Thursday, January 28, 2016

Town of Boone Googles 'Parking'

The exchange of email copied below came on the heels of last week's Boone Town Council meeting inwhich another new development with inadequate parking for the requiredcommercial space was approved across from the Appalachian State University Convocation Center.

Leading up to the Council's 4-1 vote to approve that development, Planning Director Bill Bailey cited "studies" that claimed that modern university students were trending away from car ownership and/or driver's licenses. In what I posted toWataugaWatch about that meeting, I questioned the source of that information and doubted its bearing on the situation in Boone.


To: Bill Bailey, Director, Boone Planning and Inspections Dept.
John Ward, Boone Town Manager

From: Pam Williamson

1/21/2016 6:49 PM

Hi, Bill and John.

I have been watching your live feed of tonight's [Boone Town Council] meeting. Bill says he has some research and has had some discussions with other college towns that demonstrate that 30% of students no longer have cars that need to be considered in development parking needs. 

Could you please send me copies of notes, links to the research, and/or any other materials associated with that contention?

Thanks so much,

-- Pam Williamson


To: Pam Williamson

From: Bill Bailey

1/26/2016 9:29 AM

Ms. Williamson, below are some articles (of the dozens I found) that support the statements I made during the Council deliberations.  As for conversations I had with universities, they were just that -- conversations. I did not take notes so there are none to forward to you in response to this request. As you will see from these articles, I took a very conservative approach when I stated the 30% number.

Below are some of the articles I found to support (or refute) what colleges were telling me about parking:

And this last article which I find interesting in that it speaks to the college age persons and we are talking about student housing...

For more articles, you may want to try Google or Yahoo search engines.


To: Pam Williamson, Bill Bailey

From: John Ward, Boone Town Manager

1/26/2016 10:08 a.m.

Bill and Pam,

I thought you might also find these articles interesting. They both caught my attention during the last two days after parking was both discussed at the BOA and the Town Council Meeting.


John A. Ward III


To: Bill Bailey, John Ward

From: Pam Williamson

1/27/2016 12:57 a.m.

John and Bill, thank you both very much for your Google links.

I have read what you sent and done more research on my own. Turns out there is much debate about your thesis that Millennials are buying fewer cars and don't have drivers' licenses. Most of the links you provided simply rehash a single study which has subsequently been challenged by yet another study and then that study challenged by another study and so on.

The primary article you reference suggests that millennials are buying fewer new cars. Turns out instead they are buying used cars because they are broke. Another article challenging one of the challenges to the primary report you referenced says millennials actually have fewer cars in their own names, again because they are broke. Instead, their parents are buying the cars for Millennials, keeping the titles in their names, but the Millennials are driving them.

As one of the articles warns, "don’t be making claims that can be disproved with a pocket calculator.” Speaking of calculators, even if we assume you are right (which I don't) and 30% of students at ASU won't or don't have cars, what do you intend to do about the 14,000 who your "calculations" clearly show will have to park somewhere? I assume you either have a plan for that the rest of us just don't know about yet, or you have decided to ignore that figure because a Google search tells you Seattle can handle it.

As for driver's licenses, I have some data to offer you that is far more applicable than the disputed national data you apparently are using to try to "imagine" what the parking needs might be for any given project in Boone. Last Summer, we made over 2,000 phone calls to ASU students to determine whether they had NC drivers' licenses that could be counted as valid IDs at the polls. Of the 2,246 we called, six did not have NC Drivers' licenses, and four of those six had a driver's license from another state. I would respectfully submit that this statistical fact beats any of your Google searches as to what pertains to Boone. I'd like to point out that is a valid and actual statistical sample pertinent specifically to Boone that shows just .09% of ASU students don't have a driver's license.

While I realize the need for and certainly support more walking/biking accessibility, it's disheartening to know that Boone's Planning and Inspections Department hangs on abstract national studies from metropolitan cities to justify the parking inadequacy of recent project proposals in our small mountain town.

Maybe that's why we are in such a mess. The traffic is worse than ever, and the town looks worse than it has since I moved here 33 years ago. Yet your Department, your attorney, and Council have the ability, but obviously not the will or desire, to get your hats on straight and do something about it before you completely ruin the place for good.

