Parking: The more you have, the less you need.
As convoluted as that might sound to the uninformed, it simply means that the more actual infrastructure you clear to build it, the less demand you’ll ultimately have for it. It’s a devil’s bargain. Jenkintown does not have a parking problem. It never did. It has a planning problem. If you look at our downtown on a satellite view, you’ll see more space devoted to parking than to actual buildings. Most of that parking is owned by private interests that keeps it mostly empty for most of the day.
Jenkintown’s solution was to get into the parking business itself, create more empty space, and pay dearly for it. As a result, it’s parking fund will continue to run a deficit for years to come, and this deficit will be made up in higher taxes. Therefore, we as taxpayers subsidize the businesses downtown, many of which already have their own parking lots, so we in effect subsidize those as well.
But no matter how much we build, the perception to people who come here by car is that there will never be enough parking. If they can’t park within twenty feet of the door, they will feel inconvenienced. This, despite the fact that when they go to Hatboro or Chestnut Hill or Manayunk, they accept the “inconvenience” as part of the experience.
And once more with feeling: Until PennDOT mitigates the traffic on Old York Road and restores on-street parking, Jenkintown’s downtown will never revive itself.
What isn’t unique to Rochester, is that there is actually far more parking than there are people. In America, the estimate is roughly 800 million parking spaces (for a population slightly over 300 million in our country, and far fewer drivers than that). We don’t have a supply problem. This is a demand problem…