Tag Archives: parking

Good Riddance, Fred Phelps

21 Mar

A busy week with late nights, so posting has been regrettably light. So, with the weekend approaching, I leave you with these thoughts: 

1. While Mark Croce may have a right to charge up to $75 for a day’s worth of parking at the corner of Blight and Squalor, Buffalo is not a $75-per-day parking city. We don’t have a parking shortage, nor do we have any particular need to restrict access to our downtown, so something like Uber’s “surge pricing” – something else we don’t have in Buffalo –  is a ridiculous notion.

The barrage of counterarguments from people upholding the right to cheat tourists was astonishing.  Airline fares! Hotel rates! Well, sure. But Croce’s lot was charging 1500% more than a regular Thursday, and double to triple its usual “event” rate. “They could just drive around” is the method suggested for tourists unfamiliar with downtown Buffalo to find something else. True, I guess – that’s should maybe be our local tourism slogan to replace “For Real” or “Sense of Place”.  “Just Drive Around a Bit” that doesn’t make an outrageous markup any less so. Most of the lots – including the FN Center’s own directly across the street from the arena – were $20 for the day. If you were willing to walk a bit, they were less. But part of that “choice” is predicated on you being somewhat familiar with where you are and how to get around. I can’t imagine why anyone would pay $60 to park outside in the Buffalo snow, and the law might not consider it to be gouging under the law, but I think it’s someone taking unfair advantage of visitors who simply don’t know that $60 is an outrage to park around here. Or that we have plenty of other choices. Or that we have a Metro Rail. I argued about this with people on Twitter, and was truly surprised by the number of people defending Croce’s right to charge whatever he wants. Well, sure, I guess. But does that make it right? Or does your humanity, good neighborliness, and sense of fairness demand that visitors not be gouged by a greedy millionaire? Welcome to Buffalo! If the government doesn’t rob you, our business oligarchs will. 

But seriously, if it costs less to eat the ticket you get from parking in a “No Parking” zone than in one of Croce’s lots, the rules of “basic economics” are out the damn window. 

2. Last night the Blue Bash to celebrate the 2014 Undy 5000 and the Colon Cancer Alliance was held at Artisan Kitchen & Baths. While colon cancer is the 2nd deadliest cancer in America, affecting thousands of people every year, there’s such a phobia and stigma attached to it that people are dying needlessly. Early detection is the difference between life and death; survivor and victim. My wife is a cancer survivor and we are raising money for the CCA to help its mission, part of which is to provide free colonoscopies to people who cannot otherwise afford them. Please consider donating anything you can at this link. 

3. Looks like a lot of local school districts – Orchard Park, Ken-Ton, Depew, Cheektowaga, Sweet Home, and Buffalo, to name a few – are undergoing the same gut-wrenching budget crisis this year that Clarence underwent last year, and there’s more on the horizon.  When Clarence’s budget was in trouble last year, the board tried to pass a 9% increase to maintain the status quo. The vote failed, and the curriculum was gutted and electives were eliminated. Some in WNY pointed and laughed. Sprawly, tax-averse Clarence kids got what they deserved, some argued. Well, the hurt is getting spread around while Clarence’s crisis appears to be over. If we can’t adequately fund our schools and instead prioritize things like handouts to businesses and pothole repairs, then our priorities are beyond screwed up.

No Lights, No Roundabouts, No Change

21 Oct

At the corner of Greiner and Shimerville in the town of Clarence there was until recently a stupid 4-way stop. The DOT wanted to improve traffic flow there and proposed a roundabout. The title of this post is the text from a bunch of signs that popped up in the immediate vicinity, which nicely reflects WNY’s attitude about everything, everywhere. (They eventually installed lights). 

On Millersport Highway, between Sheridan Drive and Eggert, there are five lanes of traffic and not a single pedestrian crosswalk. How is this allowed to be? 

View Larger Map

On Maple at Culpepper, a middle-schooler died trying to traverse five lanes of traffic in order to reach a playground. Amherst is going to “study” whether a crosswalk somewhere nearby might be a good idea. The girl’s family is raising money for “Erin’s Crossings” to advocate for a law requiring crosswalks near every playground. Transit Road is a killing field, involving death after death after death after death. With crosswalks a mile apart from each other, it’s routine for people to just cross wherever, and it’s even more dangerous in the wintertime when no one plows the sidewalks and pedestrians are forced into the street. To die. 

