Parking Madness Final Four: Federal Way vs. Dallas

Villanova is taking on UNC tonight, but the main event is here on Streetsblog, with the first Final Four match of Parking Madness 2016.

Streetsblog readers have narrowed this year’s field of 16 down to four parking abominations in these cities: Niagara Falls, Louisville, Dallas, and Federal Way, Washington.

Your votes will determine who gets into the final. We expect nailbiters from here on out.

Federal Way


Surface parking lots are outlined in orange in this view of Federal Way, a city of 90,000 between Seattle and Tacoma. A reader singled out this crater for shame largely because a $1.5 billion light rail project will be routed through here (the yellow outline marks the station site), only to be surrounded by a sea of parking.

Tom Johnson of the Federal Way mayor’s office sent an email to make his case that the future of this parking crater is looking up. He says a 20-acre transit-oriented development is coming to downtown Federal Way, north of the transit station. See if you find his argument convincing:

Additionally, another 7 acres have been recently purchased that are going under redevelopment changes that will see increased density and reduced surface parking. And yet even further development is proceeding as the TOD for light rail will be an additional 12 acres to the south of the existing transit center. The largest parking area in our community is a park-and-ride owned by the people who will bring light rail. I agree that should not have ever happened in that configuration, however,  its future will be one of improvement.

Part of the issue with Federal Way is that it has only been a city for 25 years. We inherited poor planning by King County, including the development of high intensity electrical transmission lines — the Bonneville Power Administration that prevents urban densification in parts of the center city. Your thoughts on removal or alternatives would be appreciated as we struggle to  identify how to lobby for relocation of 8 blocks of this impediment. In the meantime, we have engaged ULI to help in this effort.


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These are the parking lots around Dallas’s Fair Park, a 275-acre complex that houses the state fair. Previous posts have described how the city bulldozed a black neighborhood to make room for all this surface parking. Most of the year, the lots aren’t even used. The area is also home to a DART station.

Submitter Dallas May called the parking crater “a reminder of our city’s shame,” but he says “it’s not all negative.” Among other recommendations, the Mayor’s Task Force on Fair Park has proposed building a number of parking structures and converting much of the existing surface lots to parkland [PDF]. Will this affect your vote?

The parking lot in between the Music Hall and the African American Museum could be turned into green space, and used as a music green for both indoor and outdoor play, concerts and small performances, while the parking lot between the former Perot Museum and former Science Place building could be remodeled to be a museum green with a beautiful view of the lagoon.

All right, which of these craters deserves a shot at some potentially beneficial hometown publicity by making it to the championship?

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Federal Way (55%, 88 Votes)
  • Dallas (45%, 72 Votes)

Total Voters: 160


25 thoughts on Parking Madness Final Four: Federal Way vs. Dallas

  1. Bonus points to Dallas for demolishing a functioning existing community. At least with Federal Way, the parking was on former farmland or is underneath power lines.

  2. Last time I voted for Federal Way; this time I voted for Dallas. The lots, as hideous as they are, are used much more in WA than they are in TX. Officials in Federal Way recognize the problem and are taking steps to correct it, however slowly. In Dallas the proposed solution is to consolidate parking, which is good, but the plans put forth by the task force are the definition of low-hanging fruit. This “solution” doesn’t address what to do with the sea of asphalt south of Pennsylvania Avenue, or how to better integrate the fairgrounds into the urban fabric surrounding it. This distinct lack of vision translates clearly into continuing negligence and an unwillingness to take the problem seriously.

  3. This is less Dallas vs Federal Way as it is Stadiums/Fairgrounds vs Malls/Power Centers. Obviously surface parking comes with all of these uses; it’s kind of hard to find suburban examples of these that do NOT have acres of parking surrounding them. But are we condemning the use or the specific application as it pertains to parking?

    Dallas has a slight edge in this regard because they actually tore up a functional neighborhood to create the parking. But there really should be a limitation against certain uses being included in Parking Madness.

