More Parking Is Needed In Our Downtowns

It rare that I agree with Jeff Pelline at the Sierra Foothills Report blog, but in this case we are in agreement, both Grass Valley and Nevada City needs more parking spaces. More physical spaces and more disability spaces. Not so sure that Asheville is a good comparison to local economic development.

Grass Valley is the economic hub for over 70,000 people living in the surrounding county. There have been multiple strategy meetings on parking in Grass Valley. One workshop with a consultant recommend making Grass Valley a walking friendly city, restricting parking. As I pointed out to the consultant that might make environmentalist happy, but it was not going to make those 70,000 residence living in the county happy, which the merchants and city government want to shop local. It is often easier to drive to Auburn for shopping than find a parking place in Grass Valley. Parking will be even more convenient when more big box stores come to North Auburn.

We are an aging community with lots of retired folks, 22.5% over 65, many who have mobility issues. While Grass Valley and Nevada City have the minimum required number of disability parking spaces, it would be more convenient for seniors if there were more disability parking.

Jeff writes on his blog:

“By investing in downtowns rather than dispersal, cities can boost jobs and local tax revenues while spending less on far-flung infrastructure and services. In Asheville, North Carolina, Public Interest Projects found that a six- story mixed-use building produced more than thirteen times the tax revenue and twelve times the jobs per acre of land than the Walmart on the edge of town. (Walmart retail tax based in national average for Walmart stores.) (Scott Keck, with data from Joe Minicozzi / Public Interest Projects),” according to a book called “Happy City.”

I have been investigating the cities that are going to participate in the economic development panel at the ERC’s 2015 Annual Regional Economic Development Summit. One of those cities is Asheville NC. I was impressed with the Asheville’s economic development team of seven people. They have a consolidated effort, all on the city payroll, including a real estate manager.

In Nevada County we have a disperate effort that is under funded, with multiple competing fiefdoms who want to lead the effort. It is unfair to compare Asheville’s economic development with Nevada County’s.  Asheville maybe a good example to emulate, but they are not a good economic development comparison, with more money, more people and a strong economic development plan.

  • Sam Powers, Director of Economic Development
  • Nikki Reid, Real Estate Manager
  • Brenda Mills, Economic Development Specialist
  • Stephanie Monson, Urban Planner III
  • Ellen McKinnon, Real Estate Coordinator
  • Jon Fillman, Economic Development Specialist
  • Caroline Long, Administrative Assistant

Also, I think that Grass Valley has a height restriction on buildings. As I recall the Bret Harte had a problem when is converted from a hotel to senior home. They were restricted to four stories.  Wonder how four stories would pencil out?

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About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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2 Responses to More Parking Is Needed In Our Downtowns

  1. jeffpelline says:

    To be sure, Asheville is a bigger city but we have much to learn from it. A town just outside of Asheville is home to the new Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. facility.

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    • Russ Steele says:

      ERC is inviting the location expert that assisted Sierra Nevada Brewing find the location to an ERC strategic planning meeting later this year. Stay tuned.

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