Hamburg was able to get the DOT to install roundabouts and make the village more pedestrian-friendly and picturesque. Why can’t the DOT do that everywhere? 

View Larger Map

Finally, here is a map that the New Millenium Group released in 2003, showing that downtown Buffalo is made up mostly of parking. Parking downtown is still a 50s era clusterfuck, and nothing’s been done in 10 years to address it, manage it, or to provide some sort of comprehensive plan and modernization effort. 

Just make sure not to kill any hapless pedestrians trying to cross a road on your way downtown. 

Parking Spots Are For Proles

20 Sep

When Carl Paladino goes shopping at the Eastern Hills Mall, he doesn’t have to park in actual “spots” like the rest of us rubes. Because he is a very wealthy and important person – far wealthier and more important than you or I, dear reader – he has a special license that permits him to park wherever he wants.  Although we must give Mr. Paladino credit for not occupying a spot reserved for the infirm and disabled, understand that he is,  by dint of his awesomeness, allowed to park even closer to the door than the infirm and disabled

The person who posted this picture relates that she objected to Lord Paladino, as she saw him walk towards the mall, and that he replied that she should mind her business. 

This person is not a nice person. 

Deez Newz

6 Jun

1. Chris Collins: businessman, hobbyist politician, ECGOP sugardaddy, scofflaw. 

As a reminder, Collins’ light blue / silverish, appropriately named Buick Enclave with the distinctive “CE-3” license plate (CE for “County Executive” – a post he no longer holds, but a license plate he retains) was seen during the 2011 election season, 

parking in a handicapped spot in Akron, NY

better angles of him parking in that Akron spot

parking illegally outside of Ulrich’s

Farmington is a town in northern Ontario County, near Victor.  It appears that Collins believes inconsiderate or illegal parking is a right he inherited by entail, since he parked like this at an event that recently took place there:

 

  

It doesn’t appear to be an illegal spot, per se, but Collins did park directly in front of the door – the better to duck in and out of the event without being accosted by the 99 percent. 

2. Former Ranzenhofer staffer Michelle McCullough, who was terminated because she dared to support David Bellavia over Chris Collins in NY-27, filed a formal ethics complaint, and its text makes for great reading about how political patronage appointees are routinely expected to perform the dirty, tedious political work their masters demand – regardless of its legality. 

Ranzenhofer Complaint

The ethics complaint led the Erie County Democrats to take a shot at Collins, 

“Chris Collins needs to be honest with the public about his role in the firing of an employee in Republican Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s office who supported his opponent, David Bellavia.  These reports raise serious questions about whether this type of intimidation is how Collins intends to solicit support for his campaign.

“The employee, Michelle McCulloch, filed a complaint with the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics yesterday contending she was fired for circulating petitions for David Bellavia, who is opposing Chris Collins for the Republican nomination for Congress in the new 27th District. Ranzenhofer, who supports Collins, has been silent about why Ms. McCulloch was terminated. 

“The public deserves to know if Collins played a direct role with Ranzenhofer in costing this public servant her job. The time has come for both Collins and Ranzenhofer to come clean and explain why an otherwise good employee was suddenly let go after she circulated petitions for Collins’ opponent.”

3. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will remain in office, as the effort to recall him failed last night.  In fact, Walker’s win was apparently by a wider margin than the one that originally brought him to office.

Never underestimate the ease with which politicians can demonize unionized workers and take away their rights – especially public sector workers. While no one in any society wants to just give public workers a key to the public vault, taking away, e.g., teachers’ right to collectively bargain with the state for their pay and benefits is only the clumsiest and most antagonistic way to treat a group of people who are charged with educating the next generation of Americans.

Never underestimate the power of the right wing. Never underestimate the power of their money and the ease with which they and their benefactors can influence public opinion and elections in contemporary America. The contemporary Republican/conservative movement derives its power from denigrating hard-working people and taking away rights they had earned over a century. It is, at its heart, an assault on the American Dream, and self-identified patriotic people are just eating it up. 

