assume that the number of street parking spots has remained constant for the last 20 years. I will then look at the increase in commuters over the last 20 years, and then add in the increase of UMich students, staff, and ancillary services. Now how big of a disparity would you need to see in order to come to the conclusion that we need more parking?

    Last point. Do you think that the average Wash. County resident thinks that parking in Ann Arbor is difficult or impossible?
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 02:41PM    #
  45. KGS,

    First, I wouldn’t call that a diatribe. My diatribes are much worse than that. By law in Michigan, driving an automobile is a privilege.

    As far as your friends, sorry, but you’re talking to the wrong person. My family of four earns the same as your friends, and we live quite comfortably in a house we own, within city limits, with only one car. We drive the car less than 7k miles per year. If we wanted to, we could ditch the car and rent for long trips. Driving is so subsidized, however, that it’s cheaper for us to keep the car.

    I get to my doctor’s appointments on bike, we buy half our groceries by bike, we walk and bike to farmer’s market, we walk the kids to school, and I bike to work. My wife biked to work when she worked at the University. She’s taking several years off work to be with the kids. We had one car then as well. The car is only a necessity if you build your life around the choice to make it a necessity. That is still a choice, the car is still a privilege.

    If you reread my post, I did say living on a transit line was a reasonable option. Essentially all of Ypsilanti is on AATA lines, Arrowwood and our other co-ops are on transit lines, and much of the nearby surrounding areas are on transit lines. Again, choosing to avoid these options is a choice.

    JS – I’m sorry, but you’ve missed the point. We will not be able to convince developers to develop in Ann Arbor while they have the option of building in the suburbs far more cheaply. As long as people think they can buy in sprawl and commute into Ann Arbor on the cheap, developers will build in townships. There are three large properties off Nixon Road in Ann Arbor I know of that are waiting for someone to buy them and start building. They are on an AATA bus line, well within walking distance to schools, well within walking/biking/transit distance to the Traver Village Kroger, other stores, and Pfizer. I don’t see developers falling over themselves to build there, in large part because land in the townships is dirt cheap and SOV commuting into AA is so subsidized.

    This may be difficult to understand, but if you want more housing in Ann Arbor, one good way to get there is allow peak hour congestion to happen and take away automobile subsidies. This is one of the profound lessons we have failed to grasp in SE Michigan. Free parking in residential neighborhoods is one of those subsidies.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 02:44PM    #
  46. BobK: While I love evidence and statistical significance as much as the next grad student, I think you’re asking for a little more positivism than can realistically be provided. Studies cost money. Lots of money. Doing them well costs extra. An effort should be made to act from facts rather than common knowledge, as you say, wherever reasonable, but the cost-effectiveness of “facts” is not a given.

    I would direct both you and Steve, however, to the work of Anthony Downs at the Brookings Institution and John Pucher at the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research for general data on parking demand, and parking subsidies. (I’ll save you a little time, Steve: 0-subsidy parking is only feasible if it happens at the state level. Otherwise, you’re just pushing businesses out of the DDA, into the Townships, across the County line, whatever. Downtown Ann Arbor has a strong pull, but not infinitely strong.
       —Murph.    May. 26 '05 - 02:45PM    #
  47. Now, speaking in DDA Intern mode (and having just stepped out of a committee meeting after the first two hours of discussing parking), I will address ScottTB’s comments (#35 and #37) with a, “This is off the record, but you shouldn’t trust anything the Observer calls a done deal at this point w.r.t. parking rates and times.”

    I’d also suggest that you might consider showing up at the next DDA Board meeting or two (first Wednesdays, noon, Kerrytown Concert House) if the topic of on-street parking interests you.

    Beyond that, I will say “no comment”, because I don’t want to say anything that will cause people to change their behavior and throw off my data-collection mid-study.
       —Murph.    May. 26 '05 - 02:48PM    #
  48. “My family of four earns the same as your friends, and we live quite comfortably in a house we own, within city limits, with only one car.”

    Ken, personal question, I suppose. What year did you buy your house?
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 02:58PM    #
  49. I think Ken’s right. And I think Marc’s right. They’re largely talking about different groups of people. The sprawl housing does exist, in part because people choose to live there and in part because there’s limited housing, ‘affordable’ or otherwise, near where they work. The folks who can’t afford to live downtown also can’t afford to own a home in many cases, not in the city and not in the ‘burbs. They rent and (if in the city) ride the bus or (if outside the city) a beater with low insurance costs.

    The factors under consideration are many: location, day of week, time of day, ownership of parking, place of residence (in several senses), time cost, financial cost, business climate, downtown vitality, trip purpose, social equity, and more. To echo Scott TenBrink’s comment, it’s to the credit of this forum (you all) that we’ve touched on all those factors. An effort on all our parts to avoid blanket statements and overstatements would help us move towards consensus rather diverging away from it. (And I do believe that consensus on this is possible. It just won’t be on a single point or even several, but on a larger slate of components.)
       —Steve Bean    May. 26 '05 - 03:07PM    #
  50. Marc,

    Surely you recognize the rediculousness of many of your points? There is a lack of parking on Main Street but ample parking a few blocks away? You must see that this is a pricing problem, right? We provide a commons resource, underprice it in one location and overprice it nearby, and you are suprised that one location is heavily used and the other is largely empty. Don’t they teach basic economics anymore?

    People who choose to base their lives on one of our most expensive transportation modes have made a choice. I can’t help it that they may be insulted that people call that a choice. The fact remains that cars are tremendously expensive and people could afford much more expensive housing if they didn’t choose to spend much of their income on an auto-dependent lifestyle. Have you never heard of Location Efficient Mortgages?

    I don’t know what planet you’re living on, but people seem to be constantly making the choice between living in one place with better schools but a smaller house, or living in another location with poorer schools and a larger house. You act as if there are no choices of places to live, places to work, or places to raise children. You sound as though you believe it is impossible for people to walk, bike, or take a bus anywhere. You don’t really believe these are impossible do you? There are at least 20% of Ann Arbor residents (not including any students or other people in group housing) who would beg to differ.

    I guess that we only really agree on your last statement. We need to decide whether this community should be like every other car-dependent community in Michigan and be gutted in a few decades, or like the successful communities that have decided there are limits to automobile subsidies.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 03:11PM    #
  51. Murph, you lost me. I don’t remember making (and can’t find any) comments about subsidies re: parking. I almost posted to suggest that private structures may not make sense if public ones have to be subsidized. Are you monitoring the comments that I write but don’t send? :-)
       —Steve Bean    May. 26 '05 - 03:32PM    #
  52. Todd asked:
    “Ken, personal question, I suppose. What year did you buy your house?”

    1994, and affordable housing was considered a problem then. Interest rates were higher, and lenders were not as free with their loans as they are now. My sister in law recently bought a shared two-flat in Chicago for not quite twice what our house goes for and on lower income than we have.

    Our neighbor just bought into our neighborhood, in a house more expensive than mine would supposedly be, with slightly lower income than we have. They have two kids and wanted to be in AA schools.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 03:34PM    #
  53. Ken,

    By law in Michigan, driving an automobile is a privilege.

    Frankly I don’t care what the law says. To the majority of the population outside Ann Arbor, a car is a necessity, and given their living situations they’re probably right. The question is, how can we improve Ann Arbor in terms of working, parking, and housing, to make a car less necessary or not necessary at all?

    You have 10 years of inflation on your side as far as housing goes. I can tell you from personal experience, trying to find a house in Ann Arbor while making less than $70K a year is a very hard thing to do, at least in the last couple of years. And the friends I was describing are a family of 3, thank you very much.

    My lifestyle is much the same as yours, except substitute ‘bike’ for ‘bus’ or walking. However, I have a number of friends in Ypsi Township, Manchester, Lodi, and Ypsi that aren’t near the bus lines. So what do we do then, not associate with them because we can’t reach them without a car, or visit only when I can catch a bus home? that just doesn’t make any sense.

    I chose my home because it is on a transit line. My point is simply this: not EVERYONE can afford to buy a home in Ann Arbor, or on a transit line, or take transit to their place of work. Saying that they are bad people for driving to work really misses the point.

    BTW, have you looked at the Ypsi AATA map and its schedule? it doesn’t cover much of Ypsilanti, really, and there is still the very basic problem: I can take the bus from Ypsi to Ann Arbor and it will take an hour just to go from transit center to transit center, or I can drive my car and it takes 20 minutes. You can guess which one people do, time and time again. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
       —KGS    May. 26 '05 - 03:38PM    #
  54. Clearly, you don’t find a car to be optional for you personally; you have one, even though you share it with your wife. Anyway, the people supporting these permits have primarily complained that their friends, contractors and high-school children with cars are having trouble finding spots on the street. Why can’t their friends park on the outskirts of town and take a bus?
       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 26 '05 - 03:39PM    #
  55. um, that was directed toward Ken.
       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 26 '05 - 03:40PM    #
  56. “My point is simply this: not EVERYONE can afford to buy a home in Ann Arbor, or on a transit line, or take transit to their place of work.”

    Not everyone can afford a home, period. So what? You’ll find plenty of 3-person families on GSI salaries living in family housing on North Campus (or similar apartments elsewhere). I find your definitions of “can afford”, “need”, etc., make a lot of odd assumptions.

    “Saying that they are bad people for driving to work really misses the point.”

    They’re not bad people. They’re good people who are making sensible choices based on the bad economic incentives they’ve been handed. We’d like to modify those incentives so it’s easier for them to make better choices.
       —Bruce Fields    May. 26 '05 - 03:49PM    #
  57. Ken, another personal question that you don’t have to answer.

    What do you think that house is worth today? If you had to buy it again today, do you think that you would qualify for a loan with your stated household income of less than $70K per year?
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 03:52PM    #
  58. Enforcement- $92.76

    Ah, well that’s different—not a cost of issuing a permit at all, but a cost of operating the system.

    However, what about the revenue generated by towing? It would seem to me that it would make sense not to patrol routinely but rather to respond to resident complaints—a high percentage of which would result in towed cars, which generates revenue (and the city gets a healthy cut, doesn’t it?)
       —mw    May. 26 '05 - 03:56PM    #
  59. Not having to be embarrassed by student junkers parked outside when Chip and Muffy come over for tea – priceless.
       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 26 '05 - 03:59PM    #
  60. One wonders what will happen to Ann Arbor housing prices if everyone who commutes into Ann Arbor decides to take Ken’s advice and moves into the city.
       —tom    May. 26 '05 - 04:05PM    #
  61. KGS,

    People can’t bike or walk to the bus? Americans have somehow taken up the notion that walking more than five minutes or biking more than a mile are physically impossible things. Is there anywhere else in the world where human beings believe that? Are you saying that there are no housing opportunities within a two-mile bike ride of AATA’s bus system? People are so addicted to the convenience of automobiles that anything else seems inconceivable.

    As to your friends in various far-flung locations, they chose to live there. They must have known they lived far away when they made those choices, right? Didn’t they stop to think that there were possibilities that their commuting costs and time would skyrocket in the future? What will your friends do when gas prices reach $3, $4, or $5 a gallon, expect someone to lower the prices for them? I think we have to assume that people are smart and think things through. If they chose to live far away, they were accepting the risks that their commute might become untenable at some point.

