Your Views: City Council should walk away from bad parking deals

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Photo Credit: Cody Mello-Klein
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To the editor:

On Feb. 19, Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak told reporters that “sometimes you have to walk away” from a bad deal, in this instance the deal one of baseball’s all-around-best-players, Manny Machado, was seeking. And President Trump recently said something similar, “Sometimes you have to walk [away from a bad deal], and this was one…” regarding North Korea’s demand for sanctions relief without a commitment to fully denuclearize.

By contrast, Alexandria’s past city councils never met a deal from which they were willing to walk away, which is why today Old Town has a parking problem. Every time a business came in for a parking reduction, past city councils rubber stamped it.

Staff would devise some sort of study showing there was enough parking because parking garages that many Old Town visitors reflexively avoid weren’t full. City council consequently approved a new formula for reducing the parking requirement over one of former Mayor Allison Silberberg’s legendary lonely dissents. Somehow, her MFA in playwriting prepared her better for counting cars than the graduate courses in urban planning city hall planning and zoning staffers are expected to have taken. Today’s university urban planning departments have devolved into degree mills for rubber stamping whatever developers want.

Because past city councils couldn’t muster the will to ever say “no” to a parking reduction, proverbially packing 10 pounds of stuff into a five-pound sack Alexandria-style, today’s largely new city council confronts the consequences of past city councils’ actions and finds it must extend to however many adjacent blocks poco-a-poco petition for pay-to-park.

We can hope that this parking fiasco is a lesson for the new city council that sometimes it has to walk away from a bad deal, lest the cumulative consequences of many bad deals overwhelm it.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria

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