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g Today I can negotiate LA traffic, however

unwillingly, but I had no idea what to expect in the parking department at either location. My concerns were justified. I

found the office and located the entrance to the parking area, which was barred by a drop gate that opened when I punched the button and took a ticket, your standard procedure. I had no idea what I would end up paying to park in this lot, but had no other option and saw nothing posted nearby about rates. It was only later that I found out

this entry was being used to test equip- ment for a local provider of parking hardware, with offices in the same building, and there would be no charge for parking. So far so good. But when we tried to exit the park-

ing lot, the test equipment experienced a hiccup, and I was supplied with no end of giggles by the thought of the entire PT staff trapped in a parking lot by an uncooperative gate. ... Onward to the restaurant, where I

found free on-street parking, with no provisions or threats of citation coincid- ing with that particular date and time. I did have to wade through several knee- deep potholes to get my fettuccine Alfredo, but it was worth it. Obviously, I made it home safely

and considered the night a success, not having lost my car, been given a ticket or told any really terrible jokes. It doesn’t take much to have an

experience in parking. I’mhaving them all the time. And since I’m a natural- born planner, I consider where I’m going to park well before I even get in my car, especially when I’m going someplace I’ve never been. That means I’m parking every day

and thinking about it several times a day, and there are dozens of opportuni- ties every month for one of my parking experiences to be memorable in a posi- tive or negative way. So I write. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Melissa Bean Sterzick is PT’s amateur parker and proofreader. She can be reached at


from Page 53 I read an article the other day that

was yet another attempt at explaining away the downfall of the urban envi- ronment as the center of American life by trying to correlate the decline in some way with parking. Seems like I read at least one of

these every week, where the author is claiming the cause of urban decay is either too much parking, not enough parking, too much free parking or cus- tomers having to pay for parking. And they always seem to have pictures to “prove” their point. Frankly, it’s start- ing to tick me off. Let’s face it, downtowns started

dying off because it was too cost pro- hibitive to revamp older buildings to meet new safety/fire codes, retrofit them for newer HVAC systems, re-wire for newer lighting, remediate things like lead paint and asbestos, update them to meet new ADA rules, and to redesign the interiors to fit the ever- changing needs and desires of the con- sumer. It was much more affordable to simply build a new store, office build- ing or apartment complex than to update the old. Once you boil down the debate

about who/what killed downtown to a simple dollars-and-cents discussion, it’s easy to see what happened. There was an excellent, and fairly

short, articlewritten byMalcolmGlad- well that appeared March 15, 2004, in The New Yorker magazine, titled “Annals of Commerce: The Terrazzo Jungle,” that makes more sense about why we saw the commercial core shift from the urban to the suburban envi- ronment than any of the countless papers, dissertations and studies I’ve read trying to explain it with or blame it on everything from parking to elevat- ed roadway construction. Maybe some day parking will no

longer be the“go to” issue when trying to find fault for a city’s ills, but I doubt I’ll live to see it. –M.R.

Historic Downtown Build- ing Can Find No Love (Posted Feb. 22) Here’s a Feb. 21 report by Nancy

Sarnoff in the Houston Chronicle: No one showed up at last week’s auction to sell the historic Hogan-

See us at the IPI booth #717 APRIL 2010 • PARKING TODAY • 55


Allnoch building (in downtown Hous- ton), which is now likely to become a parking lot. It was at least the third time that’s

happened, said Robert Gaskins, general manager for Harris County’s Right of WayDivision.This time around, the coun- ty, which has owned the four-story, 50,000-square-foot building at 1319 Texas Avenue since the early 1990s, was asking $2.4 million for the property, based on an independent appraisal. There had been two previous auc-

tions where the minimum bids were set at $3.25 million and then $1.98 million. The building would cost $150,000 to demol- ish and as much as $5 million to restore, according to estimates. The former dry goods store that

dates back to 1923 has foundation dam- age and other structural problems, Gask- ins said. Before the auctions, Harris County

Commissioners Court wanted to tear it down and use the land as a parking lot,

Continued on Page 56

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