    I think the rest of you are missing another point. You act as though use of an automobile is the only possible choice in life. Since this is one of our most expensive transportation options, you are implicitly dooming low-income people to a life of poverty with this approach. If they have to have a car to live, they will likely never be able to buy a house and build equity, the best way we know of in our society for most people to get ahead in life. Are you really saying that it’s better to keep subsidizing their car use, keeping them trapped in this expensive addiction, than to force them to realize the costs and switch to something they can afford? That sounds like a page straight out of the auto industry’s script.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 04:05PM    #
  62. Hey, AAiO (if that is your real name)—80 years ago, the dude who built this house bought the land from the descendant of 2 guys who deeded the right of way to the city of Ann Arbor so that they wouldn’t have to keep regrading it. The point is, I OWN THE STREETS. So Chip and Muffy don’t HAVE to look at the car that poor kid can hardly afford, because owning property in the city entitles me to a level of service and power above and beyond the rest of the “citizens” (if you can even call someone who lives here for a measly 6 years [at least] while studying a “citizen” or “resident” without disparaging them as “temporary”). GOT IT?
       —Dale    May. 26 '05 - 04:08PM    #
  63. Ken—do you not realize that people have finite resources of both money and time and that they make the best choice about how to allocate them (allowing for their other top priorities) and that that choice is restricted by real estate, financial, and infrastructure forces?

    Hell, I’d love it if everybody biked to work or to transit no matter how difficult it was or how long it took. The reality is that taking on the ratio of debt to earnings to buy something reasonably walkable/bikeable to employment in Ann Arbor is immediately foolish (whereas consuming gas and buying into sprawl has more remote consequences).

    In addition, the amount of time spent walking or biking or busing vs. driving, in many cases, is not worth it for anyone who, um, wants to spend time with their family or works a lot or…

    A more reasonable strategy than asking “why doesn’t everyone just do what I can do?” is asking “given the entrenched attachment to automobiles and the difficulties of affording housing in Ann Arbor (I can’t believe you’re even arguing about that), how can we encourage and enable people to make better choices about (hundreds of things)?”
       —Dale    May. 26 '05 - 04:20PM    #
  64. Ann Arbor is Overrated Wrote:

    “Clearly, you don’t find a car to be optional for you personally; you have one, even though you share it with your wife. Anyway, the people supporting these permits have primarily complained that their friends, contractors and high-school children with cars are having trouble finding spots on the street. Why can’t their friends park on the outskirts of town and take a bus?”

    On the contrary, I wrote earlier “We drive the car less than 7k miles per year. If we wanted to, we could ditch the car and rent for long trips. Driving is so subsidized, however, that it’s cheaper for us to keep the car.” The car is heavily subsidized. If it weren’t we probably wouldn’t bother with it. The times we’ve been without it in the past weren’t particularly traumatic. If we got rid of it, which we have considered a number of times, we would have to rent a car for occasional trips to Ohio. Our trips to Chicago are already by train, and I work right next to Kroger, so buying the rest of our groceries in the bike trailer wouldn’t be particularly difficult. I often do that in the warmer months anyway, just to leave the car in the garage for another week.

    I don’t see why their friends couldn’t park on the outskirts of town and take the bus. I suppose they and their friends would consider it inconvenient. Presumably your real question is why their friends, contractors, and children have a greater claim on the parking in their neighborhood than people who drive into Ann Arbor. I pointed out that the residents paid for the street in the first place, but Marc pooh-poohed that. I believe if we were to have lawyers look this up, we would find that non-arterial streets (and most arterials for that matter) belong to the City of Ann Arbor, not the State of Michigan, however, and ownership of the adjacent property carries some small weight.

    My primary reason to feel that the residents and their associates have a greater claim is that the non-residents are generally doing far more damage to the environment and the community than are the residents. The residents are paying taxes to maintain those streets, including an extra road repair millage. Non-resident commutes are presumably imparting more external costs than the resident’s trips. However, I would have to say that a better alternative would be to remove the on-street parking altogether and narrow the streets. That would resolve the argument, though not necessarily to everyone’s liking, while reducing impervious surfaces, calming traffic, and making the community more pedestrian friendly at the same time.
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 04:26PM    #
  65. Ken said:
    “Surely you recognize the rediculousness of many of your points?”

    No. I tend to avoid ridiculous statements unless I’m trying to make a joke. I haven’t made a joke yet on AU, to my knowledge.

    ” There is a lack of parking on Main Street but ample parking a few blocks away? ”

    If you’ll slow down and read again, you’ll notice that I acknowledged the odd phenomonon of that structure in my experience, but also noted that my experience is anecdotal. The expanded implication that I perhaps should have expanded on has been made by several other posters here: You can’t expect that 20 years of increased population (residential and commuter) will be handled properly by 1985 levels of parking. And I wasn’t surprised by anything, so you can stop ascribing particular motivations and emotions to my statements anytime now.

    “People who choose to base their lives on one of our most expensive transportation modes have made a choice.”

    Poor assumption. That choice is often made for them. Have you ever filled out an application for a job that specifically asks if transportation is available? Welcome to their world. Have you ever lived in a situation where school hours interact too closely with work hours to make hour-long bus rides feasible? Welcome to their world. Have you ever worked three jobs and needed the flexible transportation necessary to remain in those jobs? Welcome… I can go on and on. It’s all well and good that you’ve made YOUR choice and, thankfully, had the economic means to do so. You have my respect for having done so. But you can’t reasonably suggest that others had or have your means, whether in 1994 or now. This is exactly the point I’m making about a combination of short-term solutions (to help them) and long-term solutions (to get closer to the vision that you have in mind.)

    ” I can’t help it that they may be insulted that people call that a choice.”

    That’s fairly draconian. I could utter a racial slur and say that I can’t help it that some people are insulted by the fact that I call said slur a term of classification.

    ” The fact remains that cars are tremendously expensive and people could afford much more expensive housing if they didn’t choose to spend much of their income on an auto-dependent lifestyle.”

    Chicken or the egg…?

    “I don’t know what planet you’re living on,”

    The Internet-enabled planet. Same as you.

    ” but people seem to be constantly making the choice between living in one place with better schools but a smaller house, or living in another location with poorer schools and a larger house.”

    Heh. Those people are predominantly white and able to make that choice. I know quite a few who could do nothing but laugh in your face if you suggested that said option existed for them.

    “I guess that we only really agree on your last statement.”

    It’s always good to start somewhere.

    ” We need to decide whether this community should be like every other car-dependent community in Michigan and be gutted in a few decades, or like the successful communities that have decided there are limits to automobile subsidies.”

    Which communities would those be? Examples?
       —Marc R.    May. 26 '05 - 04:37PM    #
  66. Todd asked:

    “Ken, another personal question that you don’t have to answer.

    What do you think that house is worth today? If you had to buy it again today, do you think that you would qualify for a loan with your stated household income of less than $70K per year?”

    I’m told this house would cost just over $200,000. I didn’t state that my income is less than $70k per year; I stated that it is about the same as the couple KGS was talking about, at around $70k per year. I have two answers to your question. First, I suspect I would look at the national housing bubble situation and wait a year or two, renting in Ann Arbor as we were before we bought the house.

    If I didn’t think the housing market was headed for a cooling period, I would buy the house and I have no doubt I could find a lender to finance it. Yes, I would still buy the house and without any car payments (we only buy used cars), we could still afford it.

    Can we get back on topic now?
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 04:38PM    #
  67. Steve: sorry, I think I meant Ken. The rate of comments is such that I’m getting confused.

    Ken: while I think that you have an admirable vision of an end state, I’m with MarcR in thinking that your intermediate thinking is somewhat wishful. The choice of where to live is rarely so open as you describe it, and you sound like you’re in the luckiest segment of households; two adults, neither trying to balance work with school, multiple jobs across town from each other, or night shifts (which AATA does not serve). You want to live in a world where anybody can live a carfree lifestyle just by deciding to do so – it’s not that easy.

    The transportation infrastructure is not set up to allow that choice to made easily, and there’s a limit as to how fast we can change things. Trying to do it in the manner of Henry VI (“First thing we do, let’s kill all the parking!”) will be an absolute windfall for those developers you sneer at in the Townships, as downtown will empty out. It has to be done at a higher level. The State? I don’t think Michigan is in a great position to be taking a hard line on automobiles right now. Much as I am a True Believer that sprawl is absolutely cancerous in the long-term toll it takes, chemo can only be so aggressive before it kills the patient, too.
       —Murph    May. 26 '05 - 05:13PM    #
  68. I’d like to ask if we can back away from grandiose, sweeping statements about national conditions, though, and try to find some measures that are within reach, technically, politically, and fiscally feasible.

    Getting back to the RPP topic, I feel as though ScottTB’s numbers are pretty damning for the current form of the program. If a program is going to recover so little of its costs (whether those be permit processing, patroling, whatever), there has to be a demonstrable public benefit from it. RPPs have a clear benefit to the residents of the district, but would seem to be only negative for everybody else: others are paying for the privilege of losing a parking option.
       —Murph    May. 26 '05 - 05:18PM    #
  69. Murph, there you go being reasonable. Reading this thread, I thought I’d stumbled into a sort of civic-intellectual Fight Club. I was hoping to avoid joining in on the dick waving, but I can’t resist…

    In response to Ken re: Location Efficient Mortgages. LEM’s are AWESOME. Of course, according to a Sierra Club Web site on the topic:

    “Location Efficient Mortgage services are available in the cities of Chicago and Seattle; Los Angeles County; and the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.


    So that doesn’t really apply to anyone in our neck of the woods. It’d be nice if someone could prod some lenders in to providing such a thing, but the prospective areas in which you could actually buy a residence that doesn’t require at least some access to an auto is pretty small for most people, IMO … and expensive.

    And Ken said:

    “I don’t see why their friends couldn’t park on the outskirts of town and take the bus. I suppose they and their friends would consider it inconvenient.”

    If you’re commuting it’s inconvenient but totally possible. A lot (if not enough) people do it. If you’re coming in to town to visit, however, buses don’t run late enough and you can’t park your car legally for days at a time on the outskirts of the city. I looked into this in detail when I used to come visit friends in AA for a weekend, but the commuter lots were off-limits for overnight parking. Parking structures also forbid multi-day parking, so I would park on a neighborhood street for free.

    I think most of us engaging in this conversation agree (as Bruce stated) that adjusting for the true costs of parking and an auto-centricness is a good idea. But I agree with Murph that your scorched earth approach would have serious negative impacts and would likely counteract your stated goals.

    Things I think we agree on:
    * Better and more mass transit
    * Storage parking on the outskirts of town
    * Better support for biking/walking
    * Development that supports pedestrian and mass transit oriented lifestyles cough*density*cough

    So far, so good?
       —Scott T.    May. 26 '05 - 06:01PM    #
  70. Scott T.,

    Well, I for one can certainly agree with all four of your points…..and, of course, I come to the exact same cough-laden conclusion that you arrived at….

    Ken,

    Yes, we can get back to the topic now. In retrospect I shouldn’t have asked.
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 06:43PM    #
  71. Oh, and Ken,

    Pretty neat articles about you and your bike riding exploits in AAnews and Detroit FP.
       —todd    May. 26 '05 - 06:46PM    #
  72. Ken- Aww, you smug yuppie. Thank God you realize that you can make the right choices for the rest of us stiffs.
    Hey, guess what? You already make about double the real median household income. I guess that allows you to be enlightened in your views, Ken, about the choices that the rest of us schlubs should make. I guess I wouldn’t mind it so much if your posts didn’t come across with the rank condescention of I-got-mine bullshit. If, say, someone works on my side of town, and has to take a bus from say, here to Packard and Eisenhower, where the office parks are, do you know how long that takes? About two hours, Ken. Not including the 10 minute walk to the bus stop from my door (about a quarter mile). Which is, you know, real appealing in the winter. But yeah, it’s a choice.
    Now, let’s think about someone making service economy wages. Far beyond your ken, Ken, I know, but just imagine yourself amungst the English for a moment. Is their time better served spending four hours a day on the bus, or buying a car? You, Ken, in your infinite compassion, have come up with a simple answer: make it harder for them to have a car. Don’t bother dealing with the fact that working class people often have to work odd shifts, I’m sure that never comes up in your enlightened world.
    Y’know, I’m too bothered by your bullshit to even put in a truly coherent rebuttal. But I hope that you realize that being able to bike to work is a fucking privelege, when constrained by real life, if you’re not a bourgeois fucker who doesn’t have Ken Clarks trying to make their lives harder.
    In other posts, you’ll find me all for changing structural barriers to non-motorized traffic, but I generally try to do it without punishing the poor, Ken. Maybe you should take your optional car to a fucking golf course and tell your khaki buddies about how you’re just trying to do what’s good for all of us, you prick.
       —js    May. 26 '05 - 08:48PM    #
  73. yikes.

    would someone please throw down a swastika or something so that we can invoke godwin’s law?
       —peter honeyman    May. 26 '05 - 10:27PM    #
  74. Murph,

    Actually, I care a bit more what you think, since you will be going out in the real world and influencing policy somewhere. You, but mostly others, put an awful lot of words in my mouth, and I’m interested in what you think about what I actually proposed: allowing tradeable permit parking in residential areas and market-based parking in the downtown.

