Spokane Addresses Surface Lot Blight


Spokane Addresses Surface Lot Blight


In Spokane, Washington, city leaders are looking for ways to eliminate surface lots. There are 12,658 parking spaces in the city spread out over 74 lots. Many agree, reports spokesmanreview.com, that surface lots have a negative affect on the city. Besides being unattractive, they also create a car-centered culture that decreases quality of life for people. While the cars sit empty, the land is underused; likewise, when the lot is empty, it’s taking the place of retail, restaurant, cultural and entertainment venues.

While the need for parking isn’t exactly decreasing in Spokane, there is a desire to relegate it to more compact parking garages and outlying areas. City leaders first discussed a higher tax for parking lots, but that was called punitive. Now they’ve landed on another possible solution: a tax break for developers who build on surface lots.

“If you build something other than surface parking lot, you get a tax abatement,” said Andrew Rolwes, the public policy and parking manager for Downtown Spokane Partnership who is credited with coming up with the proposal, which must be approved by the state Legislature. “Nothing like that exists on the books.”

Surface lots pop up during the early days of a city’s development. They’re cheaper to build and considered necessities when they are put in place. But when cities like Spokane are built out, they need the land for other uses. It makes sense to put parking in a place that, while still central enough to be convenient, isn’t eating up land that could be developed for business, medical, educational or other enterprises.

It’s not going to be an easy transition for parking lot operators and owners, but it isn’t an elimination – it’s a relocation. If that’s the way the city decides to move, it would be a good idea for parking professionals to take advantage of any incentives.

Read the article here.

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John Van Horn

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