Today, the City of Phoenix Board of Adjustment signed off on the City's request for a parking lot on the former Sahara/Ramada Inn site, which was also the ASU Residential Commons for the first two years of the Downtown Phoenix campus's existence. Despite a wonderful presentation by Sean Sweat (@PhxDowntowner on Twitter) with sound science to his credit, the city put big corporate interests over those who live here.
While I'm irked at the City's underwhelming lack of creativity for its urban area, I'm not really surprised. Tweets from City officials, including the Mayor, put the nail in the coffin for anything but a parking lot at this site.
I'm working on a post that has my opinions on this issue. I think if I published it now, I'd be far too angry. (Even though I am.) But for now, here's how the meeting progressed. I live-tweeted (to my Twitter account, @edwardjensen) the developments for today's meeting.
Though I did have a couple observations. First, the meeting seemed rigged. The board recognized that most in the packed City Council Chambers supported a dog park. What wasn't recognized was that in supporting a dog park, we opposed a parking lot. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Second, the City's arguments had holes and gaps so big that a third grader could find them. The City maintained that a parking lot doesn't increase greenhouse gases, pollution, and traffic. While inherently that might be true, one has to understand the primary user of this parking lot: cars. It's the cars that emit greenhouse gases and pollution as well as increase traffic. In addition, it maintained that this parking lot would be sustainable because 7% of it would have landscaping. Oh boy…what about that other 93%?
Plus, as was noted in Mr. Sweat's presentation (and reminded to me in the comments to this post after the fact), parking lots are inherently bad for the environment. They are hotter than the surrounding area, increasing ozone and particulate matter to dangerous levels. Parking lots release ozone, which, despite being a good thing for the atmosphere hundreds of miles up, is harmful at ground level. 1,200 residents in Taylor Place in addition to all those who walk nearby will be affected.
As promised, the live-tweets are after the jump.