I went to City Hall today seeking answers to my earlier question about the parking situation on Baga Toiruu. I couldn’t quite understand the logic behind taking away parking spaces on the road and figured there had to be a reasonable answer.
It seems that taking away spaces was actually a conscious decision made by the city, after recommendations by the Traffic Police. The Traffic Police believe that having less parking spaces will actually reduce traffic problems. Without places to park traffic will flow faster, they say.
I then asked, what happens if a car has to stop to go to a local business? There are tons of small shops and cafes on Little Ring Road and many would lose business if they don’t have parking. The answer was somewhat convoluted but essentially it breaks down like this:
The road engineer says that if businesses have fewer customers because they have less parking then they will have to figure out a way to make their own parking.
I said, how are they going to do that?
He said businesses should knock down the buildings and make new ones that have underground parking.
I then said, well, most of the businesses on Baga Toiruu are small mom and pop shops and cafes, they are not going to be able to knock down their buildings and build new ones with underground parking.
To this he says that those little shops and cafes should never have been built in the first place. He says they are ugly, unsafe and not designed for commercial space (OK, on this he does have a point).
He added that if the businesses get killed off because of this new road design, then the property prices will come down and developers will be able to go in, buy a whole building, knock it down and put up a new one.
He tells me -- those buildings have exceeded their lifespan, they should be torn down and replaced with newer, more efficient buildings.
He concludes by adding that if there are fewer parking spaces, people will use their cars less and will just walk around town. Thereby reducing traffic.
I must admit that I am perplexed by all of this, and somewhat astonished to hear that the city is actually trying to kill off local businesses as a way to get rid of the old Russian buildings.
Now, in conclusion, I ask if they are taking away the parking spaces, where does the city expect people to park in the near term. The answer, he says, it so build huge, multi-story parking garages around the city.
Whoa, I thought he wanted to limit the parking spaces? But now he says he wants to build big parking structures. I consider suggesting to scrap the idea of parking structures and just have street parking, but in the end, I give up.
So let us recap the plans for downtown UB:
*Less street parking
*More parking structures in courtyards
*Dead commercial space
*The eventual destruction of the most unique Russian-era building in the city.
If you can make sense of this, feel free to comment.