Recently, Moscow's Planning and Zoning Commission took public comment on mis-parking by residents of Identity on Main.

Garrett Hardin popularized the idea "tragedy of the commons," that free access and unrestricted demand for a finite resource leads to over-exploitation.

Donald Shoup uses the idea of a parking commons to critique how parking is planned in the "High Cost of Free Parking."

From time to time this issue surfaces locally, expressed as "there is no parking downtown."

I think the idea of available free parking permeates our small town thinking.

Big cities charge for parking and tow interlopers.

In June 2016 Pullman was annexing 100 acres for development and Moscow was approving the Identity project. I wrote to the DNews a tale of two cities, "The suburban sprawl model with its high carbon footprint was a uniquely American Post-War experiment, fueled by abundant and cheap fossil fuels. It can't be maintained."

Parking is the enemy of a walking city. Parking spaces out destinations.

Parking encourages driving.

To respond to climate emergency, we need to transition from sprawl to compact, from driving to walking, especially in the core of Moscow. That will be unfriendly to unlimited parking.

To avoid a tragedy, the commons must be regulated. Moscow needs a parking district, much like UI has. The district should extend east from the university as far as Adams Street.

Presently there are civic buildings, the 1912 Center among them, that can't expand or change because the parking code requires them to provide more parking.

One option is to demolish houses for parking lots. Another is to manage parking better, rather than continuing our laissez-faire approach.

Density and walkability reduce car use; an essential strategy for climate mitigation. New parking and transit strategies need to be in the city's next Climate Action Plan.

Nils Peterson


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