Parking alternatives welcome

We find it refreshing (and surprising) that the increased fee for downtown parking meters has spurred a second look at alternative ways to address the downtown parking issue. As drivers migrate to the free parking in neighborhoods to avoid the doubled rates at the meters, it becomes increasingly apparent that a multi-million dollar concrete parking garage is not the most efficient way to go.

The Downtown Chico Business Association, which has pushed so hard for the past few years to build a new structure at Second and Wall streets, is now advocating the use by downtown employees and business owners of free bus passes and pre-paid parking permits to the 10-hour meters as ways to free up more downtown parking spots. Maybe the employers could help pay for their workers’ parking permits.

Despite some indications to the contrary, Chico does not exist in a vacuum, immune from the rest of the world. And as ideological as it may sound, the truth is that with the current state of the things, like the environment, geo-political relations and the continued downward spiral of the Third World (including the Gulf Coast of the United States), we should not be pushing for any project that encourages people to drive, pollute the air and consume oil.

Perhaps other alternatives, including more diagonal parking in place of parallel spots, as well as city program to educate Chico drivers about the downtown’s already abundant parking availability—print and post a parking-places map on the city Web site and around town—will be included in the upcoming city-funded parking charrette.

Of course, once it starts raining, drivers will probably flock back downtown, doubled rates or not, and the alternatives will be dropped and forgotten like a quarter down the gutter.