Every time we choose to build storage for cars instead of homes for people there’s a second choice we’re explicitly making. We’re not only choosing to build parking, we’re also choosing not to build housing. That’s an important thing to remember. It’s not just the cost of adding parking, which is significant, it’s also the loss of new neighbors, the loss of the opportunity for people to obtain housing, the loss of tax revenue that could support more parks and better sidewalks, the loss of potential customers for local businesses.
The moral argument would ask whether two empty cars have a greater right to the limited space available in the city than two people. The social argument would ask whether two empty cars provide more energy, community, and dynamism to the city than two people. The fiscal argument would ask whether two empty cars provide more tax base to the city than two people. I ask why this is even a debate?
The things we choose to build inform who it is we’re trying to be. Are we trying to be a city that can pay its bills by inviting more people to join us and make Denver a better place, or do we choose to be a city that struggles to keep up because so much space is devoted to unproductive parking? Are we trying to be a city of restaurants, clothing shops, doctors’ offices, and grocery stores, or do we choose to be a city of parking lots? Are we trying to be a community made up of people or parking spaces? It’s our choice, Denver.
Image courtesy of Victoria Transport Policy Institute and Graphing Parking.