Parking Madness: San Bernardino vs. Chicago


Where is the most cringeworthy case of excess car storage next to a transit station? Streetsblog’s annual Parking Madness tournament is in search of an answer.

A suburban St. Louis rail station is already through to the next round, and the polls are still open in yesterday’s match pitting greater Boston again Toronto. The first round action continues today, as the downtown parking lots by a multi-modal transit hub in the Inland Empire take on a suburban-style shopping center right next to a Chicago train station.

Don’t forget to vote for the worst.

San Bernardino Transit Center

Reader Anna Jaiswal nominated this site and says more parking is on the way:

Omnitrans and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority opened the new San Bernardino Transit Center in downtown San Bernardino in September 2015, which is adjacent to a commuter rail line, a bus rapid transit line, and some 17 other bus routes. A new 166-space parking lot is being constructed on the south side of the tracks. The entire surrounding downtown area is rife with unused parking, including 2,000 spaces in the near-vacant City-owned Carousel Mall lot just one block to the North, the baseball stadium just one block to the South, and several strip retail centers neighboring the Transit Center.

Chicago — Howard Street/Gateway Plaza


This parking expanse by the Howard Street CTA station comes from reader Thorn Lamont, who writes:

Chicago’s Gateway Plaza is a particularly embarrassing parking crater. Located just steps from one of the city’s busiest transit hubs — though as you can see from the bump-ins, they’re some very treacherous steps — Gateway Plaza is a most egregious example of transit indifferent development.

The Howard Street CTA station is one of the system’s busiest, where three rail lines and numerous bus lines terminate. But the redeveloped shopping area is a setback strip mall that’s more suited to outer fringes of suburbia. After nearly two decades, the mall still lends a palpable suburban deadness to the neighborhood.

This poll will be open until Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, and you can still vote in the Toronto vs. Medford match until 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • San Bernardino (53%, 173 Votes)
  • Chicago (47%, 152 Votes)

Total Voters: 325


19 thoughts on Parking Madness: San Bernardino vs. Chicago

  1. This one’s easy. My sister lives in Chicago and you can bike to the Howard station. San Berdoo, on the other hand, is a car-centric nightmare.

  2. Except for two or three gaps the parking in Chicago there, is actually not on the street but behind all those buildings. Yes it is likely overlarge but not a horrible example of anti-urban parking. Plus the area next to the green roofs is a major bus hub as is the chicaned street. Sorry Chicago, you lose (win?) this one. And I’m from Chicago.

  3. The San Bernardino site is slated for redevelopment of the surrounding area, although the controversial new paking lot to the South that is being added as part of the extension of the Metrolink regional-rail service is definitely unnecessary and undesirable.

    The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority may be land banking with the expectation of future value capture, but City officials should have fought the creation of that parking lot more than they did.

  4. The surface parking around the United Center is horrible, especially if you consider that the Blue, Green, and Pink lines all stop in the area.

    This is much worse than the development adjacent to the Howard Street station.

  5. San Bernardino and it’s not a contest. I’d nominate the areas around Comiskey Park and the United Center before Howard.

  6. The good new is that the CTA will be adding a new Green Line stop at Damen Avenue, just northwest of the stadium, so hopefully that will reduce parking demand and lead to some de-paving.

  7. That Gateway Plaza lot is ridiculous, but at least there are some nice mixed-use and large multi-family buildings within a block or less of the Howard station.

  8. Do any websites other than the Streetsblog network refer to parking lots as “car storage”? I suspect that to most people “car storage” means long term non-operation locations, and the cars that are “stored” are often “project cars” that need a lot of work before they are road-ready, or they belong to people who are going out of the country for extended periods.

  9. I think Streetsblog uses the term “car storage” as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way to remind people that parking actually takes up space in cities and isn’t just some innocuous place we drop our cars and forget about.

  10. Plus, the streets really do wind up serving as car storage far too often. For example in NYC it’s plenty easy to think of cars that basically never move except on street sweeping days. And in places like DC that suspend street sweeping over the winter…I’ve seen plenty of discussions on /r/washingtondc about the wisdom of leaving your car on the street while you go away for a month vs the risk you’re taking of your car getting towed for not clearing a snow emergency route. Discussions that necessarily mean that people view the streets as a normal space to use for long-term vehicle storage.

  11. well the mall is going to be torn down eventually to make way for…..empty space and maybe a new city hall. the transit center was built as a way to revitalize downtown. metrolink is going to be extended from the empty parking lot/train station just west of the 215

  12. then south of the baseball stadium, there is more parking because of the almost dead mall(inland center)

  13. There is a 99 Cents store in that “Dead grocery store” area you’re talking about.

  14. San Bernardino is a worse city in every way to almost every city. We’re poorer than almost everywhere that can call itself a big or medium sized city (save Detroit), have worse food than anywhere, have worse pollution, have the worst ran city hall…when I can afford to get out, I’m gone.

  15. Hell Chicago gets a lot of press being the “murder capital” of the U.S., but San Bernardino actually had more murders last year. We’re not as bad crime wise as Baltimore (yet) but we’re pretty close. Per Capita I think we have the highest murder rate, but I might be wrong.

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