    This really doesn’t strike me as scorched-earth, as other people have claimed. Why does that seem so inappropriate?
       —Ken Clark    May. 26 '05 - 10:47PM    #
  75. Ken, that is not what people are criticizing. Your rhetoric (eg comment 61) is flippant, to say the least. As I said, people face a number of pressures (including some of the commenters) and have not been able to make the choices you have. Acknowledging these forces (and shaping policy to work within them) only strengthens the policy. But I think you know that.
       —Dale    May. 26 '05 - 11:11PM    #
  76. KGS, Please let me know what happens with your husbands boss and the go-pass. The one I received was last Nov 1st and runs to Oct.31st and it maybe possible that you can’t get one now until Nov, but the boss will have to make application to the Get Down Town program. If you go to www.getdowntown.org and you’ll be able to read up on the details. If you have any questions that need answering I’m sure you’ll find it at this web site.

    About the statement that I made last night about “Parking is always an issue”. For the past 35 years I have been working in the downtown. I’ve have talked to hundreds of people that visited my business over the years. Many of them have driven their car downtown. I have heard over and over again about how hard it was to find parking, it’s like a broken record. In the past 3 1/2 year while doing the appointment thing, I have had many people call me on the cell phone and cancel the appointment because they couldn’t find parking. Also, its very seasonal, by that I mean when the students are here(fall and winter terms) parking is very tight, but during the spring and summer terms it’s much easier, except when the Art Fair is on. I’m sure it’s much different down on Main Street and over in Kerry Town.

    Before the DDA took over the parking in the downtown the parking garages were falling apart. Over on South U, the Forest Street garage was so bad( in the late 70’s) the city didn’t have the money to fix it up so they were planning on selling it to get rid of the problem. The South Association got together with the city officials and helped them see where the problem was. The city wasn’t putting any money aside to repair the garages, as it all went into the general fund and very little came back for repairs. After the DDA took over the parking few years ago the repair fund was started and is doing great to keep them clean, painted and also replaced too. Forest Street in one example and the other is 4th and Washington. The 1st and Washington one was built in the late 40’s and is the oldest one around. It is falling apart and needs to be replaced.

    It would be interesting to see how it would play out if indeed all the downtown businesses were required to supply the go pass as Murph stated. The Mayors Downtown Marketing Taskforce meeting is next week. I have been attending this taskforce for 3 years now. I will bring up this subject(about the go-pass) for discussion. The group is made up of the directors of the business associations, the chamber, AATA, the shelter association, the convention center, Citizen advisory commission, the DDA, two city council members and the mayor.

    Bob Dascola
       —Bob Dascola    May. 26 '05 - 11:54PM    #
  77. I’ll point out again that two distinct populations are being referenced. Ken is justifiably critical of those privileged people (like himself) who may have chosen to live in the ‘burbs and drive an SUV (unlike him). Marc and others are referring to people who are less privileged for whom the decisions are more impactful on the necessities of life. (Meanwhile, js pitifully reduced this matter to himself and Ken.)

    I think Ken’s focus is understandable and forgiveable. I likewise challenge anyone who lives as comfortably as I do, or moreso, to reduce their resource consumption and subsidy exploitation. Anyone have a problem with that? If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.
       —Steve Bean    May. 26 '05 - 11:56PM    #
  78. Dale,

    Flippant is “Marked by disrespectful levity or casualness; pert.” Could you please go back over post 61 and explain where or how this was flippant? I’m not being facetious. I’ve often found that people who assume automobiles are the only form of transportation read things differently. I would like to see if that’s where this is coming from.

    You wrote: “As I said, people face a number of pressures (including some of the commenters) and have not been able to make the choices you have. Acknowledging these forces (and shaping policy to work within them) only strengthens the policy. But I think you know that.”

    How many people in SE Michigan do you think have honestly tried to find a house/job close enough to take bus/bike/walk to their job/house? Or having found a good job/house, have honestly tried to then find the other close to the former? I have no qualms with anyone who has really tried and been willing to make some sacrifices to consider living closer to work or working closer to home but couldn’t do it. I think you are all copping out to say that transportation and American car-dependent lifestyle is now a fixture of the landscape and impossible to change. I don’t think most people in SE Michigan give a second thought to putting work close to home or vice-versa. Their only questions are “is it a good job”, “is it a nice place to live”, “am I getting the biggest place I can afford”, and “is the commute longer than I’m willing to accept”, with the implicit assumption that the commute will be by car. If you disagree with this, YOU explain sprawl in SE Michigan.

    We need to reduce climate change emissions by at least 60%, but every change to engine/drivetrain technology in the past has resulted in greater VMT and eventually no decrease in fuel use. Michigan is in the top five states in the country for obesity and public health authorities say people need more exercise. Transportation costs for the average family (largely automobile costs) are the second highest expense. None of these have to be this way, but people have to remove their blinders to see any solutions. Slowly removing automobile subsidies, like free parking in neighborhoods for cross-commuters, doesn’t seem like a bad step.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 08:02AM    #
  79. Location Efficient Mortgage services are available in the cities of Chicago and Seattle; Los Angeles County; and the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

    But unofficial location efficient mortgages are available everywhere. Don’t own (or need) a car and you won’t have the car payment counted against your monthly obligations by the mortgage company. Can’t get the mortgage company to see it that way? Then take out an interest-only mortgage but include principal payments in your monthly checks anyway.

    My wife and I took out a ‘virtual’ Location Efficient Mortgage in 1992. Since then, we’ve spent more on the house but far less on cars and commuting (she walks or takes the bus to work; I used to bike, now I have a home office).
       —mw    May. 27 '05 - 08:10AM    #
  80. “I think you are all copping out to say that transportation and American car-dependent lifestyle is now a fixture of the landscape and impossible to change.”

    Ken—who said this? We would not be discussing this on arborupdate if we did not think that we could change this.

    I term some of your comments flippant because (as in the first two paragraphs of #61) you disregard the forces and attitudes that influenced people’s decisions to live far from work and transit, as well as the forces that make the current transit inadequate. I don’t view people’s choice to live distant from work, etc., as just a dumb choice, but as the outcome of a long process that serves people well in some ways, poorly in others.

    Also—I VEHEMENTLY disagree with your assertion that building equity in one’s home is the best way to get ahead in life. I submit that education is far superior. I don’t know if this is beside the point or if this is related to our disagreements. The case for home equity supports our current system, wherein most people are benefitting from sprawl. Reducing the subsidies of sprawl will cause DEPRECIATION of a large portion (if not a majority) of homes in the US (except maybe those owned by landlords and Ann Arbourites and their equivalents).

    NOW, despite that contradiction, I think most of us are on the same side of this issue. Now that we have staked out our positions, hopefully we can move towards consensus.
       —Dale    May. 27 '05 - 09:30AM    #
  81. “Slowly removing automobile subsidies, like free parking in neighborhoods for cross-commuters, doesn’t seem like a bad step.”

    Of course it doesn’t look like a bad step….on it’s face. There isn’t a single soul on Arbor Update who isn’t all for walkability and mass transit.

    I look at increasing parking downtown like I do a concrete form for a tall building. In my ideal world, we would completely remove building height caps in Ann Arbor, and build several strategically placed parking garages around town.

    This would slowly increase density (and the all-important tax base) and allow for more cost effective alternative transportation solutions….and the tax base would help to provide funding for these solutions, and also allow us to create more parks if the need arises. As the density increases, you can start to remove parking garages as you would concrete forms from a tall building after the concrete cures.

    Question to you Ken. You have no doubt read Bob Dascola’s comments above regarding parking. I am also a local business owner who, to put it mildly, is pretty involved with sustainable design. Do you not believe either of us when we tell you that a lack of parking is helping to kill local business in the downtown area?

    “I don’t think most people in SE Michigan give a second thought to putting work close to home or vice-versa.”

    I don’t think that it is possible to disagree with this statement more. This is at the heart of why JS is so upset with you. You are assuming that everyone has the means to live downtown. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to live downtown. My bartenders, as an example, will pull in on average $20 an hour. Not one of them can afford to live downtown without a roommate. Not one of them is willing to get a roomate. Why? All of them, and I mean all of them, have been burned by roomates bailing out on rent, leaving them in financial trouble or with a serious blemish on their credit record.

    To start my broken record (again, sorry), citizens have refused to build up in Ann Arbor, and this has inflated the cost of living. If you have the means (as you do), you won’t really notice the difference, and therefore you don’t really see much of a problem. It is a huge problem for those who don’t have the means, as it pushes them away from the good jobs, and it makes them more reliant on cars rather than less reliant. This is counter to everything that you have proposed.

    In short, Ken, you should be screaming for more density and a removal of all building height restrictions more loudly than I am….
       —todd    May. 27 '05 - 10:17AM    #
  82. Dale,

    I didn’t write any of post 61 with disrespect toward anyone. I also didn’t call anyone’s choices dumb or bad. I would appreciate it if people would stop putting these words in my mouth. They are choices, nothing more or less. However, all choices come with consequences, and people should expect to live with the consequences of their choices. I choose to bike to work, and I deal with the consequence of frequent harassment by motorists for that choice. People who commute by car to anywhere should expect to deal with the ramifications of that choice.

    I also did not say that I want or expect anyone else to use nonmotorized transportation. What I do want is for people to stop harassing people who make that choice. I would like to have communities stop discouraging nonmotorized transportation and transit. I would prefer that non-resident commuters of any community stop expecting residents of that community to subsidize the commuter’s choices. It would be helpful for communities to stop taxing their residents to provide subsidies for commuters.

    As to who said things can’t be changed, I would site MarcR, Murph, and KGS who have all said in various ways that anything we do to reduce subsidies for motorists is too punishing for lower-income people and can’t be done. MarcR said “Poor assumption. That choice is often made for them.” and “Those people are predominantly white and able to make that choice.” in reference to people making choices of work and home proximity. Murph said “The transportation infrastructure is not set up to allow that choice to made easily, and there’s a limit as to how fast we can change things.” KGS said “To the majority of the population outside Ann Arbor, a car is a necessity, and given their living situations they’re probably right.”

    These are the primary social arguments by road developers for changing nothing. If minority and lower income people have no choice whatsoever for where to live and work, then it would be morally repugnant to change anything. If I believed that a car-based lifestyle was “necessary” except for Ann Arbor residents, that for the most part it’s only wealthy whites who have any real choices for housing/transportation, and that for the most part the transportation system doesn’t allow anything else and ending free/charging for parking for non-resident commuters in residential neighborhoods is too large a step, I would personally have to advocate for more road infrastructure. I think all of those are either flat out wrong or significant overstatements.

    BTW for MarcR’s edification, I am Cherokee, all my immediate neighbors are African American and own their houses, and I bought my house in part because my neighborhood and my kids’ school is racially diverse. I think MarcR’s statement that he “could utter a racial slur and say that I can’t help it that some people are insulted by the fact that I call said slur a term of classification.”, suggesting that saying people make choices as to where they live and work is morally equivalent to saying they have choices as to their race is repugnant.

