Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living in the Land of "Temporary" Parking Lots

So in true City of Phoenix form, the Public Hearing I attended this morning was not a place for the City to make an actual "decision" based on hearing both sides of the coin, but to go through the motions to stay in the good graces of "Mr. Developer."

The hearing was for an extension of what will now continue to be a parking lot for another 2 years (then most likely another 2 after that, and so forth...)

This is what I said at the hearing, which apparently fell on "deaf" ears - but (I) we will continue to be vocal.  As long as I am living here and raising my family, I will continue to fight for the kind of City I want my children to grow up in.

I am here today to implore you, the City of Phoenix, to step up and become a leader.  We are here about an extension of a temporary parking lot permit.  What exactly is temporary in this City while in the midst of the worst recession of my lifetime?  Is it 5 years?  10 years?  20 years?

We are your residents.  We don’t just work downtown then drive home to Chandler or Gilbert.  We live here, raise our families, operate businesses, shop, eat and play.  What will it take for you to listen to us?  To be the change we wish to see?

Outside of the scientific facts surrounding all of the detrimental effects of a City filled with asphalt parking lots, THIS is a perfect opportunity for you, the City, and you, the Developer, to start envisioning innovative short-term uses for all of these empty and excessive lots that are being land-banked.  Progressive cities around the country are doing it so why can’t we?

It could add revenue and positive press for everyone involved, and make us, the residents, happy in return.  Creative visionaries are the pulse of every great city.  They help draw people in and make them want to stay.

If you continue to think inside of a box, not only do you run the risk of your head becoming weirdly shaped like one, but you also run the risk of driving out the very people who make the city’s heartbeat tick.

I want to know what happened to the 2004 and 2007 City Visions for a sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, progressive city.  If we wanted to live in a gated community themed place, we’d move to the suburbs.

I strongly urge you to NOT grant this extension and instead do something different, like the city of Seattle did when they put out a call for ideas seeking submissions for "creative ways in which stalled projects sites could be converted to interim uses that benefit, rather than detract from city life."

Until the funding is available to turn this lot into the sorely needed residential use it was intended for, wouldn’t it make sense to utilize all of the un and under-employed talent we have available in this City (including hundreds of architects, designers and urban planners) and find an innovative short-term use for this site, and hopefully others as well?

I thank you for your time, and leave you with the following quote by Carol Coletta, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities.

“Increasingly, we live in a world where cities compete for people, and businesses follow. This trend has largely been ignored by many cities, which are still focused on business climate and tax incentives. But I think the big question businesses will ask in the years to come is going to be 'Can I hire talented people in this city?' Cities need to be able to answer 'yes' to succeed.” 

* I also supplied the following list of alternative temporary lot uses to the City and Developer.  I hope they actually get explored (or at least make it into a recycling bin ;))
Innovative Ideas for Alternatives to the “Temporary” Parking Lot



  1. The adopted downtown plan specifically rivals the creation of surface parking lots and recommends additional open space, particularly small parks and bark parks, to support and sustain a residential population. The Phoenix Two-Step is disenchanting. Isn't it time for Rock N Roll?