Dispersion – What will it mean to Parking


Dispersion – What will it mean to Parking

So, our betters have been telling us for years that living in cities, in small apartments cheek by jowl, is best. It means we don’t have to destroy the planet with automobiles, we can walk to work and play, and all will be right with the world.

Suddenly we are attacked by a pandemic and find that our most densely populated city is struck with the most severe course of the disease. Cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and the like are seeing the virus attacking at will. Smaller cities and rural areas not so much.

Astrid has posted a long piece on Park News called “The Coming Age of Dispersion” which posits that perhaps we are better off living in small cities spread throughout the country rather than in mega cities along the coastline. I strongly recommend you take a few minutes and read the article.

I live in Los Angeles, but am fortunate to live in a ‘neighborhood.’ It is middle class, however the housing prices would bely that.  There are many families with kids of all ages. They play in the streets and run from house to house collecting their friends and seem to be having a wonderful time. We are within walking distance of restaurants and bodegas, and most of the kids walk to school, most often connected to a parent. It is like the small town I grew up in half a century ago. LA is like a bunch of small towns that have grown together into a mega city. The density isn’t like a New York or London.

But we are seeing that many people are moving even from my neighborhood to more rural environments. Many smaller cities like San Antonio, Austin, Salt Lake City, and Grand Rapids are attracting the brain trust from Silicon Valley and the like much faster than San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Washington DC.

Frankly, its safer, even in times of no pandemic, to drive in your personal vehicle by yourself or your family, than take a subway or a bus. Are we seeing a paradigm shift in how we will be living in the future, away from megacities to country? And If so, what will that mean to parking?

Its certainly something to consider. Do we focus on the vagaries of on street parking as determined by city governments? Are shopping complexes in more rural areas going to require parking structures, and if so, will they be as large and complex as those in New York or LA?

How will we as an industry have to adjust to these changes, if they happen at all?

Something to think about as we social distance…


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John Van Horn

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