    To answer MarcRs challenge, I would cite every Michigan community as being gutted by sprawl, even Ann Arbor, though the problem so far has been limited to downtown retail. I would cite New York NY, Seattle WA, Portland OR, Boulder CO, Madison WI, San Francisco CA, and Chicago IL as some of the communities that have concluded that increasing road infrastructure is no longer in their best interest.

    I now challenge MarcR to provide evidence supporting his three statements, “Property values are still too high for many downtown workers to live within bicycling and/or walking distance. As good as AATA is, it’s not nearly comprehensive enough for a growing municipality of this size. And, working for a property management company and knowing what I know about rental rates, your assertion about the tradeoffs involving second cars and smaller units in terms of affordability is flat-out wrong.” I would submit that bicycling distance is 40 minutes at 10mph = 6.7 miles or biking + transit that adds up to 40 minutes. That walking distance includes walking distance to transit such that total time is 40 minutes – all to downtown Ann Arbor. I expect support for all three statements.

    BTW, Todd, I didn’t appreciate your putting the words “why doesn’t everyone just do what I can do?” in my mouth, which I did not say and would never say. I do not expect anyone to do what I do, but I do expect people to, when presented with my example, stop saying that it isn’t possible. I would also urge everyone to take off their SE Michigan blinders and look around the world, where the majority of the world population gets along just fine without personal automobiles. Most people in the US choose to use personal automobiles for their convenience. That’s fine with me, so long as they are willing to accept that it is their choice, that there are costs associated with that choice, that driving an automobile is a privilege, that they must obey the laws restricting that privilege, and that they should respect the choices of others.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 11:23AM    #
  83. Ken,

    OK, I’m a little perplexed by your response. Could you kindly show me where I used the exact phrase “why doesn’t everyone just do what I do”. I don’t even imply that, let alone say it directly.

    I quoted you directly, Ken. Here’s your quote again: “I don’t think most people in SE Michigan give a second thought to putting work close to home or vice-versa.”

    To which I responded that I strongly disagreed with you, and that, and I quote, “I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to live downtown”. This statement implies that everyone I know would love to live downtown. That’s it.

    I you can show me where I put words in your mouth, I will happily apologize. I am trying to understand your position, not to poke a bear in a zoo…..

    Both JS and I would be happy to make Ann Arbor more bike friendly. We’re all for it. We’re on your side with that point. The thing is that you want to go a step further and make it more difficult to get to the downtown area in a car. This has serious repercussions, and it would serve your argument well if you would just acknowledge that.

    I’d be tickled pink if my bar was full, and the bike racks out front were packed, leaving the parking lots empty…. but I’m not holding my breath. Take away the parking lots that we have, and you can kiss this environmentally sustainable business bye-bye.
       —todd    May. 27 '05 - 11:46AM    #
  84. Ken, Todd didn’t write that, I did.

    I hope you don’t feel we have backed you into a corner—the point of discussants here, overwhelmingly, is that people need MORE choice and that ecologically responsible choices should be made MORE accessible. Why are we arguing?

    Todd has said (and Bob D has corroborated) that the ACTUAL accessibility of parking is meaningless without affecting the PERCEPTION of parking accessibility. Now people are saying the same thing about transit/walkability, etc., AND WE SHOULD BELIEVE THEM, because people act upon their perceptions of accessibility. Your testimonies and experience are part of the answer but NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME SITUATION AS YOU (nor the same tolerance or value with regards to physical effort and allocation of time).

    Finally (and somewhat tangentially), I don’t think we should be confusing the processes with the goals. My goal is not to have everyone biking or taking the bus or walking, though I think that would be great. My goal is a vibrant downtown (so I can enjoy it), an economically and ecologically sustainable and affordable urban form (so I and others can enjoy it for many years), and the availability of a full range of choices of housing, employment, recreation, and transportation (so everyone can enjoy it). This does not preclude suburban development, in my book, but (re)joins city and suburb together. I’m not interested in telling people how they HAVE to live their life (though I will lecture on how they SHOULD); some people like the suburbs and should be able to enjoy them insofar as it is also economically and ecologically sustainable (which it can be).
       —Dale    May. 27 '05 - 12:06PM    #
  85. Todd,

    I think we need more residents downtown, not more parking. As we add more residents, I am in favor of adding more parking in the same ratio as we add population. That is, a 10% increase in population citywide = a 10% increase in parking citywide. So in that regard I disagree with both you and Bob.

    I would point out to you that I said SE Michigan, and you said downtown Ann Arbor. I am talking first about a regional affect that is feeding sprawl. You are taking my points and applying them directly downtown. I completely agree that we need more population, not automobile, density in the downtown. I personally see nothing wrong with buildings with a 4-story facade and taller total heights, so long as they don’t block sunlight reaching the street trees.

    I would respond directly to your and Bob’s situation that it was a mistake to allow so much residential space in the downtown to be converted to office space. I suspect this was due to a calculation error in the past that ignored transportation costs and determined that office space is more cost-effective than residential space. I heard a prominent planning commissioner say this in the late 90s. As far as I know, all the downtown buildings used to be ground-level retail with all or nearly all housing above, until about the 50s. Newer buildings have generally been built with no residential. Since the 40s or 50s, a large percentage of that residential seems to have been converted to office space.

    There is an ongoing problem that the residents are willing to accept incremental change in building heights, but builders are only willing to consider radical changes in building heights. The builders can make their desired profits in the townships, so they don’t bother arguing over the issue and redeveloping in the downtown. When the housing bubble bursts, and if transportation costs continue to discourage long commutes, I expect developers to decide to devote more effort to building in the downtown. If they build ground level retail and upper level housing, I expect a better situation for downtown retail businesses. If they build more office space, we’ll stay in the same damaging situation for downtown retail.

    Further, if I had some influence over parking rates, I would push for a total cost structure that pays for the parking decks without using on-street revenue for them, on-street rates high enough to maintain a 10% vacancy rate, progressive up parking deck rates that reduce short-term parking rates at the expense of long-term parking but that also shoots for 10% vacancy, multiple entries costing the same as a single entry for the longer time, an expanded validation system, elimination of parking permits except for downtown residents, and a reduced rate in the parking structures for verified low-income people who demonstrate they can’t take the bus, carpool, bike, or walk. I would also push for all residential parking permits, including those downtown, to be tradable. We could also provide vouchers for the same verified low-income people to use in buying tradable parking permits. We have the technology now to do all of that except real-time pricing of on-street parking. We can always set the pricing by district and time of day and adjust the rates as needed.

    From my perspective, the emphasis on office space and the subsidies for commuters to that office space is what’s depressing both downtown retail and downtown residential. The University is also a big part of this problem. It looks to me that the best way to change this whole scenario is to reduce and eliminate the automobile subsidies that are encouraging office development. Then let the market fix all the other problems. As long as we subsidize the commuter parking, there are strong market incentives to increase office space to the detriment of everything else.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 12:09PM    #
  86. Todd,

    My apologies, it was Dale who wrote that.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 12:18PM    #
  87. Todd,

    You wrote: “The thing is that you want to go a step further and make it more difficult to get to the downtown area in a car.”

    I DID NOT SAY THAT, I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT. Sorry, this time it was you that put words in my mouth.

    There is a huge difference between ending subsidies and making it more difficult. I’m proposing not spending more community resources subsidizing one class of user over all the others, except perhaps verified low-income people. I’m not suggesting taking away any parking. As I said above, the amount of parking would increase at the same rate as Ann Arbor population increases. How is that taking away parking???
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 12:39PM    #
  88. No sweat on the first apology. I make mistakes, too.

    As to the now second charge that you aren’t saying that “you want to go a step further and make it more difficult to downtown in a car”, and that I’m once again putting words into your mouth…

    Citing your post (again), #78:

    “Slowly removing automobile subsidies, like free parking in neighborhoods for cross-commuters, doesn’t seem like a bad step.”

    Ken, I’m sure that you can see that either charging for cross-commuters to use parking on those streets, or disallowing it all together (resident-only permits) would make it “more difficult to get downtown in a car”, as I assert.

    To be clear, I’m not calling you out as some kind of heretic. My point is that your desire to curb access to downtown by car has some pretty serious consequences. We aren’t a dense enough city to do this….IMHO.
       —todd    May. 27 '05 - 12:55PM    #
  89. Todd,

    You are repeating yourself, and I will repeat that I don’t agree with you. I will agree that resident-only permits will make it more difficult for non-residents to park in those neighborhoods, but I will not agree with your statement that this would make it “more difficult to get downtown in a car.” I would agree that it would marginally reduce subsidies for SOV commuting to the area, but I don’t agree that that is the same thing as what you said. Your statement is far too broad and oversimplified, and I believe essentially incorrect, for me to agree to it.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 03:29PM    #
  90. If I read you correctly, and I’m pretty sure I do, you would agree with Todd if he added a clause that I understand is a condition of his statement, something akin to you would make it harder to get downtown by car (under current car-use practices).

    If I intuit what you are suggesting, and I’m pretty sure I do, you disagree with the statement as given because you think it would not be harder to get downtown (given different, more car-pool oriented practices).

    These differences are EASILY distinguished and it really is a waste of our time to have to parse this in such a fashion, when the point is that you’re both pretty much on the same side.
       —Dale    May. 27 '05 - 03:44PM    #
  91. While this thread has produced lots of good information and discussion. I feel that we have drifted far from the original topic. Clearly parking is linked to a number of other issues like congestion, land use, affordable housing, air quality, economic viability, etc. We have explored a lot of those issues already. As we approach post #100 I’m hoping we can pull back to the starting point and recognize (if not agree on) a set of issues and potential recommendations pertaining to residential parking permits.
    In an effort to summarize and highlight the main issues that refer specifically to RPP, I’ll list the following. Maybe others could correct my errors or include additions preferably without too much “he said that I said that she said…”

    Main topics

    1. Murph claims that driveways are a private appropriation of the public realm because they create private parking at the expense of freely accessible public street parking. Murph invokes the Prisoner’s Dillema. One of Murph’s assumptions, supported by KGS, is that streets are public space and as such should be available to the public. This was refuted with claims that residents have every right to use their private property for vehicle storage and that private drives increase total available parking even if a larger percentage of that parking is private.
    Ken Clark argues that neighborhood residents have a right to local street parking because they pay the taxes to maintain thes city streets and originally owned these streets and deeded them to the city.
    I’ll comment here that perhaps once the streets have been deeded to the city the previous owners should not make claims of ownership or expect special privilages. Yet, the ability to access one’s home from the street includes more than private parking. Issues of easement and safety concerns may play into the importants of permitting curb cuts.

    2. The original article refers both to commuters and students causing parking problems. In regards to students, mw points the finger at “student junkers” and suggests restricting overnight parking to residents only. This seems to address concern by AAIO and others that the intention is to remove unattractive cars instead of increase parking for residents. Further Lisa recommends suggests, with much agreement from others, that this problem could be solved by providing long-term parking for students. Also included in this topic is the question made so popular by the lyrical musings of Mr. Rogers, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” While the RRP application requires a deliniation by neighborhood association, “Parking neighborhoods seem to be described differently and more amorphous than politically defined neighborhoods. The strongest example being a homeowner who is not allowed to park accross the street from her house because of neighborhood association lines.

    3. Todd suggests that the residential parking permit (RPP) program allows residents to prevent outsiders from parking in their neighborhood. I offered some analysis on information provided by the city to suggest that RPP is supported by signatures to remove outsider parking, but not supported by permit purchases suggesting that the residents were not motivated by a need for more street parking as much as a desire not to have their street parked on. I also offered some calculations that point to a large public subsidy of these programs and a program design that encourages low participation. The overall suggestion here is that the RPP program may not be accomplishing its intended goal. The depends, however, on wether that goal is to provide necessary parking for residents or to protect the resitential way of life (or atmosphere) of neighborhoods from the impact of parking demand in the nearby downtown.