4. Regionalism advocate Kevin Gaughan announced yesterday that he’s running for state Assembly in the newly constructed A-149, comprising much of Buffalo, Lackawanna, and Hamburg. He wrote: 

I believe that no citizen should run for office unless they have an innovative proposal or specific purpose. Based on lessons I’ve learned working to reduce government size and cost, I have several. Each one of them is in service of a simple idea: Western New Yorkers deserve the most effective and least expensive government possible.

And this new civil right – the right to a government that lifts rather than burdens us – I believe is within our grasp. For over a decade, I’ve been engaged in government reform. I founded a number of conferences, in which we learned the crushing costs of our nation-leading concentration of governments and politicians.

Employing those lessons, and with the assistance of thousands of volunteers, we caused public votes to let people decide whether to reduce their local government. As a result, voters adopted downsizing plans in 3 county, 6 town, and 1 village governments, eliminating 26 elected positions and saving local taxpayers $5.2 million per year.

Now, I want to do in Albany what we have done here at home: reduce the state legislature’s size, lower its costs to taxpayers, and with a little luck and much work, perhaps even return a sense of humility to the idea of government service. To accomplish these goals, our campaign will sketch a landscape of ideas, all seeking to end Western New York’s 35-year path of chronic economic decline, exit of youth, loss of companies, destruction of neighborhoods, and demise of hope. Every degree of mind and spirit that I possess will be devoted to restoring our community.

5. Have a great day, western New York! Stay positive!

Not Just Parking Lots Anymore

11 Apr

Washington, DC is a thriving, bustling city filled with people and money. Even after business hours, the streets are filled with cars, the sidewalks are filled with people, and there are street-level businesses doing good business. 

One of the things to remember about historic preservation is that many of these older buildings don’t have underground parking garages, and to make them even remotely economically feasible, you need to provide parking for tenants, guests, and residents. New builds can hide the parking underground – old buildings can’t, and we have nothing in place to require it to happen. So, we maintain a sea of surface parking that we complain about endlessly, but we seldom come up with ideas to actually change that around. 

Our city municipal parking garages are inadequate, antiquated, and ugly. Forget smart parking – in most lots, you can’t even pay without cash. We don’t have a comprehensive civic, urban plan to turn the surface parking into shovel-ready lots while concentrating the daily influx of cars into designated, well-designed, modern parking garages. 

But here’s a homework assignment for Buffalo. DC’s Mount Vernon triangle was, until recently, a blighted shell of a neighborhood made up largely of cheap parking for commuters. Now? It’s re-making itself into a thriving community thanks to its proximity to downtown businesses and attractions. It’s “not just parking lots anymore“. 

So, that’s Buffalo’s homework assignment – to learn a lesson from places like Mt Vernon triangle; to take its blight and turn it into something attractive and exciting. It doesn’t matter if a building is new or old – what matters is what’s inside them. 

The Senecas’ Buffalo Creek Casino Re-Design

27 Mar

Have you seen it?

Aim Low.

 

Aspirational

I hope to move my way up from “surface parking” to “valet parking”, and someday aim to join the “chairman parking” elite.

It’s good to aspire to excellence. The whole plan – is it serious? Is it a massive “f you” to the earnest people with dubious means of support who fought to halt it and its predecessor plan a few years ago?

It’s magnificent, if you agree with Xzibit

Let me know what Harrah’s is trading at today, as that may have some bearing on how aggressively this plan will be fought. 

No Quarter

14 Dec
parkingFAIL

Image by Flickr user Buffalogeek at the AV Photo Daily group

I have no idea how these guys thought they could steal this much money from city meters and get away with it, especially given the huge discrepancy between what the pay & display meters were raking in versus these jerry-rigged old-fashioned meters.

Yet something tells me this is just the tip of a very corrupt iceberg, indeed.

Bagarozzo Complaint & Affidavit//

Charles Complaint & Affidavit//

Back to the Future, Back to the Past

10 Nov

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Drumroll Please —– Downtown Parking!

14 Jan

No one comes downtown anymore, because all the parking spots are taken.

