Atlanta’s Parking Problem Isn’t a Lack of Spaces

Downtown Atlanta has 93,000 parking spaces, according to a new report. Photo: ATL Urbanist
Downtown Atlanta has 93,000 parking spaces, according to a new report. Photo: ATL Urbanist

A group of Atlanta business leaders recently commissioned a report examining the parking situation in the city’s downtown [PDF]. Aimed at “facilitating future growth in a sustainable manner,” the report found that there are 93,000 parking spaces in Atlanta’s central business district.

Darin at ATL Urbanist says the document has some good ideas — most notably the mention of car sharing as a way to reduce the need for parking — but it still misses the mark in many ways:

Obviously, the set of documents from the parking assessment has the sole aim of improving the experience of parking for drivers. In its place, that’s a valid pursuit (though it still doesn’t excuse the bizarre “A person’s first and last impression of a city begins and ends with parking”).

My complaint is that the assessment is happening in a silo — it doesn’t seem to be tied to an overall plan that includes sensible goals for downtown such as:

  • Encouraging new housing stock that accommodates use of alternative transportation
  • Reducing the truly soul-crushing amount of land devoted to parking here
  • Establishing the primary importance of improving the experience of walking, cycling and using transit here

Goals such as these should be front and center in the thoughts and actions of city leaders, taking precedence over concerns about improved parking and strongly informing any initiative regarding automobile use. That they are not present in the recommendations of this report is telling.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Reinventing Parking evaluates Seattle’s low-tech efforts to manage street parking prices. Rights of Way reports that Portland, Maine, finally has a sidewalk to its train and bus terminal. And Rails-to-Trails looks at what the short-term federal transportation funding extension means for biking and walking.

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Alan Durning is the executive director and founder of Sightline Institute, a think tank on sustainability issues in the Pacific Northwest. This article, originally posted on Sightline’s blog, is #9 in their series, “Parking? Lots!” Have you ever watched the excavation that precedes a tall building? It seems to take forever. Then, when the digging […]

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