Land Use

California CRAs Rush to Pave Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot

|

Tim Cavanaugh has written before about the failure of California's Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) to bring promised benefits to communities and about cities' shameless attempts to suck up as much money as they can before Gov. Jerry Brown shuts off the tap.

Here's one more reason to hate the CRAs: They have a nasty habit of subsidizing enormous parking projects. Los Angeles's CRA is scrambling to fund a $52 million parking "improvement" for a billionaire's art museum, but as a Bay Area blogger with the pseudonym "Drunk Engineer" writes, Los Angeles is hardly alone:

The vast majority of redevelopment funds has been spent promoting autocentric development. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, redevelopment agencies leveled whole neighborhoods to make way for new highways. When that became unfashionable, planners left the homes intact but still didn't give up on autocentric design. Billions of tax dollars have been poured into strip malls and other retail. Boosting sales tax revenue is the name of the game. And since transit riders are perceived as spending less than car drivers, redevelopment was about enticing shoppers to drive and park in the neighborhood.

The Drunk Engineer then goes on to catalog a handful of recent subsidized parking projects in downtown San Jose alone which have received hundreds of millions in CRA money.

As Robert Fogelson wrote in his definitive urban history Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, mid-century urban planners and businessmen were convinced that subsidized parking and eminent domain-ilicious highway projects were the only way to revive America's ailing urban centers. Anyone who's ever had the misfortune of existing outside of an automobile in one of these "redeveloped" downtowns can see the downsides of these schemes, but California's local politicians remain undeterred. Nationwide, cities are finally coming to their senses and realizing the folly in underpricing and overmandating parking, but California is plowing full steam ahead with projects straight out of a GM exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair.

California cities could use a lesson from UCLA's own Donald Shoup, the "prophet of parking," on how to undo America's massive parking subsidies ("somewhere between what we pay for Medicare every year and national defense"):

Advertisement

NEXT: Harvard Law Prof Tells Senate that Congress Can Make You Buy Broccoli

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, redevelopment agencies leveled whole neighborhoods ToonTowns to make way for new highways.

    1. That made me lol so hard. Roger Rabbit! You win the comments section for today.

  2. STEVE SMITH LOVE COUNTING CROWS! STEVE TOUR WITH THEM FOR WOODSTOCK ’99! WHERE YOU THINK LEAD SINGER GET HAIR STYLE? STEVE RAPE AND HAIR TURN LIKE STEVE’S!

    1. I was thinking Joni Mitchell…

      1. Well maybe you should have been more clear, then. I can only work with what I’m given.

  3. Julian Assange was just nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize-Epi you’re next!

    1. Your wit is even duller when you’re not illiterately spoofing yourself, rectalpussy. That’s quite an accomplishment. You should probably go back to pretending to be a crazy blogwhore; at least then you had the excuse of insanity. Now you just have mediocrity, albeit with better spelling and punctuation.

      1. Don’t you mean bitter spilling and pontification, perhaps?

      2. Aw hell, it’s actually blither swilling and exsanguination. My bad.

        1. Lousy firefox spellchecker strikes again….

        2. “bitter spewing and flaggelation”

          1. “filter brewing and spallation”

            1. “viler stewing and miscegenation”

              1. “card renewing and misinformation”

          2. bitter spewing and flatulence

      3. Epi, I never claimed to be sane-How fucking dull. Thanks for your kind advice but I’m not finished playing with my mice

        1. and Wind Rider you’re dull and witless- I hope you have a big dick; otherwise kill yourself now

        2. I’m not finished being crazy yet! LOVE ME

    2. NOTHING SCARE STEVE. UNTIL STEVE CLICK ON RECTAL NAME. AWFULNESS OF WEBSITE MAKE STEVE COWER IN CAVE.

      1. CAVEMEN ARE HOT
        -OK NAKED TIED-UP CAVEMEN WHO LIKE TO ROLE PLAY AND HAVE THEIR BODIES PAINTED WITH JUICE FROM FRUIT RATHER SQUEEZED BETWEEN HER BREASTS AND LEGS
        -SO WHAT BITCHES

        1. I hate myself.

          1. Helle, I thought you were studying biology (without ethics), and now you’re giving psychiatric advice? That’s one fucking interesting shingle you’ll be hanging above your door: HELLE the biologist, psychiatrist, mouse killer, stalker and the proponent of the Dong/injustice theory

