Urban planning AHC: No parking

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by phx1138, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    Or, rather, no surface parking.;)

    What would it take for the U.S. (frex) to ban surface parking lots, in favor of either underground (my preference) or garages/towers? Tax them out of existence? Subsidize construction of underground lots or garages at malls? Both? Something else?

    Banning cars isn't an option, but better public transit is. (My choice, monorail.;) )

    A Nazi takeover, or something like it, isn't an option, either.;)

    POD any time after 1900.

    Side note: Once it's done, what would you replace them with?
     
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  2. Expat Well-Known Member

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    I guess the first challenge inherent in the question is to make it universal across the US.

    You’d either have to find a reason for it to have a national solution legislated by the federal government, or have it be a cultural thing that just happens to be legislated locally but universally. Or maybe just wide spread, would that be enough?

    You might have to tuck this in pre-1900, but back before drivers held a majority of economic power in the country, you could easily make a public safety case for restricting cars. There are also aesthetic arguments. It’s funny, but it would basically be a NIMBY case, where it’s decided that cars just don’t belong in cities.

    Eventually you have to relax that rule, but relaxing it in a way that still keeps cars out of site in garages and not cluttering up the streets with their non-productive bulk? Seems like circumstances could make that the logical decision.
     
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  3. Expat Well-Known Member

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    As to what to replace them with, you’d probably get away with the OTL makeup of options. This is a much more efficient way to store cars than at street level. Probably means slightly longer walks to final destination but that’s more than made up for by time spent trying to find street parking. So just walk a bit more.

    I guess if you’re taking cars off the road you free up space for jitneys and the like, that could be your last mile until the scooters come for us all.
     
  4. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    If it covered all the big cities, I'd be pretty happy--but anything that would move L.A., to name only one, would move Peoria, too.
    I'm not after keeping cars out of cities, tho better public transit doing it would be a good thing, IMO.

    What I want is an end to surface parking & only surface parking; impact on driving or number of cars is a bonus.
    Yeah, walks might be a bit longer in some cases, but what I'm seeing is the opposite. At most of the malls I can think of, it can be a long walk from the farthest surface spot to the store entrance. Replace the surface lot with a garage, you can put the same number of cars in a fraction of the area, & allow elevator rides up & down: walking access actually improves.

    The one knock on garages is, they're kinda ugly, which is why I favor underground; I tend to imagine 2-3 floors, or more, underground, rather than 5-10 above--but that could be countered by better design.

    The how I had in mind followed on the '30s & '40s: between Depression & rationing, the Feds have a brainwave & say, "We can save people money if we build better public transit, & we can help save the planet." (Yeah, maybe that last bit is ASB, so pick whatever excuse you want to continue the existing approach--& put USG money & pressure behind it.)

    What I had in mind was impacting the heat island effect & reducing the amount of pavement, replacing it (mainly) with parks; some of the larger lots, at malls, might be converted for commercial construction. (If the tax on surface parking is high enough, IMO, it would make sense for property owners to sell it off; something like that happened locally, when a mall allowed a new store to be build on what had been surface parking--& some malls have got a lot of surface parking.:eek: )

    For a government to do that OTL before about 1990 seems kind of unlikely...:cryingface:
     
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  5. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Problem is, people got cars to replace horses and buggies/wagons.
    compared to the early dirt lots(that would be surfaced and then paved in time, along with the streets--
    Buildings, be they above or below ground, take money to build and have upkeep, besides the cost of the land itself.

    How to pay for that? Hitching post and water troughs along the streets had been free. Municipalities charging for parking won't be popular, and Merchants will complain-- more so, it they are taxed directly for nearby parking.
    Expect a new group of Councilmen after the next election.
    The number of Horses and Mules peaked during WWI, and peak RR trackage was just before.