For a start, I encourage you to come up with some reasonable and sane method of determining what parking needs are adequate for specific developments in Boone before it's too late. While Google searches of national trends is certainly enlightening for overall planning purposes, your reliance on them to discern the parking adequacy for a proposed development in Boone is frankly pretty embarrassing.

 -- Pam Williamson


To: Pam Williamson

From: John Ward

1/27/2016 10:04 a.m.


Thanks for the info. In the next few weeks we have a retreat to get guidance for the future from the current Town Council. Parking is on the agenda. Currently, Bill and his staff and the Board of Adjustment are implementing what is in current code. If the expectation changes then Bill will be charged with making those changes for Town Council to approve and then implementing the changes.


John A. Ward III
Town Manager
Town of Boone


Anonymous said...

It's great that you can get such a quick response to your inquiries. Others who have requested info from the town have seen their requests delayed for a year or so!

gercohenJoMC712 said...

Actually, almost every study shows that millenials (and the college student subset of that) are less likely than those of similarly situated folks in past years to own a car, drive, or even have a drivers license. (one of the problems of voter ID, but that's a different issue) In addition, the cost of building parking is one of the things that pushes up rent and cost of housing. I almost always agree with every one of your posts, but I'm totally in opposition to your #carsfirst thread here and of previous days which seems obsessed with maximizing the opportunity to have and drive a car. Let those who don't have a car to choose to rent from places that don't have much parking and save money

Anonymous said...

Hi, Gerry! Waving to you you folks down there in Raleigh and hope you're doing well. What you say is true: studies show millennials are less likely to own a car (God bless them). It is also true that building parking ain't cheap. But those of us living in Boone have a different situation from the one you experience in Raleigh. One is mountains. Another is that we are a small town in geography. We are about six square miles total (and as you know we have no real hopes of expanding our jurisdiction thanks to the state legislature). The university has a long-range plan called "20 by 20," meaning they want to increase enrollment here to 20,000 students by the year 2020. Even if 30% of those students don't have cars (as your studies suggest), we have to find parking space for the other 14,000 cars the students will inevitably bring with them as they travel here from Raleigh to study. You suggest they can rent from places that have ample parking. Where would those places be? Downtown? In the mall parking lot? Maybe you can help us find a place? I am certainly not opposed to more sidewalks and bike lanes. I don't know anyone who is either. In fact, I have pushed back hard over the years when previous councils considered cutting the requirement that new developments build those sidewalks because they, like parking, are too expensive. But I also live here, and know the reality. Which is that in the newest construction happening here, we have huge mega complexes without enough parking. And we are building retail with absolutely no available parking--which is precisely why they stand empty. I don't see how even flatlanders can submit that makes any sense whatsoever.

Pam Williamson said...

Sorry. There was an auto click for Anonymous. The above post was written by me.

gercohenJoMC712 said...

Hey Pam, you ask "we have to find parking space for the other 14,000 cars the students will inevitably bring with them as they travel here from Raleigh to study. You suggest they can rent from places that have ample parking. Where would those places be?"

actually, I didn't suggest that. I suggested that people WITHOUT cars should be able to rent from places without a parking space so they didn't have to pay for something they didn't need.

Pam Williamson said...

Well, I don't think there's anyone who disagrees with you on that Gerry!

Dem12 said...

We also have many people who visit this town from off the mountain, other states, and other countries. They come here to ski in the winter and to enjoy the parkway in the summer, or to ASU football games in the fall. The vast majority of those people get here in CARS, since we really don't have much public transportation. I'm sure that retail businesses and restaurants love for those visitors to patronize their businesses. If there is no parking, then there will be no customers! Suppose there's a cute little shop in the newest proposed mixed use building near the convocation center. A car full of visitors drives by, and one of them suggests that they stop in that "cute little store." They drive around back and find every parking place filled, and no public lot nearby. What would they do? Keep on driving until they find a business that DOES have parking! Repeat that scenario over and over and over, and then the businesses will be begging for parking! It's nice to think about having fewer cars in the abstract, but I just don't see it happening!