    4. KGS points out that the neighborhoods provide a parking bank that accomodates commuters who will not pay to park downtown (I’m intentionally avoiding the question of whether they CAN pay the cost here). I believe this is the main intersection between the parking structures downtown and the RPP program. Pushing commuters out of neighborhoods increases the demand elsewhere. Thus, Todd’s point that the same people who don’t want a new parking structure are creating the need for one with RPP programs. He suggests building more structures to take advantage of the increase in demand. I argued that parking structures are not money makers and, when pushed, was not able to fully back that statement up. I’m still looking for evidence that no structures are successful without subsidy of some kind. This point is the main intersection with affordability, housing location choices, and eventually automobile subsidy. Many good points were made on these topics that I chose not to include in this summary because they do not relate directly to RPP programs.

    5. Is there a parking problem in Ann Arbor? Bob D. heads up the affirmative on this debate using his long history of hearing the complaints as evidence. Bob K requests hard evidence that this is the case. However, there is no data to offer. I argue that the multiple perspectives on this issue limit the usefulness of arguements based on hard data. Murph also points out that collection of such data has a cost associated with it that can be quite high.

    6. Efforts to simplify the problem. A bunch of solutions were suggested. Bob K suggested charging the real cost of parking in all situations, $400 for a RPP and $2,200 annually in structures. I argued that this would result in a flood of street meter parking violations and further would not solve the systemic problem of the RRP program of clearing out parking that is not reused.
    Ken had an interesting suggestion that unfortunately was not further addressed. Give every resident a parking permit, provide parking for that volume, and then open up the market. Aloow the permits to be transferred and increase the number of permits to reflect residential growth. I don’t think that a parking system based wholly on residential population would work in a town so dependent on tourism, but it may be a suggestion we could build on.

    The big issues appear to be:
    how does RPP affect the rest of the downtown parking and people’s access to downtown?
    does RPP accomplish what it was intended to do or is the system being used in an unintended way?
    do residents have parking privilages above and beyond others on the streets near their home?
    should an RPP program be subsidized by the general fund?
    does the city owe some protection to the neighborhoods near downtown as the city grows and promotes density?

    In reading previous threads I felt that the discussion brought up great points and that it was a terrible shame that the ideas were not compiled into a more readable form for further distribution. I often find it hard to get someone to read through 100 posts on a thread in order to get the basics of an arguement, especially when heated arguments and personal attacks interupt the flow. I think this is an issue that AU has put more thought into than any other group. Is it possible to produce a cohesive statement for distribution out of this thread and has that been done before?

    looking forward to amendments,
       —Scott TenBrink    May. 27 '05 - 04:11PM    #
  92. Scott,

    Thanks for sorting through all of the crap (namely, mine).

    Now I don’t feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, since no one has brought up RPP for businesses, so….....

    It seems like some here seem to think that residents are entitled to a spot on the street that they live on. Ken points to the taxes that they pay should warrant a spot.

    My question is, are business along streets guaranteed spots? The millage that I pay is substantially higher than what a homeowner pays. Does this mean I get more spaces than a homeowner? How many? Should we tie the number to how many square feet we occupy? Or how about tieing it to the taxes we pay, as I suggested? Or for a restaurant, how about to how many seats it has?

    If we guarantee businesses these types of spots, do you think that we have enough street parking to cover even a single space per business? I sure don’t.

    Or, Ken, are you suggesting that a business is entitled to zero spaces?
       —todd    May. 27 '05 - 05:12PM    #
  93. Todd, I don’t think on-street spots for individual businesses would make sense. For one thing, customers visit multiple businesses. It would make more sense to look at the business district as a whole. (Maybe that’s a single business in some cases.)

    As for residential, I think it’s more useful to look at it in terms of subsidies to the users, not in terms of privileges for the owner of the permit.

    I also want to thank you for your effort, Scott.
       —Steve Bean    May. 27 '05 - 05:52PM    #
  94. Todd, and Dale,

    Actually, I would change Todd’s statement significantly before I would agree to it. Looking at where these neighborhoods are in relation to downtown, I have a hard time believing changes to parking in these areas would have any real affect on downtown. Given the location, it seems to me that the residents are right and the parking is being taken by students and University commuters, neither of which are headed downtown anyway.

    Second, Todd’s statement claims that it causes a difficulty getting to the downtown by car, when what I believe it could be more accurate to say it makes it more difficult to park the car when you get there. I see those two things as different, since I have on multiple occasions dropped people off and parked somewhere I knew wouldn’t be a problem.

    Third, even if this district were downtown, I would expect a good deal of the changed parking to shift types, change from on to off-street, or disappear altogether. Some of the people parking in this area will simply move their car more frequently, hoping to get in under the 2hr limit, becoming shorter-term parkers in multiple locations. Some of the people will find a location where they can rent an off-street space or cram more parking into existing off-street parking. Some of the students will decide it isn’t worth keeping the car around and get rid of it. If the permits were tradable, a good number of them would be traded.

    In response to Todd’s recent question, I don’t see why any property owner, residential or business, shouldn’t receive permit parking in front of their property in a permit parking program on a street that allows on-street parking.
       —Ken Clark    May. 27 '05 - 08:00PM    #
  95. #91-Bravo Scott! Thanks for sorting this out.
       —Bob Dascola    May. 27 '05 - 11:26PM    #
  96. scott, that was terrific; thanks.

    i think the RPP program is misunderstood. its purpose is not to provide parking spaces for the residents. the purpose of the RPP program is to provide parking spaces for the residents’ plumber, sister, carpet cleaner, hello faz, DHL, etc. (that explains the paucity of permit applications.)

    before the RPP program was implemented on the OWS, the streets around the eaton plant and argus bldg. were FULL. now it is typical for one side of the street to be half empty.

    parking problems downtown and on campus spill over onto adjacent neighborhoods. the RPP program is an effective response.
       —peter honeyman    May. 27 '05 - 11:40PM    #
  97. Offtopic remark: any chance of moving to software with more sophisticated threading? With 100 comments to an article, a little more structure might help….
       —Bruce Fields    May. 28 '05 - 12:44AM    #
  98. Steve, you suggest that we need to “look at the business district as a whole” for parking. I submit to you . . . the DDA! Within the DDA’s bounds, off-street parking requirements in the zoning are waived, and the DDA provides a pool of parking for the downtown businesses and residents to draw from. The DDA’s system has about 7,000 spaces; if all of the downtown uses had their own spaces, as required by the zoning code, there would be something like 15,000 spaces in the same area. (Except that it wouldn’t be the same area; it would be spread out thinner in order to fit the parking in.)

    This is my point about RPP as an appropriation of the public realm: a public parking spot, that anybody can use (if only for a price) can serve a much larger share of the parking desire than can a space that only a small number of people can use. We need to make the most efficient possible use of our available parking, in order to minimize the amount of parking that needs to be available. Streets that sit half-empty in the OWS within walking distance of downtown jobs are a waste.

    What I’d suggest is a permit-parking program that anybody can buy into. Designate large chunks of the street permit-only, and let residents buy permits, let commuters buy permits, let students buy permits and camp their cars their, unused, for weeks at a time – unrestricted by residency. Maintain some spaces on each street as two-hour parking. Perhaps with meters, since that’s the only way to enforce two-hour parking with anything approaching cost-effectiveness.

    As another thought, Princeton has structures for student car storage. As I understand it, you drive your car in in September, get a receipt, and can retrieve your car the week of Thanksgiving, the week before Christmas, the week before Spring Break, and the week before the semester ends. This keeps the students off the streets, keeps them from using their cars “just because it’s there”, and still recognizes the fact that, for some students, bringing a car to college is the only way to get home to family for holidays. This would have to be “subsidized”! No student would pay the cost of structure construction for car storage that was totally inaccessible – they’d just keep parking on the street. But give them an option that was secure and not oppressively priced, and you could start making street parking progressively more difficult without balancing the parking system on the backs of the students.
       —Murph    May. 28 '05 - 10:53AM    #
  99. Murph, I was thinking citywide, because I think that’s what Ken was suggesting. I was also thinking about transferrable permits, since that’s the context in which Todd was posing his questions to Ken. Maybe Todd was thinking in terms of the current RPP system, though.

    “Streets that sit half-empty in the OWS within walking distance of downtown jobs are a waste.”

    Yes, and yet we don’t want to make that parking a permanent option for commuters, do we? Or do you only mean for city residents? Seems like a line would have to be drawn to put those spaces either into the business district or the residential district. Which would it be? If the former, then I think you’re perspective is better suited. If the latter, I still wonder if Ken is onto something with transferrable permits (for which, again, I’d separate residential from business district and consider citywide. Still just thinking, here.)

    “a public parking spot, that anybody can use (if only for a price) can serve a much larger share of the parking desire than can a space that only a small number of people can use.”

    I wonder if you’re assuming something about who could use a transferrable permit space. I suspect, though, that you’re thinking in terms of current RPP rules.

    Ken, can you expand on your thinking on transferrables so we can have something more to work with?
       —Steve Bean    May. 28 '05 - 12:08PM    #
  100. “Designate large chunks of the street permit-only, and let residents buy permits, let commuters buy permits, let students buy permits and camp their cars their, unused, for weeks at a time – unrestricted by residency.”

    Murph, sorry, too much to absorb and process at once. Now I see that you had already answered one of my questions.

    Would city residents pay less than out-of-town commuters? Seems like we’d want some kind of disincentive for commuting by car. Even commuters from in town as well, for reasons other than efficient use of parking spaces.
       —Steve Bean    May. 28 '05 - 12:22PM    #
  101. murph,

    every neighborhood needs parking, whether it’s oxbridge, the OWS, or downtown. but the needs differ. to a student or commuter (or urban planner?), streets that sit quarter-empty (if you don’t mind me correcting your math) are a waste of precious parking space. but to a resident, it looks like a resource vital to living in the area (described earlier: plumber, etc.).

    your call for “a public parking spot that anybody can use” is indeed answered by the RPP program: empty parking spaces are open to any neighborhood visitor. (we’ve established that the use of permits is negligible.)

    curb space in residential neighborhoods may look fungible to commuters, students, or urban planners. not so for residents.
       —peter honeyman    May. 28 '05 - 01:18PM    #
  102. Bruce said: Offtopic remark: any chance of moving to software with more sophisticated threading? With 100 comments to an article, a little more structure might help….
    —Bruce Fields

    I’ve thought about this and go back and forth. For most of our discussions, I think the flat format is vastly superior. Admittedly, this discussion and a few others have been a bit unwieldly as they grow in length. Design for Community strongly advocates against threaded discussions on sites like these for a lot of good reasons. Something to chew on…

    I’m thinking about taking Scott’s above points and getting them in to the wiki for some community refinement there, as he proposes. Wiki’s are designed for collaboratively authored documents, so this might just work.
       —Scott T.    May. 28 '05 - 03:54PM    #
  103. Bob & Todd (respectable local business owners) claim a frequent complaint of their customers is parking. IMO, people complain about parking at a volume disproportionate to the actual problem.

    For example, when I was a student at the commuter-centric Oakland University students regularly complained about the ample free parking because they couldn’t always find a spot in the lot nearest their class, even if there was always a spot within a 1/4 mile walk of any point on campus.

    Another example is the new Whole Foods store on Washtenaw. I go there frequently because my girlfriend works there, and I almost never have trouble finding a parking spot. The lot is tight, requiring careful navigation and some patience to wait for cars coming & going, but rarely is it ever actually full. People endlessly complain about the parking there, but the store is always packed and is making mad loot for Whole Foods HQ. So, just because your customers complain doesn’t mean there is really a problem—after all, they’re still your customers.

    That said, I’m not saying this is necessarily the case—but customer complaints by themselves are insufficient evidence that there is actually a lack of parking, and that it’s driving people away.