    In 1912, Ford sold 78,000 vehicles, 168,000 in 1913, 308,00 in 1914,over 700,000 by 1916
    See the trend? People will demand parking.
    Auto were seen as a solution to the city horse problem: cars didn't drop urine and manure wherever they went. What's a little smoke out the tailpipe? Everyone was mostly burning coal or wood still for power and heat. They were clean compared to steam engines, no soot and cinders flying thru the air
     
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  6. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    Hence the suggestion of a federal subsidy, along with a penalty for non-compliance.
    Can you say "parking meter"? And I imagined taxing the surface parking lots, not the street parking. (Raising the price on the meter is a good idea, tho.)
    So make the drivers pay, instead of having it come out of general revenue.
     
  7. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    which lasts till next election.
    Metered Downtown parking was also a driver for stripmalls in the suburbs
    Would be seen as Federal overreach, and it would be large amount of $$$.
    The 1944 Interstate Highway Bill passed, but had no funding. Took Ike to get that done, and that was hooking cities together-- and that was all Carrot, no Stick

    A bill with penalties wouldn't get out of Committee , let alon a Floor vote
     
  8. Expat Well-Known Member

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    I recall one of Bush II's appointees (maybe EPA) using those facts to make an argument that global warming wasn't a big deal because cars didn't poop so really things had gotten better over the years. It was adorable.

    Anyway, the point is you get the laws in place *before* drivers have a lock on power. If people want to park so bad, they can jump-start the suburbs. Even fairly early on a majority of parking demand came from non-voters, i.e. people who lived outside of big cities and drove in. There's a long window to get locals to pass this. Locals LOVE passing laws restricting non-locals.

    So if driving really is the Prime Impulse that certain people on this board seems to think it is, we'll get sprawl earlier. We'll get it with worse margins for all involved, of course. Farmland's more viable the farther back you go, so developers are paying a higher price earlier on. They'll tuck more houses onto land in the 1910s than they would've in the 20s onwards. Maybe connected houses are the norm to start, and that makes a culture of connected houses more common going forward. But at least you can park out front, and you've got a few hundred more square feet than you would've in the city. Everybody wins!
     
  9. Expat Well-Known Member

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    I think if you legislate to stop on-street parking, you're probably going to see fewer cars, inducing demand for other methods without outright outlawing cars.

    The difference between malls and a city is that you've got roughly a single destination at malls and all sorts of destinations in a city. So on average, the walk's going to be a bit longer. But there are some truly shocking stats out there about the number of hours, possibly days that urban-dwellers waste a year circling the block looking for a closer space. So they'll get that time back. Garages are efficient!

    Yeah, I don't think we can get quite on the nose of saving the planet at that time, but they Feds did a lot of things for a lot of those other reasons you mentioned during that period.

    If you start that early, you might not even get shopping malls as such. Modifying the greenbelt idea to create more parks and protected farmland doesn't require any technological innovation pre-1990. So it's certainly not ASB to consider cultural drivers that would lead us there.

    I do think it's maybe not enough to just say that if the biggest cities do this, the smaller ones will follow suit. After all, most cities have a true diversity of great ideas that are not universally adopted by other places. Local conditions matter a lot. But if you did get something like 6/10 of the biggest cities at the time adopting these rules and maybe a third to a half of the largest 100? That's definitely going to change how people think about living, and affect national land use patterns out of proportion to the populations of those towns.
     
  10. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    The swap to autos happened before any consensus could ever be reached at a local level, let alone State or Federal.
    Between 1880 and 1900, Urban/Rural went from 28% to 40%, and hit 50% by 1920

    In that time, those in the rural areas went from going into town by horse, to autos. Parking restriction would be an affront to the rural people coming into shop. Even New York State was 25% rural in 1900
    It's too soon, like introducing a sales tax in 1900, not even income tax then, and that was a decade later, and then only on the Rich.
     
  11. riggerrob Well-Known Member

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    POD 1944 the Interstate Highway Bill never passes. This makes long-distance car driving and truck transport much less viable.

    Secondly, cities are far harsher on cars blocking snow plows, effectively very banning on-street parking from October to April in northern cities.

    Thirdly, city fathers compare the long-term costs of paving enough streets, building enough bridges, etc. - for everyone to drive to work - versus subsidizing light rail mass transit.
     
