City smuggles ARC EIR decision onto Tuesday’s Consent Calendar

Downtown Parking and Virtue Signaling

6a017d3c4588ca970c0240a44d33e1200c-800wiBy Glen Holstein

While collecting signatures at the Farmer’s Market for the initiative to facilitate Davis parking we found most folks taking the time to stop signed.  A few, however, were quite hostile and wanted walking and biking to be the only method of Davis travel by making driving so onerous by means like limiting parking that folks would abandon cars.  This war on cars supported by key city staff and partially enabled by the city council is what’s made our initiative necessary.  Its results are all around us:  traffic clogging structures causing gridlock at Mace Boulevard, meter schemes that reduce parking convenience, elimination of former parking areas, lack of the traffic light synchronization that eases traffic flow in Sacramento and Woodland, and new longer waits at signals that have increased red light running. 

All this has done nothing to eliminate cars.  It has only excluded from central Davis those too disabled to walk or bike and those wanting to use their vehicles to make purchases.  Meanwhile sprawl is facilitated by making free commercial lots at the edge of Davis or in other towns more attractive.

Extremists who want Davis transportation limited to walking and biking claim it’s about climate change, but it’s not.  Diverting traffic from the core to more distant places makes climate change worse, not better.  So does causing vehicles to idle at every red light as they inch across town.  Even those in hybrid or electric vehicles are frustrated by these unnecessary and harassing delays.

What it is about and only about is virtue signaling so the few in their spandex suits can feel morally superior to the rest of us.



I thought Davis was all about promoting the use of bikes over other means of transportation...?

Downtown Davis could replace several parking spots with bike racks. Whenever I go downtown, I'm surprised how difficult it is to find an open bike rack.

Colin Walsh

Josh, the initiative being circulated includes significant additional bike parking.
Cars and bikes can coexist. In fact it is very important to the downtown that they have space for people who choose to drive. Not only does it provide customers that help keep the downtown vibrant, it prevents the carbon emissions if they chose to drive to other towns.

Todd Edelman

I am curious why the "initiative to facilitate..." doesn't include a strong recommendation to have fee'd parking at those "commercial lots". That would seem to make things more fair, yes? (Surely, there'd be opposition to that from store owners, but would companies such as Nugget which likes to be a good neighbor ultimately stand in the way of this? Conversely, what if they agreed to have fee'd parking only if Downtown had fee'd parking?)

Colin Walsh

Todd, I think your asking the right questions.
I see it as how do we keep the downtown vibrant and encourage shoppers to take shorter trips and transition to lower carbon transportation. For me punitive actions that discourage cars downtown and force drivers to make longer trips to other locations is a negative way to approach this. We have to look at this in a more regional way. I think that is at least part of what your suggesting.

Robert D Canning

It is unfortunate that Mr. Holstein views this the effort to introduce paid parking to less than 25% of downtown block faces as a battle against extremism. On the contrary, I would suggest that simply banning paid parking in the downtown core is the extreme measure.

Parking is a resource like many others in the urban environment and needs to be managed to make sure it serves the needs of merchants and customers alike.

One of the problems right now with parking downtown is that the employees of downtown merchants take up valuable parking spaces that could be used by those shoppers who want convenient parking. Yet, when the downtown merchants surveyed themselves a couple of years ago the almost half said they did not provide parking permits for their employees, mostly because of the expense. And the merchants also said in the same survey that their employees routinely do not move their cars after the time limit is up! The survey also showed that downtown merchants favor building a new parking garage, despite the fact that most estimates are that each spot in a new parking structure would cost about $50,000. (Are the merchants willing to put up the $$?)

I for one do not want to ban cars downtown but I would certainly like to see better parking management (as the City's parking task force envisioned) so that citizens don't clog the streets looking for parking spots taken up by employees.

And by the way, individuals with handicap plates and placards have always been able to parkin in any spot - paid or otherwise

Todd Edelman

Colin, what is "punitive" about adding a fee for parking? Are gas taxes also punitive? You know that drivers pay only a part of the total cost of driving, with the rest paid for anyone else who also drives or doesn't. Should gas be free because any fee is punitive? Or does it have a reasonable cost? When costs are not internalized, it's a gift.

These people want us to pay them to drive.

Ron O

I concur, regarding the concerns brought up by Glen Holstein in his article, above.

On a broader level, there seems to be a related effort to make downtown into less of a "destination", for residents and visitors. This is especially concerning.


I agree 100% with Holstein's article regarding paid parking and the stupid timing involved with the stop lights. It reminds me of this song parody performed by law students years ago, "Living in Davis, where the stop lights will drive you crazy". Unfortunately I can't find the video anymore.

Todd Edelman

Everyone loves "Adam Ruins Everything"! Here's the podcast version... in this episode, an hour with UCLA professor and parking guru Donald Shoup:

Bob Milbrodt

In my mere 42 years of bicycling around this community, I have never had difficulty in finding a place to park my bicycle. The same cannot be said for my recent efforts with a car. So, I avoid downtown (with my car) during peak parking periods. Others just find somewhere else to take their spending, something we should seek to minimize. Also, we can promote bicycling without impeding the use of other modes of transit.

Bob Milbrodt

1. Traditional downtowns typically meet commercial parking needs with public-owned parking lots or on-street parking. Our downtown merchants have relied on the provision of public parking. Thus, reducing the number or availability of these spaces is unjust and detrimental to their businesses.
2. Initiatives have no authority over private property, hence no inclusion of the types of private property restrictions you suggest. The parking initiative requires restoration of the 120 spaces that the city has already removed from the downtown. It also requires maintaining the same number of parking spaces that our downtown merchants have relied on for decades.
3. Taxes are by definition punitive and for this very reason should be avoided and minimized as much as possible. When a tax is imposed it should not create a privilege. Yet, paid parking does create a privilege for those who are able and willing to pay for parking. Paid public parking wrongly converts a public good into a private good… unless you don’t believe in this crucial distinction.
4. I listened to the discussion with Don Shoup that you posted. Shoup proposes a lot of interesting ideas, many that I could support… if we were starting from scratch. However, from our starting point, his proposals are immoral… no matter how much you might desire his speculative outcomes. I do not have the time or space here to properly critique his work. Perhaps I will do so once I finish reading his tome against public parking. Suffice it to say that I strongly believe in a distinction between private and public goods, and I will have irreconcilable differences with anyone taking a contrary view.

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