Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My first blog fight!

Okay, I started this one yesterday when I called out inDecatur over the 315 W. Ponce development. Anyway, he's got a response, and you should check out the whole thing. I'm going to cherry pick a few pieces to respond to, and probably leave it a that.
A direct question for B. KIng: Do you have one or more cars in Virginia Highlands? If you lived in Decatur, would you not have a car? Be honest, now.
Sure do. I would probably own a car if I lived in Decatur, or anywhere else for that matter. I don't think that means I'm not allowed to advocate for smart growth. I will say that I have in the past utilized MARTA to commute downtown (although I do not currently), and whenever I move next I intend to make access to transit a criterion.

Still, I'm don't think that my particular ownership of a car is pertinent to the point I was making about smart growth principles. My point was about long run behavior. Car-free living requires both better public transit and denser development. However, 315 W. Ponce is only three blocks from a rail station - it is the sort of development that can utilize transit alternatives already.

I would love to get the the point where I don't need my car. However, we don't need to get to that point for things to get better. When I lived in Ann Arbor, parking was difficult downtown. So I took the bus into town, and only used my car to go grocery shopping or to the movies on the outskirts of town. I drove maybe every other day, and at times less. My behavior reduced demand for parking downtown, and I preferred not having to drive, anyway.
Unless you work for a local merchant, a law firm, or the city or county; you probably work elsewhere in Atlanta even if you live in Decatur. You are expected to be at work on time. You may have to travel to the locations of clients in the greater Atlanta area.
In fact, the more a person walks, bikes, scooters, and MARTAs around, the longer his/her car will need a parking space home.
Ahh, see, this is the point of the shared parking. The residents will most likely still drive to work, freeing up spaces for the office users.
When we approach the point where there are more cars than parking spaces, chaos will set in. People will be parking in handicapped spaces, in front of residents' houses, and even on grass straps when it comes to that. Towing and booting will be big business. Visitors will not know where to park to do business with our local merchants. Complaints will be high. Decatur will get a black eye. Some other city/town will emerge to take our place as the Berkeley/Mayberry town ITP, or just outside it.
It'll be pandemonium! People will fight to the death on the street for a parking space! Two men enter, one man leaves! In seriousness, this is an overreaction. Do we really think that this development will cause people to park on grass strips? There are four public parking decks within three and a half blocks of this development. I think people can adapt if there is a parking shortage on site (which I don't think there will be, because shared parking is a real solution here). If I need to go to Decatur, I usually park at the Church St. deck. I rarely have trouble there, although this is usually at night and things may be different during the day.

Decatur isn't really going to get to the point where there are more cars than parking spaces, that is all hyperbole (at least, I hope so - actually fearing this could happen is probably paranoid). Without knowing the actual numbers for Downtown Decatur, I'll just note that dense areas typically have too much parking. CAP found that only 66% of Downtown Atlanta's parking space were being used at any given time. Despite a perception that parking is difficult downtown, there are plenty of spaces. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing were discovered about Decatur - it bears repeating that there are four parking decks within three and a half blocks of this development.

Again, other areas with far worse parking ratios than this development do excellent retail business. Not just Virginia Highlands, but Candler Park, and Cabbagetown. And these are areas where the parking is crunched oftentimes at night or during weekends when residents are home, too.

I think the fretting over parking pandemonium is a bunch of sturm und drang.

Oh, concerning this:
He/she (I'm going to assume she, since men typically are not afraid to spell out their first name, but I could be wrong)...
Women are afraid to spell out their first names? Really? This is a gender issue? Using an initial has something to do with my masculinity? Really, really?

For the record, I'm a dude. My name is Ben. You stay classy, though.


  1. I'm in the area, not all that concerned about 315 either.

    GO BLUE!

    If only Decatur were like Ann Arbor. sigh.

  2. w00t! Go Blue! I'll be posting some UM football stuff once the season starts. Not analytical stuff like MGoBlog, but mostly ranty-type stuff.

    FWIW, Decatur is the closest thing Atlanta has to A^2.

  3. Ann Arbor sounds like it could be a model for Atlanta, even though I suspect it is a lot smaller.

    I choose to live in an in-town neighborhood and my goal is to drive less. That doesn't mean never driving, it means choosing other means of transport for some activities, and as you say, even driving a little bit less will improve the traffic and parking situation in Atlanta.

  4. I don't have the exact numbers (I'm a music theorist and composer, not an urban planner), but I remember Northampton, MA as being very similar to what we've seen of Decatur in our two weeks or so here.

    There's no reason that bad parking ratio ≠ bad retail. Northampton had crazy busy onstreet parking...and thriving retail.


  5. I generally ignore the inDecatur blogger - he's clueless about what Decatur is about, as evidenced by hi obsession with gasoline prices. And anyone who takes a shot at your manhood on the internet is generally not worth responding to.

    But his objections to 335 are representative with the hysteria and ignorance of the overall opposition movement. There's not much "there" there.


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