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but preservationists persuaded it to give someone a chance to buy it. Here’s Tom Feagins’ e-mail to the author: It is all aboutmoney and taxes, and this time the city is correct. The highest and best use for the property would be to

tear it down and put in a pay parking lot. The theory by preservationists that parking lots are ugly is not in the best interests of downtown. To me, parking lots are not ugly. Parking lots help pay for

property taxes while an empty abandoned building generates no cash flow that can be used to pay for property taxes. The public prefers a parking lot to a parking garage for security and other reasons. The process of recycling real estate by converting unoccu-

pied downtown buildings into pay parking lots has been a bless- ing for Houston for many years. Cities that don’t allow this “recycling process” to occur become blighted, in my view. Everyone should watch “ParkingWars” on TV and they

would see the effects on Philadelphia, where every building is a “historical monument” or so it seems. Couldn’t have said it better myself.We have an article in

the March issue of PT on how surface lots can be beautiful. JVH

A Decade of ‘Free’ Parking (Posted Feb. 16) Cedar Rapids has a problem. The Iowa city’s downtown has

been ravaged by floodwaters and is having trouble attracting businesses and customers to its central core. So the mayor had a great idea: Let’s have a “Decade of Free Parking.”Yes, you read that right: a decade of free parking. There’s only one problem: How does the city pay for free

parking? The mayor acknowledged that parking isn’t “free” since

someone has to pay for it. However, he determined that it must be a popular feature in cities because, after all, “Free Parking” is on the corner of aMonopoly game board. It’s in a quote froma local reporter. Wow! Not a word about urban renewal, marketing the

downtown, attracting business and customers by taking the mon- ey generated and plowing it back into that central core.However, the mayor is able to save the day with free parking. Here’s a direct quote: “We have to do something that’s out

of the ordinary. Ten years of free parking would be out of the ordinary. And it certainly sends a message that we’re trying to revitalize the downtown and rebuild it over a 10-year period.” Let me see – they will commit to a decade of free parking

downtown. Then in six months, when all the people who work downtown are parking on the street, taking up all the spaces for customers, and the merchants demand parking charges back, what will that do to his commitment? Not a problem. All politicians’promises come with an expi-

ration date.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (Posted Feb. 12)

This is a potential disaster for our industry: The city ofWashington, PA, is banning the opening of any


three weeks early at

See PT

new private parking lots in the city. Why? They raised the rates for city parking downtown and guess what? The numbers went down. So to protect their income, city officials are preventing pri-

vate businesses from competing. If this happened in the private sector, the feds would be all over it for restraint of trade and lord knows what else. Of course, this is the government, so it’s OK. I’m sure city officials did no study nor asked any parking

experts. They just needed more money and raised the parking meter rates. In the private sector, everyone knows that you mess with

pricing at your peril.You study the market, do surveys and tests. You look at all the factors. I doubt if the city moms and pops did that here. And now they are fixing their disaster by keeping the rest of the market at bay. As usual, the entire raison d’etre is increasing the city’s

income. They expanded their services, have pension plans that frankly no private company could afford, and noware facing ruin and looking everywhere, including parking, for money. It’s a des- peration move, as far as I am concerned. If they can do it in Washington, PA, they can do it every-

where. Be afraid, be very afraid. JVH You could have read these entries when they were originally

posted at Parking Today’s Blog – and commented, if you liked – by logging on to and clicking on “blog.” JVH updates the blog almost every day.

PT ?

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