Saturday, November 22, 2014

The City Hall Parking Lot

The west portal to City Hall, Dilworth Plaza, has been reinvented as Dilworth Park. Despite critical opinion, the public has spoken: new is better, especially when there's something to do. Now that the fountain has been transformed into an ice skating rink, one flanked by architecture as diverse as this city (take that, Rockefeller Center), it's found itself full of hundreds of tourists and locals enjoying the outdoors, even when it's brutally cold.

But prior to Dilworth's rebirth, you probably avoided its cracked sidewalks and impractical sunken plaza, the one with that piss smell. So you probably also didn't notice all the city employees who've been treating City Hall's north plaza like a suburban Walmart parking lot.

Well, someone took note. And then someone else. And then someone even started a Tumblr page about it.

Of all the quips about the absurdity of draping the city's most monumental feat of engineering with a make-shift parking lot, the best came in the comments section of of all places: "We have the walkability of Paris and the car-centric mentality of Dallas." We sure do, IR, we sure do.

It may seem petty. The city is growing as we speak. We're better accommodating bicyclists, we're keeping subway lines open later, we're even offering the unheard of notion of credit cards at transit stations. Market East is finally recognizing its potential, and will soon be rising. The same can be said for East Chestnut. 

So yeah, crying about a few (twenty) cars dwarfed by City Hall seems a bit silly. But while many Center City residents have long understood that parking is a privilege, not a right, the city that North Broad faces is largely another story. 

You don't even have to go to Vine to find ample parking on North Broad, and its side streets are flanked with additional parking. And when you finally do reach Vine, still a short walk from City Hall, you'll find Center City's dirty little secret (well, not so little, it's derelict parking lots cover acres of developable land.)

Meanwhile the cretins parking on the sidewalk around City Hall as if it's the Oregon Avenue median are pointing their middle finger at anyone who thinks they should be paying for the privilege of walking two blocks. 

Why, why, oh why, does City Hall require the overwhelming majority of new development offer parking spaces for the supposed sake of traffic and parking if City Hall doesn't require their employees to use them?

By the logic that parks City Hall employees on its sidewalks, we should have torn down the Logan Square neighborhood to accommodate employees in the upcoming CITC.

Again, it may seem petty, but it's representative of a bureaucracy that governs some of the greatest walkability in the nation but refuses to encourage it, or even accept it themselves.  

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