  12. Thomas Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    A federal ban on surface parking isn't plausible - it's not something the US federal government considers part of its job. You really want to make land in the suburbs more expensive so that store owners don't want to buy land to support parking lots.
     
  13. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Even without that, the Nation was criscrossed with the State Highway system
    [​IMG]
    The United States System of Highways map showing the AASHO-approved U.S. numbered highways as red lines. Blue Lines was for the Interstate Higways FDR wanted
     
  14. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    You're right, but that's going to be totally a local matter. I can't see a way to induce any city to do that, even if you offer more/less free money for monorails & such.
    I believe it. As I think about it, it occurs to me, having more garages might actually mean more traffic.:eek::eek: If it's less a nightmare to find a place to park...:eek: This is most assuredly not what I wanted...
    In Britain, I think that's true. In the U.S. & Canada, I'm unaware of any moves toward anything like a ban on suburbia. AIUI (in North America, anyhow) that's outside federal jurisdiction. Changing the relevant (city or state, IDK which) tax law so farmland at city's edge isn't taxed like undeveloped commercial land:eek::rolleyes: would put a real crimp in sprawl (& it's attendant harms), plus reduce the development of the first malls. (IDK if it's possible to stop them completely, but that might do it, if it became widespread.)

    Making 'burbs more expensive in general would be a good thing, so if it's possible to price parking lots out of existence, so much the better.

    It does look like USG would have to get at it a bit sideways, bribes or pressure: more money if a locality taxes/bans surface parking, withholding highway money if not. It also strikes me that could be part of a package: money for light rail/interurban/monorail, with the "no parking lot" string attached.
    I didn't mean there'd be a domino effect, only that something that would persuade a very car-friendly city, like L.A., would equally (or more readily) persuade a smaller, less-resistant city.

    If there's federal money up for grabs, i can see quite a few smaller towns (where this isn't really an issue) taking it, in the hope they can "displace" some local tax money for other uses.
    Not attempting to kill off car use altogether (tho I wouldn't be unhappy if it got drastically reduced, in all), just to eliminate surface parking.

    There's an actual rule somewhere that says you need a set number of parking spaces for every patron of a restaurant. (IDK if it applies to theatres & such, too.) If that requirement applied, but new construction was prohibited from exceeding a given footprint (its own?), even restaurants & 7-11s & such wouldn't have surface parking. The trouble is, IDK where that rule originates--but it has the small of federal law.
     
  15. Thomas Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    That sounds like one of those policy guides that gets published by professional associations and then adopted by state legislatures to ensure that things like road widths and traffic signs are standard.
     
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  16. Expat Well-Known Member

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    The POD being that a consensus *is* reached early. People rally around all sorts of ideas, and one should certainly never overlook the ability of hyper-local constituencies to inconvenience others.

    Or bring junk science into it. If you can send people into a fit of paranoia over the miasma effect, I'm sure auto exhaust can be equally freaked out over.
     
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  17. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Thing is, the Window is very narrow, between 1900 and 1910

    That from auto production of under a thousand, to over a hundred thousand sold at the end of th decade.

    You might get some local restrictions(as OTL) but nationwide? really need to see how it gets to that point.
    Prohibition took decades to take off, with far more egregious downsides of Alcohol than motoring.
     
  18. Legofan4 American Nationalist

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    Also alcohol has millennia of historically causing problems to go with it and cars have what two decades doesn't even come close to comparable.
     
  19. Expat Well-Known Member

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    Hundred thousand sounds impressive, but that's hardly the point where they've got their hands on the national steering wheel, so to speak. Give me...oh, when did car ownership pass 30%? The window closes somewhere north of that, I reckon.

    But to give you a POD affecting the 19-oughts, let's move up WWI and get the US more heavily involved, perhaps. There might be something to play around with there.

    And just to be clear if it wasn't from my first post, I agree that national legislation is a whole lot more difficult. We'd have to get the nation up on blocks to figure out that one.
     
  20. Expat Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, and nobody ever tried to restrict alcohol use before prohibition.:winkytongue:
     
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