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Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss sent this to his colleagues following Tuesday’s night Land Use Committee meeting about Northland’s traffic mitigation plans.

Hi colleagues,

Last night was a long night and no one, including me, felt like hearing Jake talk about parking at 10:30PM. However, I want to respond with three points to the comments we heard that addressed my parking position:

  1. The connection between more parking and more traffic is well documented. To argue for less traffic but more parking is not logically coherent. I’m not going to link to all the articles and statements by the APA, Congress on New Urbanism, Strong Towns foundation, CityLab, parking consultants for the developer and the city, Donald Shoup, et al. We can all Google and research for ourselves. The findings are robust. 
  2. Uber and Lyft complicate but do not break that connection. Concerns about ride-share are well founded. (And we need state VMT fees on them.) Parking is not the right lever to address those concerns, though, because both the cure (more parking) and the disease (ride-share) have the same effects: induced traffic. Additionally, ride-share tends to cannibalize transit more than vehicle-ownership, so the ‘cure’ is not even well-targeted. The right lever is to measure total trips on site, including TNC-rides, as part of the ‘measure, monitor, enforce’ program that planning & petitioner have agreed to.
  3. ‘Measure, monitor, and enforce’ is missing the most important step, though. These are all ex-post-facto mechanisms. The petitioner has three critical stages to go: financing, leasing, and then operating. At each stage, the petitioner’s incentive is to internalize the benefits of more parking while externalizing the costs of more traffic. By the time we start measuring and monitoring, they will have signed covenants with their creditors, agreements with their tenants, and standard operating procedures with their managers that will be premised upon their parking allotment and will be almost impossible to reverse. We must bake into this project, during its very conception, the economic incentive to plan & develop away from the car. 

 

Jake Auchincloss

Councilor-at-Large, Ward 2