    (And this from someone who, so far, has no real problem with the proposed structure at first and william).
       —Scott T.    May. 28 '05 - 04:02PM    #
  104. Scott,

    I appreciate your synopsis. I haven’t done this here before, so I’ll propose changes as I would for a city plan. I have a habit of writing things painfully literally, attempting to avoid implications. Please read these proposals in that way and do not assume I have a motive beyond the statement.

    For Item 1:
    Drop current section for me and replace with the following:
    “Ken Clark points out that in most cases the streets were deeded to the city with the driveways in place, and in almost all other cases the city permitted the property owner to make the curb cut for the driveway. Therefore in nearly all cases, the City has accepted the driveway. By state law, the City owns almost all public streets, so the City’s acceptance of the driveways means Murph is in fact incorrect in saying the driveway is a private taking of a public good. Further, state law gives municipalities sole and complete discretion to decide parking policy on their streets, and residential parking policies and all other municipal parking policies have been continuously upheld in courts as a legitimate right of municipalities. Additionally, neighborhood residents’ claims to local street parking are bolstered by the fact that they pay additional taxes to maintain these city streets.”

    Could you please rewrite the first sentence of your additional statement in a way that can be confirmed or challenged with facts?

    For Item 4:
    Please alter or provide support for the statement “Pushing commuters out of neighborhoods increases the demand elsewhere.” First, read Remove it and they will disappear. Parking demand, like general transportation demand, is not fixed. There is a demand curve for transportation and transportation services just as for other goods and services. A more supportable statement might be “Pushing commuters out of neighborhoods may increase the demand elsewhere.” Another acceptable alternative might be “Pushing commuters out of neighborhoods seems likely to increase the demand elsewhere to some degree.”

    For Item 5:
    Please add:
    “Ken Clark pointed out that the DDA-funded 1998 University of Michigan study of parking in Ann Arbor indicates that Ann Arbor has significantly more parking than peer communities. While the previous statements are anecdotal, these data are more empirical. This suggests that we may not have a parking shortage, but rather a lack of market-based pricing and subsidies that encourage excessive parking demand, particularly commuter parking demand.”

    For Item 6:
    Actually, that isn’t quite what I proposed, but it’s close enough and an interesting way to pose the point. I would appreciate it if you would rewrite your last sentence in a form that can be supported or refuted.

    For the “big issues” section:
    Please change the question:
    “do residents have parking privilages above and beyond others on the streets near their home?”
    to
    “Do non-residents have any legal rights to park in neighborhoods and do residents have any greater legal rights to parking on the streets near their homes?”
    I see this as a largely settled legal issue, but others have indicated that they are not interested in the legal issue.

    Please add the question:
    “Are the concerns about commuters parking in neighborhoods indicative of bigger questions about commuting and parking in Ann Arbor?”
       —Ken Clark    May. 28 '05 - 04:31PM    #
  105. Alright, that’s it. As soon as I’m done with my little work-sprint this weekend (it’s overtime time for me right now), I’m putting this thing in a wiki and teaching you all how to use it. None of this “proposal to amend paragraph three” crap… (unless someone beats me to it).
       —Scott T.    May. 28 '05 - 08:00PM    #
  106. Scott,

    You might try “Accept”, “Accept with comment”, “Reject”, “Reject with comment”, “OK”, or “I’d rather not.” I didn’t ask you to redraft the synopsis, I just proposed changes. As the original drafter, you have some rights to accept and reject changes, don’t you? I.e. you made the motion, I’m proposing friendly amendments, you, and usually your second, can agree that they are friendly or consider them hostile. I can make the changes if you accept them.

    Ken (secretary of two organizations; chair and vice-chair of two others; general Robert’s Rules, participatory democracy, and process fiend)
       —Ken Clark    May. 29 '05 - 07:27AM    #
  107. Ken, you’re talking to two different Scotts—Scott TenBrink and Scott Trudeau (Scott T.) I still don’t understand why people use their initials here. It’s not like they have to type their name each time.
       —Steve Bean    May. 29 '05 - 10:16AM    #
  108. Scott Trudeau is always “Scott T.”
       —Dale    May. 29 '05 - 10:20AM    #
  109. Yeah, I typed it in once and didn’t think much about it… Anyway, sorry about the confusion.
       —Scott Trudeau    May. 29 '05 - 12:07PM    #
  110. I kind of doubt anyone is following this thread anymore, but I have a few interesting things to add (and an apology).

    First, the whole “privileged people” thing made me wonder. I had the feeling that the rest of Washtenaw County is no less well off than Ann Arbor residents. If that’s right, than on average, people could live in AA if they wanted to, again on average, but they chose not to. Others expressed the opinion that Ann Arbor is higher income than the rest of the county, so that many or most people can’t afford to live in Ann Arbor, and don’t really have that choice.

    So I looked things up at the census website. You can use the American Factfinder to query by different locations and location types, and some of the information is economic. In particular, you can query by Ann Arbor City, and by Washtenaw County. The economic information includes median household and median family incomes (a household is all the people living under one roof, a family is 2 or more related people living under one roof), as well as income breakdowns. The economic information for the 2000 census data is as of 1999.

    The result? The median family income for Ann Arbor was $71,293. The median family income for Washtenaw County was $70,393. You read that right, the median income for Ann Arbor resident families was $900 per year more than for Washtenaw as a whole. Taking Ann Arbor out of the picture, the median income for the county falls about 80% of the way into the $50k-$75k range, or pretty much the same place, around $70,000. The percentages by income grouping also match closely.

    That means that though some people have a perception that city residents are more well off than out-city residents, the census figures don’t bear that out. That suggests that people who work in Ann Arbor but don’t live in Ann Arbor are choosing to do so. There are other people at the same income level that have chosen to live in AA.

    Now the apology. At the end of post 35 (my first on this subject), I closed with “Beyond that, they shouldn’t expect handouts of free parking on residential streets.” I really had no idea that the definition of “handout” was something given to the poor. I thought it was something that one person gave freely to someone they didn’t know, as in leaflet handouts. I grew up lower class, and was dense enough not to know that there was a stigma attached to handouts. My apologies for my poor choice of words and for my insensitive and unintended connotation.
       —Ken Clark    May. 30 '05 - 11:34PM    #
  111. Think about the numbers, Ken. The median is skewed lower in Ann Arbor city because of low income students.
       —Dale    May. 31 '05 - 07:55AM    #
  112. To amplify that, since I have a little more time before I have to leave for work, the same sources indicate 36+ percent of A2 city being ages 20-34 (41,700). For the county (including Ann Arbor), it’s 27% (81,000). A large part of that cohort are poor undergrads and grad students, and, being in A2 proper, skew the median income lower in A2 than in the county, meaning it’s not appropriate to compare the two without adjustment.
       —Dale    May. 31 '05 - 08:16AM    #
  113. To elaborate on Dale’s note, “The median is skewed lower in Ann Arbor City because of low income students, who are capable of living in Ann Arbor because they’re willing to live in single, sometimes shared rooms in large, often run-down houses. Most people over the age of 25, especially those with families, aren’t willing to make the choice to live in Ann Arbor if it means living like a student.” I’ll out myself as one of those students who qualifies as “very low income”. On my own, rather than as part of a two-person “household”, I could pretty easily qualify for an SRO unit at the Y on my income, and I manage to live within walking distance of downtown by merit of not owning a car and living in half a room in a house with 8 other people. (Whom I like, so it’s not a big problem.) If I wanted to live by myself, at this price, I’d be living significantly further out.

    Additionally, there are other parts of the County that skew the County-wide upwards; Scio and Pittsfield aren’t particularly poor-off, but try the Manchester or Grass Lake areas.

    I’m not denying that 40-minute car commutes are a choice, mind you, even in the Ann Arbor area, just that, for a lot of people, the choice to live within walk/bike/bus distance of things involves living in the modern equivalent of tenements, with only a few instantiations of such capable of being socially conscious enough to organize as reasonably functional co-ops (not necessarily referring to the ICC) rather than ramshackle slums that embitter people towards ever sharing any kind of space with anybody ever again. Seems kind of ironic that the “choice” to share space for economy’s sake during college reinforces the societal demand for single-family homes with yards, doesn’t it? But how many “good roommate” stories have you ever heard? How many times have you heard people say, “Man, I just can’t live by myself anymore. I need to get a roommate. Oh, and I suppose it might be cheaper that way, too”? For many people, the choice to live close-in is seen as a choice-of-last-resort – if we’re going to hope to build neighborhoods and cities , we’re going to have to find new ways of creating them besides using economic force to cram people together.

    Which, of course, brings us back to the same ol’ debate. I’ll hold it for us now. “Density is bad – it will in all cases destroy the sense of place which makes Ann Arbor a good place to live.” “Density and diversity of uses is part of creating the place that people want to live, and providing things that community can be built around.” There, now we don’t need to have that debate again here.
       —Murph    May. 31 '05 - 08:34AM    #
  114. Really, I suppose we could spend the next 100 posts throwing census statistics back and forth and attempting to draw conclusions from them.

    Allow me to attempt to head that off by summarizing the economics:

    “There exist economic incentives for long commutes into Ann Arbor. Some of these involve the relatively high cost of housing within Ann Arbor, including the much slower growth of housing stock within Ann Arbor relative to much of the surrounding area. Some of these involve the artificially low cost of car transportation, including subsidies for parking, roads, and gasoline at all levels. The City of Ann Arbor has close to no influence over either the cost of housing outside of Ann Arbor, nor the general social condition of artificially cheap driving.”

    Fair? In fact, if you don’t agree, I’ve slapped that paragraph up on the AU wiki as Economic Incentives to Sprawl , and you can go add your two cents there, since this thread will eventually (and mercifully) fall silent.

    Oh, and I have always preferred threaded comments. “Flat comments build community.” Bah. By making conversations so voluminous and mashed together that people are intimidated by them?
       —Murph    May. 31 '05 - 08:48AM    #
  115. Threads can kill shorter conversations and most of our conversations are short. I’m going to think about this one. It doesn’t look like TextPattern supports threaded comments at this point so I’d either have to hack the code myself (and then fix it when it finally does get threaded comments, which are supposedly “in the works”) or we’d need to shift platforms to something that can do this out of the box. I’ve noticed all of my grand efforts to overhaul the site have been halted, but incremental improvements have worked well—and since there’s no way to get to threaded comments incrementally, except by waiting, I’ll hold off. Unless a platform switch is called for at the hackathon this weekend. Could we completely redeploy this site on Drupal in one long day of work?
       —Scott Trudeau    May. 31 '05 - 09:49AM    #
  116. Well, you know more about both TextPattern and Drupal than I, so I won’t answer your last question. And, really, it’s not a huge priority for me; I just like whining about it. Unless we have other pressing reasons for a platform change, I think there are better things we could work on.
       —Murph    May. 31 '05 - 10:06AM    #
  117. Dale, Murph,

    Sorry, try again. The income figures throw out data from group housing, like dorms, and the family figures only include households where two or more related people live in one housing unit. The commuting figures also throw out group housing, or we’d have a much larger percentage of commutes by walking and biking. One of the reasons I reported the family median income and breakdown is because it shouldn’t be affected by single students living in Ann Arbor.

    Explain how the breakdown by income group for Ann Arbor closely matches the County if Ann Arbor’s numbers are skewed by the remaining students. Also, Ann Arbor isn’t the only community that has students living in it. It’s likely that other communities in Washtenaw County are similarly “skewed”, so that there is little or no bias overall.

    Finally, for the students that were recorded in the household and family statistics, they are living here, aren’t they? Does the fact that they are students living in Ann Arbor make them somehow unworthy of being counted as someone living here?

