Free Parking and How to Stop a Bullet

VSmoothe @ABO alerts us to Oakland’s updated car parking drama today.

Here’s a relevant quote from today’s StreetsBlog:

“The root of the problem is that none of these streets were designed for cars in the first place. So I think it’s a little bit backwards for the kneejerk reaction always to be prioritizing cars.”

I agree.

Free parking is worthless to me. Parking spaces are DEAD SPACE. It’s like having zombies in your living room. You can’t put anything useful there, because the zombies are decomposing, messy, giving off poisonous gases.

Much like a cemetary, a parking lot is not so useful to the living.

If you look at old videos on youtube of people in public places, you notice that they walk all around the plazas and streetscapes haphazardly. There are no cars to watch out for. Well-to-do people are relatively free and relaxed in cities, even with the advent of streetcars, because these are slow on fixed guideways. Bicycles don’t kill pedestrians at stoplights in that era, unlike today’s cars.

Councilmember Kernighan, Shame on You and other businesses for promoting ecologically irresponsible “free parking”!

People should pay for the PRIVILEGE of leaving their oil-dripping heaps of glass, steel, vinyl and petro in our shared PUBLIC SPACES.

These spaces could otherwise be used for outdoor cafe seating, walking on wider sidewalks, REAL parks (search the net for “park(ing) day“), small sports fields — soccer, basketball, you name it; small garden plots, shrines, pull-up bars, massage tables, cooking classes, flea markets, lemonade and hotdog stands or any other socially useful purpose.

Cars and parking lots are dead zones at best. The best kind of parking lots are underground, where these polluting death beasts belong. Hidden.

I think that the best uses of these lots are for farmers markets (Temescal on Sundays), mini-golf, karaoke bars, reverting to natural habitat, housing or business spaces.

I assert everywhere and always that parking and car driver amenities should be limited to the maximum extent possible.

The street is our last common, public space we all share. What a shame for cars to gobble it all up. We should do as Copenhagen did: Transform Oakland from car-centric to people- and nature-centric! One street block at a time.

It’s all about creating a place worth caring about which is walkable, not retaining our vast WalMart parking lots, vast Oracle Arena parking lots, multitudes of BART parking lots. Walk, people! Lose weight the natural way. Avoid car payments, parking tickets, gas fill-ups, oil changes, crash liability insurance, speeding tickets, collisions, stress, boredom, fright, animal car-kill, road rage and zipcar. Work fewer hours to supporting a bad habit.

Less truly is more.

Except for public amenities. Just a few months ago, there was a bench outside my apartment complex. But it’s been removed. Lame!

***

How to stop a bullet? Jobs. People who are comfortable in life don’t go causing trouble.

Example: A new gang in LA: solar installers. (Homeboy Industries.) Could Oakland “employ” this model with a push from Van Jones, Coach Carter and FAB? Indeed, why don’t Oakland Tech and OUSD at the high school level offer vocational job skills classes? Car and bicycle and house repair, woodworking, urban agriculture and home cooking, financial literacy… you know — useful, transferable skills. I know Berkeley USD is ahead of the curve here with their elementary school gardens which supply local restaurants such as Chez Panisse and Flora under the “Green Leaf” BUSD brand; not sure about the non-food items above.

But playing devil’s advo, supporting social programs such as these from private donations and foundation funding only support more “social welfare” programs right? Which in turn support an ever-growing human population on a finite planet…

Still, I support re-localization and de-globalization, because ultimately these WILL provide more fulfillment and make the future a tad easier.

We’ll stil face famine, war, natural disaster. But at least we’ll be a bit better prepard for this future, without our up-till-now fossil-fueled cushion.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s