  4. Dallas isn’t even the worst offender among football stadiums. Sure the Cotton Bowl isn’t used very often, but the state fair uses that lot for 24 days, plus you have the concert venue here, and there are other uses for the Fair (North Texas Irish Festival, Independence Day Festival). Compare that to any number of NFL stadiums that are only used 8 days a year.

  5. Or certain college stadia that are used only 5 days a year. Although to their credit, some of these stadia have grass parking lots, a nice option when the use is so infrequent (SunLife Stadium, Yale Bowl, etc.). Would be nice if the area around the Cotton Bowl was grass but I imagine the continuous use of the Texas State Fair makes that impossible.

  6. Your communication skills are extraordinary for a professional in “community relations” looking to “build positive relationships.” It’s kind of you to “consider all perspectives” before contributing your “positive, creative, and inclusive” commentary. Looking forward to experiencing more of your “collaborative strategies.”

  7. Thank you for your snark AND for visiting my company’s website, Mr. S!

    Succinct truth, first-hand knowledge, and an absence of that false courage that comes with anonymous blog posts has served Elettore’s clients very well in Texas.

    It’s easy to have an opinion and hit “Enter.” The hard part is bringing political leaders, the private sector, and communities together … and actually achieving results.

    We appreciate the plug.

    And “continuing negligence” is still a lie. You’re welcome.

  8. Leaving one-liners in an online forum in opposition to a compete stranger’s personal opinion is its own form of snark, and it’s considerably easier than taking the time to form and write a coherent counter-argument. If you have information to contribute to the discussion at hand that might sway personal opinion I would welcome it, but given what has been put forward by the city I’m not convinced planners are taking concerns seriously. And having an opinion is not the same thing as lying, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

  9. Funny. I’ve worked professionally in urban planning and engineering consulting to Texas municipalities, TxDOT, etc. for more than a decade, with 6-7 years in Dallas (including several projects in South Dallas). I’ve worked with numerous PR/PI firms…but I’ve never heard of your company.

  10. Someone who knows enough to not risk tarnishing my professional reputation by using a real name while spouting off childishly on a public website.

  11. Randall White’s firm appears to have Fair Park as a client, so it’s understandable that he comes on here to defend its existence. What is odd is his method of doing so, which I would certainly not approve of were I his client. Perhaps we should bring these posts to the attention of the Friends of Fair Park or the City of Dallas.

  12. The irony is, I am an advocate for urbanism, walkability, bikeability, green and public spaces, density, balanced scale, multi-modal transportation, and economic incentives to reduce spawl and encourage urban vibrancy.

    I have been an advocate for a couple of decades, both as a volunteer and as a professional.

    However, ideological intransigence — no matter the topic or where on the spectrum it rears its non-negotiable head — is more offensive to me than a sea of freeways.

    The credibility of this Bracketology “game” is shot by, at best, intentionally misleading and, at worst, patently wrong information stated as fact.

    It’s like there is an abundance of Donald Trumps and Ted Cruzes posting here, stating things as truth … and then being offended when what they say is challenged.

    Fair Park — and its State Fair of Texas, in particular — is a place new urbanists love to hate because it has (gasp!) parking lots. In car-loving Texas! Horrors! It’s treated as though it is ground zero in Dallas for the two-headed beast of gentrification and eminent domain. (Can someone say Uptown?) Plus, as someone of American Indian ancestry, when exactly did that gentrification clock start?

    Endogenous entrenchment especially fuels those with no first-hand or pragmatic experience with Fair Park, self-radicalized magical thinkers who get all of their ammunition from blogs and conference panelists.

    Usually, my group and I work to break down walls among disparate factions. We find diplomatic outcomes, produce “visioning charrettes,” and craft compelling communications that either call people to action or to a higher level of knowledge.

    However, I can tell when I am in a room filled with those who are not receptive to any other perspective than the one rattling around in their heads. That’s when I’ll just toss a yellow flag and call “bullshit.”

    Why should mistruths be treated with any more respect than calling them out as such? Especially from those who profess “transparency” as a moral tenet and then hide behind anonymity and avatars.

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