    A more likely explanation is that the rest of Washtenaw County is far wealthier than some people think. It doesn’t look from these census figures as though Ann Arbor is any more privileged than the rest of the county.
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 11:01AM    #
  118. My bad, Ken—I interpreted “family” as “household.” My point was that students aren’t in the housing market by and large.
       —Dale    May. 31 '05 - 11:32AM    #
  119. Ok, but, Ken, weren’t you specifically critical of people who choose to live far from their downtown Ann Arbor jobs, and then drive in? Your data say nothing about the mean/median income of that population.

    Also, the aggregate data you provide disguises a lot of variation within the county. Just using the plain, straight-up census numbers comparing Ypsi to Ann Arbor…

    Ypsi
    Med. hh income: $28, 610
    Med. family income: $40, 793
    Per capita: $16,692
    Median homeowner costs (with a mortgage): $1011

    12.3% has an income over $75000

    AA
    Med. hh income: $46,299
    Med. family income: $71,293
    Per capita: $26,419

    Median homeowner costs (with a mortgage): $1369

    29.4% has an income over $75000

    So, I’m not sure we’re any closer to demonstrating that anyone in the county who works in downtown Ann Arbor could choose to live there.
       —Sarah    May. 31 '05 - 11:56AM    #
  120. There are certainly plenty of wealthy people living in the Townships and the smaller cities, that is true. One needs only walk down Chelsea’s Main Street to know that – it epitomizes the AAiO cry, “You can’t eat scented candles!” even better than downtown Ann Arbor does.
       —Murph    May. 31 '05 - 12:05PM    #
  121. Steve asked me to elaborate on transferable parking permits. I hadn’t considered thinking of this as a community-wide thing, but that’s an interesting idea. I would also urge people who consider anything we do in Ann Arbor to be elitist to hold their tongues for a minute, since this would more likely be a very progressive system.

    Here’s how it would work. For each residential property in Ann Arbor outside the DDA, the city alots one on-street parking space. If the property only has street frontage on a no-parking street, the City allots a space in a nearby neighborhood with space. For residences within the DDA, each residence gets one permit for a parking structure, lot, or nearby neighborhood, (unless their building provides parking for them?). For each non-residential property outside the DDA, one space is allotted where possible in front of the property. The permit parking in the parking structures should at least be converted to part of this system, however (better yet, make all parking structure rates hourly and charge based on congestion.)

    Every permit is tradable. That means that everyone with a permit can decide to either use the permit or sell it in an open market, such as eBay. The city government can provide vouchers worth some amount in the bidding for any groups it wants to give assistance to. Everyone is free to decide all the details of the bids they are willing to accept, except that certain forms of discrimination are disallowed. Some percentage of the proceeds would go back to the City.

    I would submit that really wealthy people would not put their permits up for bid, but would keep them to provide for maintenance people, etc. Everyone could decide to sell their permit to increase their income, making it easier to afford to live in AA, or choose to use it themselves. In this way, we give people a visible financial incentive to consider not needing that parking space.

    There are other advantages. Students could bid on this market for spaces in distant neighborhoods, paying low prices, and having a permit that insures their car won’t be towed. Commuters could park in neighborhoods, as long as they pay the market price for the parking space. People living closer to downtown would receive the highest prices for their permits, making it easier to afford downtown housing for people who won’t need a car while there. Businesses could buy permits for their employees in nearby areas.

    In this way, permit parking rates would be set by the market. Locations close to transit would be more valuable, encouraging developers to develop near transit lines, and encouraging the use of transit. Students would have cheap, but not necessarily convenient, parking in the outskirts of town. They would have the added advantage of a resident nearby to watch over their car, since safe parking would receive a slightly higher premium. Commuters would face the costs of their parking up-front, and wouldn’t have to worry about being ticketed.

    Comments?

    BTW, I have an on-street parking space available for one student car, in a quiet neighborhood off the AATA #1 route. Free, of course!
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 12:10PM    #
  122. Wait a minute.

    I thought that you were against state (city) subsidized parking? Now you make a lengthy proposal where the city gives public property to residents, and allows them to profit from the space if they wish?!

    Further, it sure sounds to me like you have acknowledged that there is a serious shortage of spots in Ann Arbor proper, to the point where you have assessed an acutal monetary value to a single space. In other words, if there wasn’t a shortage of parking, what in the heck would we need this complicated plan for?

    Am I reading this correctly, or did I miss something? Sincere question.
       —todd    May. 31 '05 - 01:08PM    #
  123. Sarah,

    I would argue that people who currently live in sprawl and commute into Ann Arbor chose that arrangement. I am not arguing that that was their first choice, but rather that either it was their first choice, they decided that they would rather make fewer housing or other sacrifices and drive into Ann Arbor each day as opposed to taking a smaller house for their money in Ann Arbor and possibly making other lifestyle changes, or they chose a job in Ann Arbor though there are other jobs available outside Ann Arbor. I recall being critical of arguments that others never had an option to live here or work somewhere else, and of expectations of people who chose to take jobs here but not to live here and expected that residents would provide subsidies to make their commute cheap and easy.

    What is your point with the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor data? 42% of the families in Ann Arbor made less than $50k. Are you saying that they don’t exist? 696 families in Ann Arbor made less than $10k per year. Are you saying they don’t exist? What income group are you saying lives in sprawl and can’t afford to live here, and aren’t there examples in the income breakdown that show that there are already people living here with that income level? Ann Arbor’s income breakdown already mirrors that of the county. Do you feel it’s necessary for Ann Arbor incomes to equal those of Ypsilanti? Why? Should Barton Hills work to make its median family income equal to that of Ypsilanti? It’s obvious that many of you are really asking for massive social change, but why are you insisting on blaming Ann Arbor residents for national economic policy that we voted against?

    Finally, I didn’t say that anyone who wanted to live in downtown Ann Arbor could. More words put in my mouth. I said “No one has to live in sprawl and commute to Ann Arbor. They make the choice to live in sprawl and they should pay the prices for their decision. The residents of Ann Arbor are under no obligation to make living in sprawl and cross-commuting cheap and convenient. People who choose to live far from work should expect to pay for gas, insurance, the costs of their automobile, a significant time cost in traffic and congestion, and significant market rate costs for parking their car when they get there.”
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 01:18PM    #
  124. Interesting. Issuing, tracking, and enforcing permits would involve not-insignificant costs . . . Would those be covered by retaining and selling permits to all of the spaces not issued one per household? If the costs are on the order of ScottTB’s $126 / permit cited above, I wouldn’t want to bankrupt the city with a 47k housing units * $100 startup cost ($4.7 million, just counting the residential permits), especially since the vast majority of the permits would sell for less than that, and, therefore, most households wouldn’t be willing to pay nearly that amount for their issued permit. (The politically feasible price point for issuing the permits is probably “free”.)

    I’d prefer a plan that was explicitly money-making for the city (rather than individual citizens), with the requirement that all revenues go to transit improvements. Gradually expand permit-only parking districts outwards from the downtown area (push it out 2-3 blocks per year, perhaps). Issue one permit free to any residential unit that has no off-street parking (if you do have off-street parking, your curb-cut counts as your one free permit space); one or two to every non-residential use that has no off-street parking. Create a tiered price structure, pushing the cheapskates gradually further out. Put the revenue into a fund for express service to outlying communities – with the money used for matching grants to whatever communities put up their own money towards AATA operating revenues.

    And, as long as we’re talking pies in the sky, pumpkin is my flavor of choice.
       —Murph    May. 31 '05 - 01:36PM    #
  125. Proposals along these lines “solves” some problems related to on-street “storage” parking and parking on-street by commuters, but doesn’t help visitors to town who use the unmetered streets nearest downtown or campus to park on while just in town for an evening or a weekend. So this plan might have a significant negative impact for downtown busines and/or drive up demand for more temporary downtown parking at meters and parking structures.
       —Scott Trudeau    May. 31 '05 - 01:49PM    #
  126. Todd,

    First, things don’t have to be in shortage for people to decide that we should consider market-based mechanisms to determine pricing. There is no shortage of facial tissue in America, but we still use market pricing to decide what it’s worth. In fact, if we as a nation were to decide tomorrow that facial tissue is so important to the national welfare that it should be given away free, we would very quickly create a shortage, since no one would be willing to produce it for free. Similarly, if we make parking subsidized or free, we shouldn’t be surprised to have full utilization of parking and people clamoring for more parking. Ever heard anyone around here calling for more parking? It doesn’t mean there’s a shortage, it means that we’re underpricing a resource.

    Second, you’re right there are some subsidies in that idea, but it would generally remove existing subsidies. The idea would be to first restrict a property owner’s claim on parking in front of their property to only one spot. I can’t imagine many people would consider that a subsidy. Then, it would allow people to sell that parking place to the highest bidder. That would make parking more expensive, wouldn’t it? You could certainly argue that this idea would subsidize people living in Ann Arbor, since anyone who has a permit and sold it would have more money to apply to housing.

    You are right about two things, however. For a resident who currently has no residential parking permit, they would have such a permit under that idea as proposed. You’re right, that is a form of subsidy. However, if the city owns all parking permits, and everyone has to buy one, I doubt anyone in the city would consider the idea. I suppose we could always go a step farther, sell all permits on the market, and give all residents a voucher for some amount. I suppose that works, but again, I doubt people would go for it. Sounds like a back-door tax increase.

    Second, this idea does have a clause that would give parking vouchers, that would offset some of the cost of a spot, to low-income non-residents who demonstrate need to park in Ann Arbor. That’s clearly a subsidy. I think these vouchers should be tradable as well (essentially the person could waive the voucher for cash if something changes in their life), so we’re left with a subsidy for a low-income non-resident who demonstrates they need the parking space, even though they still won’t be able to afford a primo spot. Every market scheme needs some safety nets.
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 01:52PM    #
  127. For Scott’s concern, I would compare the results of the existing RPP and the citywide idea. Tick off enough neighborhoods with non-residents taking their parking and we’ll end up with all the neighborhoods adjacent to downtown permit only. If visitors take many near-to-downtown spots, they’ll be in trouble with RPPs everywhere.

    One way to deal with this is to put meters on any excess parking near downtown. Make the parking spots free for someone with a permit for that spot, but hourly parking for people without permits. Unfortunately meters aren’t free. Another way is to assign downtown residents permit spaces outside the parking decks and in nearby neighborhoods. Not as convenient for anyone, but frees up space in the structures for more visitors. Some political juggling of priorities would be needed.
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 02:10PM    #
  128. Ken,

    I admire your enthusiasm and your desire to get rid of cars….

    ...But don’t you see that this would KILL local businesses downtown? Is this not a concern for you?

    We pay a disproportionately higher amount of taxes, and yet you want to restrict our customer’s access to our goods and services, while rewarding homeowners for owning a house in the downtown area. Why would you reward one and not the other? We need these “cross-commuters” if we are to survive.

    The really bad aspect of your plan is that it penalizes local businesses who make Ann Arbor more centralized.

    Do you not see that your plan would simply drive business out to areas of Wash County that has private and therefore “free” parking? Why is this a good thing in your mind?
       —todd    May. 31 '05 - 03:28PM    #
  129. Todd,

    Why is it that anyone who says that motorists should pay the costs of driving cars is automatically assumed to hate cars?

    For the record – I DON’T HATE CARS – I actually like cars and think they are important for our transportation system and our country. I think every family should have access to at least one car. Pardon the shouting, but it really pisses me off when people constantly accuse me of wanting to get rid of cars. There’s a world of difference between hating cars and thinking they are used too much and their use is too heavily subsidized.

    I wish you would back up and look at what I wrote about downtown parking rates. I think short-term rates should be lower! I think short-term parking is subsidizing long-term parking. I think we should expand parking validation to make short-term parking for shoppers nearly free. Please re-read post 85.

    I don’t understand how you equate downtown parking full of people who largely drive in, take a spot all day, then drive out again without spending a dime with downtown parking full of people a quarter of whom are getting parking for free because they are shopping. The parking is still full, but more of the people are actually there to buy something. I can’t imagine Briarwood being happy with a full parking lot of people who buy next to nothing and leave no parking for shoppers, but you sound like that would make you happy.