  4. Oh wow, OK that makes a lot of sense dude. Wow.

    privacy-tools.au.tc

    1. Because you flattered me, I will gladly buy one of your privacy tools.

      1. You’re handsome-can I have my Porsche 964 Turbo now?

        1. Just pretend your not here Stephen, it’ll retreat eventually.

          1. Brandeis University

            TUITION AND EXPENSES
            Cost of Attendance $53,988
            Tuition and Fees $40,274
            Room and Board $11,214
            Books and Supplies $1,000
            Other Expenses $1,500
            Remedial Grammar $9.99

            1. Blogwhore University

              TUITION AND EXPENSES
              Cost of Attendance – $139.99-149.99
              Internet Bills – $19.99
              Room and Board – give head to landlord
              Books and Supplies – books? What are those?
              Cucumbers – $20-30
              Pickling – one briny, well used cunt
              Cat Food for 20 Cats – $100
              Cat Feces and Urine – free

              1. Helle, one day you’ll get laid and not be so bitchy

            2. $1000 for books and supplies? Is this from 1992?

              1. It’s Brandeis..you don’t expect them to study too?

  5. Since this is, well, sort of a chat room:
    “State violated law in passing greenhouse gas plan”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/…..z1CwuwtxLR

    1. One top rated answer:

      I have no sympathy for companies waiting to use cap and trade. Change and stop completely the pollution. Find another way

      One of the things I don’t miss about California.

      1. Amakudari|2.3.11 @ 9:02PM|#
        “One top rated answer:…”

        It *is* the SF Chron; Marxists are common.

        1. Although, interestingly enough, nothing brought out the inner rightie on SFGate like discussions about public sector unions.

          1. Dunno why that is; the public union pension issue put to the voters was pushed by a guy well left of the SF norm. And it got a *lot* of traction…………
            Maybe “equality” is now biting the unions in the butt?

      2. What do you expect from people who believe in the healing power of crystals and magnets.

  6. (“somewhere between what we pay for Medicare every year and national defense”)

    Not that the parking subsidies shouldn’t go away, but this claim seems rather far-fetched–he’s saying the subsidy cost is sandwiched between the #2 and #3 items on the federal budget? Or is this the total of all state and local levels nationwide? (sorry, in a place where the video won’t load)

    1. He’s not talking about direct federal expenditures on parking, of which there are practically none. He’s talking about the value of the total subsidy provided both directly (through ubiquitous free/underpriced on-street parking) and indirectly (through ubiquitous minimum off-street parking requirements on developments built post-WWII). When you consider that in most of America the amount of developed land used for parking exceeds the amount used for buildings, it actually sounds quite believable.

      That having been said, I’m not sure how he reached that specific conclusion, and it’s a rough estimate at best.

      1. I see. Thanks for the explanation.

        I have to wonder what sort of metric he’s using on the costs, and whether it accounts for inflation, etc. Considering the development of infrastructure to accomodate automobiles, I’m not so sure this wouldn’t have been inevitable anyway.

        1. I recently had a look at how they built things in Austria, and I noticed in the mountain valleys they keep paving to an absolute minimum. Not because they hate cars, but because flooding is a huge danger there, and ever square foot of paved space adds to the danger. Most roads are two-way, ONE LANE. When you meet oncoming traffic, you edge halfway out onto the grass, the other guy does the same, and you pass very slowly. Only the major roads are two lanes, and the four lane highways, well, those are the autobahns. Parking is scarce, and expensive. And, guess what! People cope. And live very comfortably. We spend enormous amounts of money building roads that are long, wide, and thin, so every 10 years or so we have to rebuild them almost from scratch. If not for the boatloads of federal regulations on transportation money, we would be a lot saner about this.

  7. “Given the size of your readership, some of them may well have been CONCEIVED in a parked car.”

    Hell, given the commentariat, I’d say the percentage conceived in parked cars would be quite high.

    Don’t make me name names….

    1. STEVE SMITH TRY CONCEIVE IN PARKED CAR. BETTER MUSIC IN CAR BUT MORE ROOM FOR HIKER RAPE IN WOODS. STEVE LIKE RAPE IN WOODS BETTER.

  8. North of Edinger on Bristol, Santa Ana enblightified all the property facing Bristol for miles. Once so designated, most of that area has been converted to vacant lots and boarded up houses, except for a long strip on the east side of Bristol from Edinger to Wilshire that’s a free parking lot. The only nearby shops already have nearby parking. Just look at the Google satellite view and it shows what parking lot nearby is inadequate, a private highschool.

  9. But if we don’t use the CRA, how will we ever build a shiny new stadium to appease our mighty football gods?

    1. High speed rail to the station.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.