May 11, 2006
Guerrilla Reclamation of Parking
I remember a few years ago in Antwerp, I saw lots of cafes that had their sidewalk seating not in the sidewalk itself, but on a wooden platform built in the parking strip (and fenced from the traffic).
I compute that the monthly 'rent' on a metered parking space in Portland is $343 ($1.25/hr x 11 hours/day x 25 days paid parking). What uses would have higher value for the square footage?
May 11, 2006 11:57 AM
This sounds like a really innovative program that Portland could begin: Auction off parking spaces to the highest bidder, if they can prove that they'll put the space to the best and highest public use. Restaurant wants more outdoor sidewalk seating? Opening bid is $343 a month. Probably the city would never actually make that total $343 off any space, so anybody willing to pay at least that much will give the city a more guaranteed revenue stream from that space.
If the adjacent property owner didn't want the space, a burrito cart or other business could submit a bid -- or out-bid the restaurant for the space, if it's in a high-demand area!! But they might need to also pick up an adjacent parking space to provide room for a line and some seating...
I like where this concept is going. Cars may not always end up being the best and highest use of public space!!
May 11, 2006 12:14 PM
Bob R. Says:
If such a program were to be enacted, use should be limited to either A) businesses that front the space at ground level or B) uses which do not normally compete in a retail environment.
Why do I say this? Because chances are that nice corner cafe, coffee shop, gift shop, or restaurant, pays way more than $343 a month even for the smallest amount of square footage and street frontage. (In fact, the smallest, cheapest sidewalk frontage is probably ActivSpace, and the smallest units are not much larger than a parking space and cost more than $343/month.)
Street level retailers are not going to look too kindly on someone moving in right out front with lower cost, city-subsidized land.
So, I am in favor of attempts to put the space to good use, but it should represent a use that cannot be provided by existing downtown real estate.
Does anyone know what private parking lots charge those food cart operators?
- Bob R.
May 11, 2006 1:01 PM
In some cities in other parts of the world small shops occupy some of what would be our street parking spaces. Where there are many of these shops you find active and interesting communities arise. The effect is somewhat like our Saturday Market, but less elite and certainly much more fun. (Why do we not have a night market? Even the smallest Asian cities have them and they are terrific attractions for shopper, diners, and people watchers.)
May 11, 2006 2:39 PM
Jason McHuff Says:
Let me just agree that auctioning off the space in front of a food establishment to a competing vendor might not be a good idea...
May 15, 2006 2:53 PM
Agreed -- that in some cases, a competing business right across the sidewalk, paying less in rent, might not make the brick-and-mortar business happy.
On the other hand, there's probably an equitable solution here somewhere. As Michael points out, this could be a relatively cheap way to add vitality to a district, potentially double the amount of businesses on each street, and thus the options available to patrons.
On a somewhat related note:
When will Portland get a "shopping bridge"? Visitors to Venice and Florence know that there are bridges in the world where traffic flows down the middle, pedestrians on the side... and then businesses exist on the outside.
If gas prices ever cause the need for all those lanes to dwindle a bit, I've always thought that the Morrison Bridge would be a great candidate for this. Narrow it down to two lanes in each direction, and widen the sidewalks enough to allow businesses along the periphery!!
...but that's just one idea. Other places where a shopping bridge could work?