There’s a study out there that apparently rips downtown Buffalo’s parking situation a new orifice. There can be no doubt that parking in downtown is a disjointed cluster of surface lots, disasterously out-of-date ramps replete with reserved spots, and on-street parking. Literally the only smart thing that the city has done lately with parking has been the installation of pay & display meters, which enable you to use a debit or credit card instead of coins, take dimes and nickels, and reduce the collection and maintenance duties for City Hall.

Municipal lots are hard to find, oftentimes full come 9:00, and the surface lots are expensive and sometimes inconvenient, requiring tandem parking and similar.

Quite literally, there is neither rhyme nor reason to any of it. There is no plan, no coordination, no effort to make it simple and user-friendly.

I’ve posted about this before, so as with many things I’m repeating myself, but there is another way to do this stuff. Here’s an excerpt from 2007:

As for the parking issue – it’s no longer a question of capacity (there’s plenty), it’s a question of planning (there isn’t any), or even technology (we’re years behind). Smart parking, coupled with a comprehensive parking plan that would enable the city to maintain a well-designed, properly spread out network of municipal garages that are not ugly, but are convenient would be a great start. Parking downtown is generally ugly and haphazard, but as long as we have what amounts to a bus-only transit grid in this region, parking does need to be addressed as a genuine issue.

Let me invite you to visit the lovely city of Bern, Switzerland. The Swiss capital has a population of 130,000, and 644,000 in its metropolitan area. Driving a motor vehicle is prohibited in much of its downtown core, so parking spots are important, and Bern has implemented a user-friendly system.

If you go to the Bern tourism info site, you can scroll down – pausing to snicker at the “Wankdorf” department center’s name – to the link to Bern’s parking garage system.

When you reach that website, you are shown a map of the city center. (Shown at left, click to enlarge) More specifically, it’s a Google map mashup/overlay, showing the location of each parking ramp (a blue box with the letter P and, if covered, a little upside-down V over it). Next to each parking ramp is a number. Some may be red, some may be green – the number represents the exact number of available parking spots in that ramp. If spots are non-existent or low, the number is represented in red. If plentiful, in green. Mouse over each garage, and it tells you its name. Click on it, and you’re linked to detailed information about the garage location, rates, and whether Euros are accepted for payment in addition to Swiss Francs.

The whole operation is simple, user-friendly, and updated in real time.

And you don’t have to go that far afield to find a well-organized parking entity. In White Plains, several municipally-owned lots require you to remember the number of the spot in which you parked, and you then pay a single meter for as much time as you need. The number of available spots is thereby updated in real time and accurate. In some ramps, red and green lights show you where there are free spots from far away.

The study of Buffalo’s non-system system recommends:

Hire a parking czar at a salary of up to $140,000 a year, then transfer duties currently performed by several offices to one consolidated department.

The report also urges the city to scour the nation for a parking expert who will help engineer a top-to-bottom overhaul.

“The fragmentation of oversight, reliance on the private sector and abrogation of traditional responsibilities has created an overly competitive, shortsighted and dysfunctional parking system,” said Desman Associates, a nationally recognized consulting firm that was hired by the city to perform the study.

Harsh words by any yardstick.

“The truth hurts,” replied Ellicott Common Council Member Brian C. Davis, who represents much of downtown and is a frequent critic of Buffalo’s parking policies.

“The study speaks volumes about the problems we’ve been talking about for at least six years,” Davis continued. “We definitely need to overhaul our parking system.”

Whether we need a $140,000 per year position is questionable, but the notion that there ought to be a singular, unified plan is dead-on. It should also be lurched out of the mid-1970s and brought squarely into the modern era.

Carl Paladino, who runs the private, non-profit Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps disagreed strenuously with the study’s conclusions. Interesting to note is that the city and BCAR jointly commissioned a similar study in 2006. This year, the city alone commissioned the study.

At a bare minimum, it’d be swell if the city could consolidate multiple surface lots into well-designed and well-planned and positioned parking garages, thus freeing up prime real estate for actual development upwards.

Is that something that would be nice or must be done?

Pitts Hotel

7 Dec

The highest and best use of Buffalo’s waterfront isn’t just CanalSide. It’s also the shittiest hotel ever located in a “neighborhood” with the shittiest architecture ever. So, it would follow that the shittiest food ever should be in the outparcels, although they would interfere with the precious, scarce parking there.

Fools.