Debate Over Parking in Missoula, Montana

Today from the Streetsblog Network, a report from Imagine No Cars in Missoula, Montana, a city that is at a planning crossroads. Missoulians can continue with the familiar strategy of more roads, more parking, more space for cars — or they can try to envision a different future. The issue heated up recently when an update to Missoula’s parking meter system was debated in the city council:

DowntownMissoula.jpgDowntown Missoula: Which way will it go?

Missoula’s downtown faces many of the same problems that most downtowns
in America face. One of those problems is dealing with parking. Our
city’s long-term planning envisions big growth for our little city over
the next 20 years, especially in our urban core, where a
lot more people will not only come to shop and eat lunch, but also
increasingly come to live. To deal with this growth and the subsequent
need to accommodate more cars downtown, Missoula’s Downtown Master Plan
calls for the building of seven new publicly owned multi-story parking
structures at the cost of tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers and
using up precious real estate for the storage of our community’s
vehicles…

Providing alternatives to driving and parking is a
much more cost-effective way to use a community’s limited resources…

If you reduce road capacities, congestion is actually reduced
as people find better and easier ways to get around that doesn’t
require driving. At the same time, if bicycle infrastructure is
invested in and mass transit increased this will induce demand for
these services as it becomes more convenient. Not only does a community
spend less money to accommodate
locally focused transportation but it frees up real estate when fewer
roads need to be expanded and fewer parking structures built. This
extra real estate can be invested in, creating wealth and jobs in the
local community rather than creating a larger tax bill for city
residents.

It sounds like some in the community are trying to advance those ideas. Is anybody listening?

More from around the network: Orphan Road reports on a proposal for road maintenance fees to actually cover the costs of road maintenance. Biking in LA writes about getting right-hooked by a bus in Santa Monica. And at New Geography, Aaron Renn puts forth a plan for saving Detroit.

  • Seven new garages, how big is Missoula? That seems pretty extreme. Certainly there is the time and place for a garage here or there, but seven too much

  • Thanks for the coverage. Its nice to see something from a small city get highlighted in a setting usually focused on much larger urban areas.

    In response to your comment Dave, the seven garages are found in a document that plans for 20 years of growth and it would be highly unlikely that they would all get built. But even if a few do pop-up it would be a huge waste of very valuable real estate.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Car-Free in Montana

|
Some thoughts today from one of the newest members of the Streetsblog Network — from Missoula, Montana, Imagine No Cars. The blog’s author is a University of Montana student who is chronicling his year of living without a motor vehicle. He calls the blog "a journal of my journey to live a car-free lifestyle. An […]
STREETSBLOG USA

There Will Never Be “Enough” Parking

|
Employees at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have to accumulate 13 years of service time before they get an on-site parking permit. To get a sense of how much employees become invested in this system, check out this YouTube video of one man’s elation the day he gets his parking privileges (and notice how towering parking garages dominate […]

The New York City Parking Boom

|
The first in a three-part series on New York City parking policy. Last December, in announcing the goals of his Long-Term Planning and Sustainability initiative, Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the terrifying specter of New York City commuters in the year 2030 stuck in an eight-hour "rush hour." This all-day traffic jam would become a reality, the […]

DCP Proposal Will Cut Downtown Brooklyn Parking Minimums in Half

|
Downtown Brooklyn’s mandatory parking minimums would be cut in half for new development and eliminated outright for affordable housing under a plan from the Department of City Planning. The change is significant — the first rollback of the costly and car-ownership inducing requirements under the Bloomberg administration — but doesn’t go far enough. Even by DCP’s own […]

Planning Commission OKs Paltry Parking Reform for Downtown Brooklyn

|
The New York City Department of City Planning announced yesterday that the City Planning Commission has approved a measure to reduce Downtown Brooklyn’s onerous parking minimums. But the commission, chaired by Amanda Burden, appears to have wasted an opportunity to improve on the timid reforms. The good news is that new developments in Downtown Brooklyn, […]