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June 16, 2012

King Car: Cut Mass Transit, Put Up A Parking Lot



The city's URA, which is the commonality between BigMoney and Politicians in the Venn diagram which is Pittsburgh, has spent $4 million of the public's money to tear down a building and put up a parking lot.

We may have one on-street bike corral at OTB Southside and another in Shadyside, but there is no doubt that the Car is still King in the eyes of those who set the city's course. Future revenue streams? Parking. Future development? Parking.

(Freaky Friday Fringe Sidebar: Can it be that government - which is arguably addicted to booze tax, tobacco tax and gambling revenue, is similarly addicted to parking revenue? And if goverment tends to be addicted to the Cashflow of Sin, can it be that the only reason marijuana isn't legalized (and taxed) is the financial interest of the incarceration industy? Sorry. Forget I mentioned it.)

At the same time, funding for mass transit (which has no advocates among real estate developers and their politicians) is being slashed. Each bus load of passengers removes the need for 35 daily parking spaces.

The cost-effective way to build the downtown economy is to use the precious, limited land for actual business and industry (you know, economic activity) and to use mass transit to reduce the parasitic demand for downtown parking.

From the Post-Gazette: Saks site to become retail space, parking garage:
Once a haven for upscale retailers like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, the former Saks Fifth Avenue department store on Smithfield Street, Downtown, soon could be a stop for Chevys and Hondas.

The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority board moved Thursday to buy the vacant Saks building for $4 million, with the intent to demolish it and replace it with a public parking garage and street-level retail.


In our market driven economy, anybody who can buy a building downtown, raze it and invest in a parking lot is free to do so. What's perverse is watching local government (URA/Ravenstahl) do it for the investment community with public funds.

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