Tacoma Urbanist

Oct. 14, 2009 at 12:01am

Tacoma City Council Candidates Kevin Rojecki v. Victoria Woodards on Parking Issues


Rojecki                                            Woodards


Political forums in Tacoma often allow candidates to make broad platitudes and generalizations, and visioning statements.  Nothing wrong with these in moderation.

However, voters are often left with little no substantive basis on which to support candidates and are instead expected to base their vote on the number of yard signs they see, political flyers, statements from special interest groups, and newspaper opinions to make their voting decision.

Below, I compare the answers of the candidates to a critical urban issue, off-street parking requirements, and invite you to draw your own conclusion as to the best answer.

Knowledge of Off-Street Parking Issues

As has been often been discussed over the last few years, Tacoma's reformation of its strip mall mandating off-street parking requirements has been one of the essential regulatory reforms for the City of Tacoma.

Cities such as Seattle, Bellingham, San Francisco, Olympia have long ago removed their off-street parking requirement in their central business district allowing their downtowns to infill and become vibrant.

Below are the compared responses of Kevin Rojecki and Victoria Woodards on Off-Street parking issues that Tacoma is revising. Following, is the correct "answer" a statement on off-street parking by the widely world's foremost parking expert Donald Shoup. (Professor Shoup has published extensive peer reviewed articles on parking and is the author of The High Cost of Free Parking)

Who do you think demonstrated better knowledge Rojecki or Woodard?

Here is the question posed recently to the candidates in the Tacoma Sun:

6) Building Walkable Neighborhood Centers and Downtown

Cities such as Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, San Francisco have removed their off-street parking requirements to allow parking to be built based on market demand.  This also has the benefit of reducing sprawl, reducing pollution and allowing the construction of walkable neighborhoods.

Do you support removing the off-street parking requirement in downtown Tacoma and in Tacomas mixed use centers?

Response of Kevin Rojecki:

Yes, with provisions that periodically evaluate the reduction in off-street parking requirements.  By reducing the off-street parking requirements the city would effectively establish a plan that promotes higher density and pedestrian friendly mixed-use centers.  The reduced requirements would encourage alternate transportation choices such as bicycles, streetcars, buses, and light rail, all which I strongly support. 

If these requirements are approved, the city must move toward a multi-modal transportation system and provide capital investment in high capacity alternatives while prioritizing transportation corridors in areas near mixed-use centers. 

It is essential that Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma work together to find solutions that make the reduction in off-street parking sustainable for the future and meet the intended goals of reducing sprawl and developing neighborhoods we can walk in.

Response of Victoria Woodards:

Yes. Building walk-able neighborhoods creates successful opportunities to restore downtown and enhance our business districts into safer, greener, urban communities to be enjoyed by families, shoppers, tourists, cyclists, and diverse groups from the city.

Ok. Let's see how they did.

Answer by Parking Guru UCLA Professor Donald Shoup:

From Shoup's text High Cost of Free Parking

Off-Street parking requirements do not solve transportation problems but make them worse.

By prescribing high doses of parking spaces, planners are poisoning the city.

Parking requirements thus reduce the CBD's attractiveness of undermining the essential features that make it attractive - high density and accessibility.

Alternative Answer by Mott Smith:

Onsite parking requirements, which have crept into many cities' laws over the past 50 to 70 years, have sucked the potential out of commercial properties on main streets and in downtowns everywhere. Perhaps more than anything else, rules requiring onsite parking -- to be distinguished from "on street" or "offsite" parking -- have created the blighted conditions that characterize many older North American commercial districts and boulevards.

Who had the best answer Rojecki or Woodards? Why?

comments [3]  |  posted under Tacoma


by fredo on 10/14/2009 @ 7:43am
Rojecki's response reads like it was lifted from a text book while Woodard's sounds off the cuff. But the responses are consistent with Shoup's and are essentially indistinguishable.

I'd like the candidates to respond to these questions as well:

Should Tacoma spend money on "wants" when many basic "needs" go unfulfilled?

Should city employee pay and benefit levels mirror those earned by average Tacomans? Also, should we provide defined benefit pensions?

by Erik on 10/14/2009 @ 9:41am
Should Tacoma spend money on "wants" when many basic "needs" go unfulfilled?

Besides filling all of the potholes, what needs are going unfilled in Tacoma in your opinion fredo?

by fredo on 10/14/2009 @ 10:02am
The city needs a healthier reserve fund. Revenue which is in excess of need funding should be placed there. Once basic needs are met and a healthy reserve has been fully funded the city should begin dismantling the B & O tax.