Tag Archives: Editorial

Downtown parking: are we done yet?

I just read DRC’s article from last weekend about the downtown parking woes.  Developers want the city to build more parking, or they say the area could face financial doom.

If a plan isn’t implemented soon, business owners say, the lack of parking would likely stunt the budding entertainment district along Industrial and East Hickory.

If downtown tenants don’t succeed, the value of real estate in the entertainment district could plummet, said Greg Johnson, executive vice president of Verus Real Estate Advisors, which owns several buildings off East Hickory Street.

“We’ve made our investments, and the parking is an absolute, critical component to the success of a restaurant in the entertainment district,” Johnson said.

Without the availability of publicly funded parking alongside expensive downtown acreage, it doesn’t make sense to develop downtown, he said.

“People get really excited about the entertainment and restaurants but can’t find a place to park,” he said. “If they can’t find a place to park, they stop going there and the energy starts to die.”

Back in March, the same developers explained to council that there is plenty of available parking downtown, day and night, and that downtown Denton is a walkable area where drivers might have to walk a couple blocks.  Wait, so they changed their minds?  Watch:

The beloved bar owner of Dan’s Silverleaf, Dan Mojica, offers a well balanced, never-threatening voice to the article:

People also need to be open to parking farther away from venues and walking the downtown area, he said.

“There’s an issue, obviously, but it’s not as expansive of an issue as it seems to feel,” Mojica said. “Just because it [parking] isn’t available right in front doesn’t mean there’s no parking.”

With nearby parking lots, such as the public lot east of the Wells Fargo building, the area will need to be more pedestrian-friendly, especially with the incoming passenger rail line, he said.

“This is something we need to address, but we’re in an enviable position,” Mojica said.

Since I lack the vast parking code comprehension of WalkableDFW, I’ll keep these thoughts primitive enough for my caveman brain.

  1. Parking problem vs perception of parking problem.  I feel like this debate has been discussed ad inifinitum to conclude that parking is plentiful.  The free city lot behind Wells Fargo is never full.  Case closed.
  2. Hey, what about the other transit modes?  Bikes, feet, buses, and that shiny awesomeness conspicuously absent from the article: The DCTA A-Train.  The downtown developers complain that they need publicly-funded parking, yet they’re building a carfree paradise within blocks of the train station.  In any metropolitan city, we’d call that Transit Oriented Development or Intelligent Urbanism.  Get more citizens walking, biking, and using public transit, and we’ll have more parking spots for drivers and out-of-towners.
  3. FUD.  The blame game.  “If our shiny new condos aren’t profitable, we blame lack of parking”.  Is this bullying rhetoric to get taxpayer funding for private enterprise?
  4. If people don’t find parking, they’ll leave?  In other news, the fact that the iPhone 4 is perpetually sold out makes me want it even more.  Whoa, wait, how did that happen?  All those cars circling Fuzzy’s indicate demand, and that’s a good thing.  Imagine how many pedestrian customers will eat there when the train arrives.  The parking problem isn’t a problem.  It’s a visual cue that people love going there.
  5. Does the city’s “cash in lieu of parking” program allow developers to provide bicycle parking in lieu of parking spots?  If not, why not?  Surely I’m not the only salaried thirty-something with .5 cars who’d like a sweet downtown loft with nice bicycle parking.  Guide developers by incentivizing transit diversity and not by prescribing car parking-requirements.
  6. What exactly does this parking outrage seek to accomplish?  Tonight, city council meets to discuss and accept the parking recommendations from the Jacobs group.  The recommendations include addition of angled spots, parallel spots, and a myriad of other downtown urbanizations.  The parking part of the plan looks like a shoe-in, to me.  So why the long face, developers?
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Safe Passing editorial

Dalton Gregory

Today, city councilman Dalton Gregory published a Safe Passing article in the Denton Record Chronicle.

The Safe Passage Ordinance establishes a clear standard for a safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for commercial vehicles) that applies only when road conditions allow. Texas already requires motorist to pass at a safe distance. This ordinance simply defines that distance.

The ordinance is written to protect “vulnerable road users” meaning a pedestrian, runner, physically disabled person, child, skater, construction and maintenance worker, tow truck operator, stranded motorist, equestrian, and person operating a bicycle, motorcycle or unprotected farm equipment.

In addition to general explanation of such an ordinance, he covers Safe Routes to Schools and crash reduction statistics.

A 2001 study shows that 25 percent of all trips in U.S. metropolitan areas were a mile or shorter.Forty percent were shorter than two miles.Two thirds of children who live within a mile of school travel there by car.

Texas reimburses school bus routes only for students living more than two miles from their school. Limited funds are available to pay for buses that keep children living closer than two miles off of dangerous routes.

A comprehensive plan for pedestrians and bikes can reduce the number of dangerous routes and position us to apply for federal funding for Safe Routes to Schools to help pay for new bike lanes and sidewalks.

In a study spanning 23 years looking at 15 streets with bike lanes and 15 similar control sites without bike lanes, results showed a 25 percent reduction in total crashes per mile and a 19 percent reduction in crash rates. Designated bike lanes on roads calm traffic and make roads safer for all users.

Fewer auto trips result in less road congestion, reduced auto emissions and cause less wear and tear on roadways.Biking and walking are the most affordable way to get from place to place.“Active transportation” alternatives result in more active lifestyles and healthier people.

Finally, Dalton brings in the historic Denton context and ties it to the push towards a master bike plan:

Dating back to at least 1995, Denton resident surveys and city planning documents have called for policies and facilities that accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.

Maybe the Safe Passage Ordinance can help continue the dialogue and be part of a comprehensive plan that includes a master plan for bike lanes and trails, safe routes to schools, safety education, and better facilities for bikes and pedestrians.

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