3/31/08

Commission's View of Parking is Misguided

This is a joint letter Ryan and I submitted to the Miami Herald's Op Ed section and to the city of Miami Commission regarding last Thursday's vote on the Empire World Towers proposal:

Commission's View of Parking is Misguided
By: Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal & Ryan Sharp
www.TransitMiami.com

As transportation engineers and urban planners, we feel that City of Miami’s plans to increase the total number of parking spaces in the Empire World Towers development will have a detrimental effect on both the people and City of Miami.

An Increase in Parking Supply Increases Driving Demand

An increase of net parking spaces - to one per unit, as the city commission proposed - will only worsen the traffic conditions along Biscayne Boulevard and the surrounding streets. The aim of the city administration and all downtown development should be to reduce automobile dependency, not enhance it, especially in one of the few areas well served by public rail transit. Any increases in available parking will only serve as a means with which our residents will continue to neglect and undermine the intended purpose of public transportation.

More Parking = More Traffic Congestion Downtown

It is in our opinion, that the city commission should fully embrace reductions in parking space requirements for all downtown buildings within a 3-block radius of any fixed rail transit station. To do this, the city should unequivocally support Empire World Towers' proposed station link to Metromover, not an increase in parking spaces. Supporting both would be contradictory - essentially taking one-step forward and one-step backward. An Empire World Towers station linkage to Metromover will facilitate transit use resulting in a net reduction of vehicular trips, while more parking will do just the opposite.

Miamians possess no innate preference for car use; land use policy in this region has never presented residents with a clear alternative option. Increasing the number of parking spaces in this development will only exacerbate this problem, while doing nothing to make our transportation infrastructure more sustainable.

Car-Related Infrastructure has contributed significantly to Downtown Miami's Ills

Every time we allow a policy that favors cars over transit, such as increasing parking mandates, our entire region becomes less sustainable and we all lose. Drivers who are supposed to benefit from more parking actually suffer because traffic congestion worsens. Those who do not or cannot drive suffer because they feel all the externalities of car-dominated spaces, including noisy, polluted, and unsafe streets. Anyone who sets foot downtown suffers because they are forced to walk by so many unpleasant spaces, such as surface parking lots and the blank walls and curb cuts of parking garages. Businesses suffer because fewer people will pass by on foot, while employees will have worse commutes. This vicious cycle has been the status quo downtown for too long, which has left the streets unpleasant and thus a vacuum to be filled by the undesirable elements that people complain about.

Do the Right Thing and Support a Livable, Sustainable Future for Miamians

The inefficiency of the parking system proposed by Maclee is proposed to force EWT residents and visitors to seek alternative means of transit when accessing the development (a direct point made by Enrique Peñalosa to the city, was that in order for public transportation to be successful it would have to be at least equally attractive as the alternatives.) Mobility in Miami will only continue to be governed by the automobile if we continue utilizing land use policies that favor vehicles over people. Transit Miami asks the city commission, with all due respect, to reduce the parking requirements this Thursday for the Empire World Towers proposal.

5 Comments:

Kordor said...

Couldn't agree more. To the idiots in Miami Beach government, these arguments apply to you, too. Maybe your Planning Department could actually fight for good planning instead of sucking up to reactionary politicians. After the recent increase in required parking in Miami Beach, I'd be ashamed to be a planner in that city.

Joe said...

Great letter, guys. Let's hope they get the message.

Anonymous said...

While I enjoy your blog, your anti-car views are often taken to an absurd extreme. We can't do anything about taking people "out of the car." This is Miami. We are a car culture - probably third to only LA and Detroit in this country - and have to keep this in mind. We aren't going to get people out of their cars.

Anonymous said...

In regards to parking, wouldn't it be nice if the Miami Metrorail waived parking fees during the hours the parking lot is not busy? I bet they would get more profit from transit-paying customers.

Think about it... 1.50 per person each way compared with the cost of 4 dollars to park. And during times that's not rush hour, there has to be more of an incentive to take transit especially when you can get somewhere fast without a car.

t said...

re- anonymous:

You're right. We aren't going to get people out of there cars. The forces beyond our control will. And Miami is nowhere near ready for it.

The only absurd view here is the idea that a "car culture" is sustainable. When the convenient operation of a personal vehicle in Miami is no longer financially feasible, what do you think happens next?

Without proper infrastructure in place to help move people around the sprawling madness of South Florida, you have a potential economic disaster.