City Journal Winter 2014

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Winter 2014
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Emily Washington
The Secret Life of Parking Lots « Back to Story

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I think people try to plan programs to improve policy or approaches without taking into account how new technologies might change underlying conditions making the work of the planners counterproductive. For example, the self driving car, if widely adopted, as it most likely will be at some point, will eliminate the need for parking to be adjacent to where we want to go. The car would simply drop the person off and circulate or go to a nearby multi-story garage, then pick the person up wherever they wish to be picked up, likely by signaling this desire on a smart phone or tablet computer. This would create wide swathes of empty unused parking spaces in suburbs and cities, even on the sides of roads and driveways and even home garages. We need to allow or even encourage technology to solve these problems rather than merely taking a planning approach. Parking lot blight will likely be an issue discussed in future years. I would guess that many good uses could be put to such spaces including parkland, urban agriculture, small wildlife preserves, public parks,, private micropayment parks, etc. New commerciual uses will likely arise as well. Lets not look backwards and project policy on a moving target, but instead look forward and encourage the development of new and surprising innovative formats and uses.
Nice review. Also worth a look:
http://www.theparkinglotmovie.com/