Throughout the pandemic, Mountain View opened up Castro Avenue in downtown to pedestrians, preserving the downtown very important even because the pandemic raged. This transformation, made unexpectedly in the midst of a disaster, is probably the most effective factor to occur to our downtown in many years. The success of the opening of Castro Avenue helps to put naked one of many core truths of our downtown — that it succeeds despite, and never due to, vehicles. Presently many if not most individuals go to downtown utilizing their automotive. Sadly for them, the expertise is marred by the frustration of coping with parking — on a busy evening, chances are you’ll be caught for minutes merely attending to a storage. You then have to seek out an empty spot, stroll down the steps, after which stroll anyplace from 100 toes to half a mile to get to your precise vacation spot.
I’d posit that a greater world is feasible. You shouldn’t want a automotive in an effort to benefit from the facilities that our metropolis has to supply. In a greater world we’d have a plethora of housing constructed close to our downtown such that anybody who wished to may fairly afford to reside inside straightforward strolling distance; our streets could be so calm and protected that anybody could be snug driving their bike throughout town on a Friday evening; our buses could be frequent and quick sufficient that, somewhat than spending 10 minutes attempting to park or ready for an Uber which will by no means come, you might as a substitute wait 5 minutes for the bus house; and guests from up and down the Peninsula would be capable to take Caltrain downtown after which stroll or bike to their vacation spot as their preferences dictated, without having to clog up Mountain View’s roads with their vehicles. And, after all, we’d nonetheless have parking garages, however they’d not be the one choice for most individuals.
However that isn’t the world that we reside in. Few individuals reside inside strolling distance of downtown, our streets should not snug or protected sufficient to bike on at evening, and there may be little transit serving downtown, particularly at peak hours.
Sadly, the Metropolis Council has not prioritized fixing these points. As an alternative, we’re actively contemplating spending public funds on increase extra parking. On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the council will likely be contemplating spending $24 million to assemble a brand new storage, partially utilizing funds extracted from an inexpensive housing growth. Within the best-case state of affairs, this storage will sit largely empty and function extra capability to permit individuals to park barely nearer to their locations. Within the worst case, the storage will likely be full and we may have but extra site visitors on our roads. Extra automotive site visitors means extra individuals dying in crashes, extra youngsters creating bronchial asthma from tailpipe emissions and tire mud, extra greenhouse gases warming our planet, and extra time wasted sitting in site visitors.
If these causes should not sufficient for you, then maybe the expense of the endeavor gives you pause. Palo Alto not too long ago constructed a 636-space storage for $50 million ($78,000 per spot), plus the price of land and greater than $1 million per yr in upkeep — in distinction, that is most likely sufficient to run two to 3 occasions the present Mountain View group shuttle’s service indefinitely, and even in 2019 the group shuttle had 750 riders per weekday — seemingly as many individuals as that Palo Alto storage will likely be serving.