“Baghdad by the Bay” Nominee — Microsoft


“Baghdad by the Bay” Nominee — Microsoft

A private company getting nominated for the coveted "Baghdad by the Bay" award for the worst parking decisions? Yep.

(For new readers, the "Baghdad by the Bay" award was named for the city of San Francisco who is living up to the honor as we speak if you read the entries below. Our goal is to use it to shine some light on some of the wonderful parking decisions made not only by our municipal city dads and moms, but on other priceless parking goofs that come to our attention.)

In this case, its Microsoft, led by humanitarian and very green campaigner, Bill Gates. The company is building a 5000 car garage in downtown Redmond, Washington to help alleviate its current and future parking crunch. The "free" parking spaces, paid for no doubt by a few cents every time you buy your "Windows" upgrade, take up about six square blocks of the areaa.

I have no problem with private companies doing whatever they want. That’s what the word "private" means. However whether or not this does anything to help alleviate the parking issues in the area remains to be seen.

It would seem that a company like Microsoft with almost unlimited resources might be a perfect place to attempt to put some Shoupista philosophy into place. I wonder what would have happened if they had begun to charge for parking for their employees (and used the money to provide free lunches, or gyms, or new Macs for their research labs)…  A fee of say $20 a week might have motivated many of the Microsoft denizens to car pool, take public transportation, ride bikes, walk, move closer to work, etc. A reduction even of 20% in the number of vehicles would most likely have alleviated the problem that caused them to consider a structure in the first place and all would have been right with the world.

The garage, which will most likely sit empty two thirds of the time, could have been built elsewhere where its truly needed. 

OK, this nomination is marginal, but certainly worth considering. Comments, anyone?


PS Hat tip: Mark RImmer

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John Van Horn

4 Responses

  1. Let’s not forget other options that they could have used to solve their parking “problem”, there’s; ride share, van pooling, cash out programs and here’s one they probably never thought of at Microsoft, telecommuting. All of these are programs for which there are numerous corporate tax benefits.
    Seems like in Seattle (the model many use for Smart Growth) these other options would have been looked at first.
    Wonder what the operating costs per space are going to be for that large of an underground garage, how much energy will the ventilation and lighting consume?

  2. King County Metro (the bus system) is not really capable of getting people from Seattle and the west side across the lake to Redmond, often requiring trips to downtown Seattle for a transfer even if your destination is nowhere near there. It’s even worse for works off-peak hours.

  3. Here’s the problem with Microsoft’s parking and transportation plan, they provide free transit passes to all employees (http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070623/tc_pcworld/133351), but they also give them all the option of free parking. I can’t speak for the King County Metro system, but I know that in Jacksonville our transit agency would bend over backwards to create a dedicated bus service if someone were to guarantee several thousand riders a day. Right now they’re just talking the talk, if they want to be considered “green” they need to start the walking.

  4. Well, if there are at least 5000 people that are trying to get to Redmond, it seems that something must be available or can be made available. That’s at least 50 buses. It sounds to me like King County Metro and Bill Gates need to have a little discussion. I can’t agree with rta more.

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