Cities

$30,000 + for a parking space - Eye popping rule of thumb

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Over the past week, I’ve had numerous conversations where this “rule-of-thumb” kept popping up:

1 newly constructed parking space = $30,000 or more

While on most days I work from a home office, I am a regular user of the park-and-ride near my house as I venture into downtown Seattle for the occasional meeting. More than once have I lamented the lack of parking as I circled the lot like a vulture just so I could ride a bus. At a basic level, the concept of “park-and-ride” seems totally logical — the best of both suburbia and city life. With each circle of the overflowing lot and each spiral up the parking garage, I feel pangs of annoyance at the lack of a home for my single-occupant vehicle.

But,  as someone that works on energy infrastructure and financial models, this number, $30,000 / parking spot is pretty staggering.  As Alan Durning from the Sightline Institute puts it:

“Our car storage spaces are worth more than our cars.”

I’m left with more questions:

  • Is this really the best use of our public funds?
  • This is just parking, what about the roads?

Others have written eloquently on this topic before me (list of links below.)

Population Trends of the top 101 cities in the US

After reading the Seattle Times article,  “U.S. Census: Seattle now fourth for growth among 50 biggest U.S. cities” by: Gene Balk, I was curious to understand the various trends in other major US cities.  I pulled down the census data cited in Balk’s article and created the following data “vignette” to better understand the numbers.  A few things jumped out at me:

A few cities in the Midwest Rust Belt are continuing a longer-term trend of slow to negative growth.

Detroit continues to “lead” the pack with an annual “growth” rate of -1%.  Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and St. Louis are all clearly shrinking with rates between -0.5% and -0.2%

Detroit continues to “lead” the pack with an annual “growth” rate of -1%.

Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and St. Louis are all clearly shrinking with rates between -0.5% and -0.2%

  • Detroit continues to “lead” the pack with an annual “growth” rate of -1%.
  • Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and St. Louis are all clearly shrinking with rates between -0.5% and -0.2%
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  • Cincinnati seems to have bucked this trend with a modest 0.1% growth rate.
  • Chicago & Milwaukee did shrink from 2014-2015, but still grew slightly this decade.

Oil drilling gateways Baton Rouge, LA & Anchorage, AK have bumpy growth patterns.

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  • New Orleans seems to have escaped the impacts of a volatile oil market as it picks up the 8th fastest growing city on the list. Keep in mind, however that the Big Easy lost over a 250,000 people after hurricane Katrina, and is still much smaller than its highs in the 20th century.

The global trend of urbanization is alive and well in these numbers.

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  •  Only 7 of the 101 cities have been shrinking this decade. More interesting is that 16 of the 101 cities added more population than all of the shrinking cities combined (-58,000.)  This includes the Rust Belt city of Columbus, Ohio which added over 59,000 people.

If you see other interesting trends, please comment and I can update this article accordingly.