Olympia, Wa Here we go again


Olympia, Wa Here we go again

The downtown merchants in Olympia, WA, have decided to tax themselves to put up a parking garage in the downtown area. Read about it here.

They figure the new structure will cost $650 per year per space.  That’s $1.75 per space per day.  Are you telling me that the merchants are afraid that local shoppers won’t come down town if they have to pay $1.75 to park. Sheesh, they pay $5 to valet their cars at the fancy restaurants.

Parking isn’t what attracts people to downtowns and shopping malls. Its what the Mall and the downtown brings to them. Great shopping, nice restaurants, a pleasant atmosphere, people watching. 

Face it, Olympia Merchants, this is "Field of Green" time — If you build it they will come — Parking or not.

My buddy Bill Francis (now a wheel at Walker Parking Consultants) did a study a number of years ago for a developer in LA. He found that people will go to a venue if the attraction is great enough, parking or not. AND, if the attraction is great enough, they are more than willing to pay for parking.

Check out Downtown San Jose, California — Years ago they built lots of parking. But people still didn’t "come on down."  The downtown merchants blamed the big shopping malls on the edge of town.  Did it ever occur to them that the lack of interesting things to see and do downtown may have made a difference?

Come on, Olympia. Charge for onstreet and off street parking, use the money to clean up your streets, alleyways, and parks. Renew the lighting, storefronts, and attract some great stores, bars, restaurants, movies, and the rest.  . — Remember, charge more for onstreet than offstreet. Charge enough for onstreet to ensure that 15% of the spaces are free at all times. Install Valet parking in the evenings and on weekends. Hire competent operators to run and market your on and off street parking.

How about setting up a shuttle service to bring people down from outlying neighborhoods where they can easily park?  Sorry, I’m getting out of control here.

You will be overrun with people


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John Van Horn

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