    The status quo is slowly gutting downtown. Why do you love the status quo so much?
       —Ken Clark    May. 31 '05 - 04:16PM    #
  130. Ken, I didn’t want to introduce this thought early on until you had a chance to flesh out your idea, but it was the first thing that came to mind: what about football Saturdays? Would charging for a visitor to park in one’s on-street spot be as simple as it currently is for charging them to park in one’s driveway? That would be an interesting development with interesting implications, I think.
       —Steve Bean    May. 31 '05 - 05:06PM    #
  131. “The status quo is slowly gutting downtown. Why do you love the status quo so much?”

    I think the fact that people haven’t jumped all over this shows that they’re not really paying attention to this thread anymore.

    It’s a misrepresentation to characterize the current downtown business dynamics as simply “status quo,” as there are, of course, numerous ongoing changes. Second, to ask why Todd Leopold loves the status quo is either a stupid rhetorical flourish or shows that you haven’t paying attention. Todd talks himself blue in the face about how to improve Ann Arbor on a number of different levels. Hell, the dude ought to run for city council this fall… (go fifth ward!)
       —Dale    May. 31 '05 - 05:16PM    #
  132. Steve, people already do charge for on-street parking during football games. “Why sure, for $20 I will move my car so you can park here.” Also, all City parking regulations are different on football Saturdays. If I park a car in the grassy spot to the left of my driveway, I will get a ticket 359 days of the year. On football Saturdays I am free to park anyone there and charge any price. No matter what the arrangements are for parking at any other time of the year, all bets would be off on football Saturdays.
       —Juliew    May. 31 '05 - 05:49PM    #
  133. ken,

    it’s an interesting proposal, sure to prompt a lot of nit-picking … and here’s mine!

    if i buy a home from someone who sold their parking permit, how do i get a permit?

    thanks.

    ps: i read here the following Parking Fun Fact: The DDA’s parking system pays for itself, AND provides the funding for the Go! Pass program!, which contradicts (what i took to be) the consensus view that downtown parking is subsidized.

    pps: where can i find the exact dimensions of, say, the OWS RPP program?
       —peter honeyman    May. 31 '05 - 09:31PM    #
  134. hi peter,

    > ps: i read here the following Parking Fun
    > Fact: The DDA’s parking system pays for
    > itself, AND provides the funding for the
    >Go! Pass program!, which contradicts (what
    > i took to be) the consensus view that
    > downtown parking is subsidized.

    this ‘fact’, like many others, needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. do they mean that the revenues from operations offset the costs of continuing maintainence? or that the revenue from operations actually pays for the complete cost of the original structure and the ongoing maintainence? or what?

    obviously it’s a self-promotional site, so these ‘facts’ are presented with a light dusting of actual evidence.

    anyway, consider the source.
       —bob kuehne    May. 31 '05 - 09:56PM    #
  135. Yes, maybe an anti-DDA source without access to DDA information would provide more reliable evidence.
       —Dale    May. 31 '05 - 10:48PM    #
  136. Juliew, you’re describing the (illegal) exception to the rule. No one in my neighborhood charges for on-street parking. I’m talking about making the exception the rule so that it would be legal to charge for it. Visitors would expect to pay to park on residential streets just as they now pay to park in lots and yards. No more freebies (i.e., subsidies.) If I don’t want to allow parking in “my” space that day, for whatever reason, they’d risk getting towed to park there, or else go to someone else’s space who wants the income.

    One thing I’m wondering is how might someone work it without sitting out there all morning or if they sold their permit to someone for weekday commuter parking, for example. What would be proof that the parked car had the right to be there for the day in that case?

    Primarily though, I’m wondering if this might lead to reduced vehicle travel into the city on those days. Maybe more chartered buses, park-and-rides (free), carpools, or train(!) rides?
       —Steve Bean    May. 31 '05 - 11:25PM    #
  137. dale – for once, and i agree with you totally – i’d love more reliable evidence! maybe your dda source can provide that, instead of an easy-to-digest sound-bite.

    just check the facts, that’s all i’m saying. read what the statement says, and try to dig deeper.

    it’s our responsibility as taxpayers to, in the words of the cowboy ‘trust, but verify.’
       —bob kuehne    Jun. 1 '05 - 08:19AM    #
  138. I don’t have the numbers handy. Last I saw, I think Forest Street and Fourth/Washington are the faciliites that don’t quite cover costs, because they’re so new, and still have construction debt to pay down. (And, yes, construction of new facilities is included in the cost analysis.) All of the other facilities run a surplus, which covers the construction debt service of the newest facilities and, for example, the cost of paying for 5,000 goPasses. I, personally, am 100% in favor of any scheme which uses car-related fees to promote transit.

    I’ve heard a DDA Board member express concern that something will have to change because of the $1 million / year that the DDA just gave to the City. Note that meter rates haven’t gone up in 8 years, not even with inflation.
       —Murph    Jun. 1 '05 - 08:55AM    #
  139. hi murph, thanks for the info – well if these things cover costs, that’s at least one hurdle overcome. can you get the actual data? i’d be curious to read it. or is it already available on the web?

    i too am in favor of car-related fees that promote transit. i’d like to also see those fees used not just to promote transit, but perhaps encourage it’s use, maybe by discouraging parking in downtown, where the space is better utilized for living/business purposes. maybe charge 4-10x the fee to park at the center vs the edge and taking the aata in. those numbers are just wags at what the real number might be.

    bob
       —bob kuehne    Jun. 1 '05 - 08:59AM    #
  140. I don’t think that fits within the mandate of the DDA, Bob (discouraging parking to promote transit), UNLESS the net effect is to help downtown, which at this point, it would not.

    It seems to me to be an incremental process of trying to shift the transportation burden to alternate means as long as it keeps building business and downtown vitality or doesn’t hurt it.

    Also, Murph has been a great liaison for the DDA, talking about what he sees as a means of countering the cloak-and-dagger smoke filled rooms talk, but the burden should lie with inquirers to get DDA data. Walk down to their offices and make a request.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 09:16AM    #
  141. dale,
    i actually see my argument more as:

    encourage growth of a more dense and livable downtown though:

    * encouraging alternate transportation to get to downtown (greenway, aata from peripheral lots, light rail, etc).
    * encourage more greenspace downtown
    * encourage residential development downtown
    * encourage business downtown

    or most simply: balance the downtown space among residential, commercial, and greenspace.
       —bob kuehne    Jun. 1 '05 - 09:29AM    #
  142. Dale,

    You’ve done a great job avoiding personal attacks, but that last post was a bit edgy.

    Alright, I’ll clarify that. I should have said “parking status quo”, and status quo is defined as the current state of things. As I see it, the parking status quo is: heavily subsidized commuter permit parking, short-term parking in the structures that provides some of the subsidy, and reduced-price on-street parking to placate the retail businesses and provide more subsidy. The DDA goes a few steps farther in doing a great job of encouraging pedestrians, at least within the downtown, providing some transit accommodations, and providing a modicum of bicycle accommodations.

    That parking status quo has been in place as long as I can recall. If adding parking is really so great for downtown retail, what happened with Tally Hall and the Liberty Street businesses?

    A better counter for what I wrote is that there are different kinds of downtown non-office businesses, and restaurant/entertainment does pretty well with the current arrangement. That’s why we continue to lose retail and gain restaurants and bars. Since I’m not a business owner in the downtown, I don’t have a vested interest in my particular type of business. I’m a customer, and I liked it better when we had a downtown hardware store, working-class downtown clothing stores, a place I could buy shoes for my kids, and even an auto-parts store. I’m not particularly interested in eating out downtown, but I appreciate being able to get my groceries there. I like being able to get my garden supplies at Downtown Home and Garden. I do much of that shopping by bike and foot, and it would be far more difficult to go to the shopping strips on the outskirts of town, with their large, bicycle-unfriendly parking lots.

    It was perfectly reasonable once upon a time to look at the downtown business mix and say that for diversity purposes, we should have more office space, more restaurants and entertainment, and less retail and housing. That pendulum has swung far from where it started.

    There’s one more thing, and many of you are going to be outraged at this no matter how delicately I dance around it. If I had a business that required 2-4 hour parking, that was a significant walking distance from the downtown parking structures, but that wasn’t too far from on-street parking in residential streets, I bet I wouldn’t be happy with a residential permit parking policy on streets nearby. I don’t think changing the policy in downtown parking decks to encourage 2-hour parking would make me feel much better, even if it was better for the diversity of the downtown.
       —Ken Clark    Jun. 1 '05 - 09:55AM    #
  143. Dale, I do think that shading preference towards non-SOV travel modes in the downtown is good. Walking/biking/bussing/carpooling can transport more people – more life-density – in a given area than can cars. If what we’re looking for is a vital and interesting downtown, density of users (and getting the users out of cars) is a high priority.

    I think that steps have been made in that direction (e.g. funding goPass out of DDA parking money; UM funding AATA #36 to carry commuters in from Briarwood, rather than having them drive all the way in, etc.), but we should always keep looking for the next step.

    You have to do it in ways that are delicate enough, though, that it’s always seen as “encouraging people to come downtown without their cars” and not as “discouraging people from driving downtown.”

    Meanwhile, Bob, isn’t parking downtown ($105 monthly) already much more expensive than parking at Green Rd, Maple Rd., Village, or the other park-n-rides and taking the bus in with your goPass? ($5 annually) The fact that people still drive seems to me to indicate a major convenience factor (time cost). Back to my pet topic of supplementing the existing buses with express routes to reduce the convenience gap? (Of course, making driving-in-from-out-county-and-parking-and-riding more convenient won’t necessarily do anything for encouraging people to move into town, but that’s currently a low priority for me by merit of seeming low likelihood.)
       —Murph    Jun. 1 '05 - 09:58AM    #
  144. Murph,

    Does the analysis of parking structure solvency include the on-street parking revenue? If not, why does the DDA want that money? If so, how does the picture look without that revenue?

    As I’ve said before, in my book Council should never have agreed to give the DDA those revenues. As I recall the arguments, the DDA claimed that they needed the on-street parking revenue to make the parking decks solvent over the long-term.
       —Ken Clark    Jun. 1 '05 - 09:59AM    #
  145. Bob, I’ll ask about a copy of parking costs/revenues by facility for posting. We were able to get one for a class project a semester ago . . .
       —Murph    Jun. 1 '05 - 10:02AM    #
  146. I guess this is a general FYI, but those calling for DDA data should check the linked DDA report (just for starters; it’s more a summary than detailed data). Maybe it’s already been read by many posters.

    The only significant data category missing is commercial/retail rent/sq ft. (which has significantly impacted the movement and losses of state and liberty businesses, as Bob Dascola will attest.)

    I look forward to the August report.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 10:10AM    #
  147. Ken,

    I’m finding it frustrating that I am arguing with someone who I agree with for the most part. You are one of the champions of cycling in this town, and we shouldn’t be bickering or splitting hairs. I made this mistake with Bob K, and if you look at his post on #141, you’ll see that I am about 90% in line with his thinking. We are arguing about the last 10%, and that isn’t helping to solve these problems.

    ....so what have we done? We went back and forth for several posts, until your very last post finally acknowledged that:

    “If I had a business that required 2-4 hour parking, that was a significant walking distance from the downtown parking structures, but that wasn’t too far from on-street parking in residential streets, I bet I wouldn’t be happy with a residential permit parking policy on streets nearby.”

    That was all that I was trying to get you to see. Think Zingerman’s. Think Washtenaw Dairy. Think Jefferson Market. This would cripple these businesses…..Ok, maybe not Zingerman’s, but they’d lose revenue for sure.
       —todd    Jun. 1 '05 - 10:11AM    #
  148. Oops, forgot the link. For real this time.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 10:16AM    #