Big Yellow Taxi. Anyone?
You know that famous lyric, right?
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Hey now, now
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Hey hey hey
To put up a parking lot
Good. Glad that’s settled.
So where do you stand on paving paradise to put up a parking lot?
Well for starters, define “paradise.” I think we all have a different definition.
I mean, for myself, paradise is sitting at this very desk in my office, drinking my morning coffee, checking eBay for new hockey card listings, and not dealing with a crying newborn and a jealous 3-year-old. That’s my paradise, sad as it is.
The cliché picture of “paradise” is the sun setting on an ocean, with sand in front, from the perspective of a relaxed, rested individual laying on a beach chair, drinking a margarita.
Cliché? Boring? Or your idea of paradise?
What about a beautiful, lush, dark green patch of grass? Aaaaah, beautiful! So…….functional?
Excuse the tangent, but I must…
For Christmas, my wife bought me this beautiful winter jacket which was somewhere between “dress” and “casual.” Owning only a knee-length winter coat that goes over my suits, and a thick Reebok hooded jacket that I wear on weekends, I didn’t really have an in between option. This new coat was fantastic! The only problem: it had no inside pocket.
I didn’t understand. Where was I supposed to put my wallet?
I asked one of the guys in my office, who you might say is a fashionista, and he said, “That’s the style these days. It’s a slim coat, you don’t want a noticeable lump on your chest when you throw your fat wallet inside.”
This made zero sense to me, and I was unwilling to accept this as an answer.
The basis of my refusal? Why would you want something that looks good, but isn’t functional?
Why do I want to wear a nice-looking jacket if it doesn’t meet my basic needs?
In my opinion, the needs of the jacket are, in order, as follows:
2) Protection from the elements
3) Place for my wallet and keys
I suppose after those three criteria are met, I might consider how it looks. I know that I’m “different” and every time that I slag people for viewing photos of their friends lunches on Instagram, I’m simply showing what a curmudgeon I am, but I can’t help it. I’m rational and logical.
A jacket without a pocket is not.
So what then is the purpose of your front lawn?
We spend hours tending to our front lawns, pulling weeds, fertilizing, raking leaves, mowing the grass, and for what? For enjoyment? Yes, I suppose. I spent dozens of hours working on my front lawn last year, and I did take some pleasure in watching it go from brown to green.
But I have a driveway to the left of my lawn.
So for those people who can only choose one, maybe they’d pick the driveway instead?
The comments on Monday’s blog were very interesting.
FIrst, we debated the value in street parking versus owned parking, but later this turned into a conversation about the necessity of both; specifically what the city should do, and in who’s interests their decisions would serve.
The readers began discussing how much the street permits cost, then how the city goes about allocating the permits if there’s truly a waiting list.
Are street permits and front parking pad licenses both revenue-generating tools? Should they be?
I thoroughly read all the comments from Monday, and I appreciate everybody who contributed.
There are two comments that I want to pick up on:
In reading all the comments, I suppose there are a few discussion points and/or questions.
1) What criteria should be used for evaluating whether or not a house should or should not have a parking pad.
2) If there is an existing pad, and it’s not licensed, what should happen with it?
3) What are the benefits and drawbacks to having parking pads?
4) Who benefits, and who loses, when parking pads are created?
5) What is the end goal for a neighbourhood, vis-a-vis the parking therein?
I don’t want to belabour every point individually, but rather I bring these discussion points or questions up as they are meant to guide the discussion.
A house with a legal front parking pad is worth more than one without. Guaranteed.
How much? That’s open for debate. But a 3-bed, 2-bath semi with no parking, selling for $900,000 might sell for $975,000 if it has a legal front parking pad.
So why do some houses have parking pads, and others don’t?
Well, anecdotally, many would agree that the city won’t be allowing the creation of new parking pads in many areas, and we always point to the Beaches as an area where applying to pave over your front lawn and create a parking pad is absolutely futile.
It’s safe to say that, as houses and parking spaces go right now, those that have parking are merely “lucky” and a by-product of previous owners, previous by-laws, and previous iterations of city council.
Those that have parking, have parking. Plain and simple. The curb has been cut, and that means there is one less parking space available for street parking.
Therein lies the rub.
For an owner of a home without a front pad, to ask the city to allow for a legal pad, with a curb-cut, means that the city will remove one space from the street, and thus for the public.
Ergo, to give a home-owner a space is to remove a space from the public domain.
Are we currently in a political climate that allows such a move?
Would the public allow for an individual home-owner to benefit at the expense of the public?
Then there’s the question of revenue-generating. If a street permit brought in more than a licensed front parking pad would, then does it make more sense for the to reject an application for a private front parking pad? Are we talking a few bucks here? Or if we multiply by thousands of houses, is this money significant?
And what of the illegal front parking pads?
Well, for this, I finally, finally get to use an article which I’ve had in my “queue” for almost two years now.
I found this article rather interesting because it came on the heels of years of debate about a moratorium on new front-yard parking permits. It’s my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the City of Toronto hasn’t “banned” new front-pad parking, but rather they’re just not allowing them.
But this article was more to do with the 8,000 illegal and unlicensed front parking pads, and what to do with them.
Should they be left alone?
Should they be made legal, and thus create more revenue for the city?
Then the question of “fairness” arose.
Said Councilor Mary Margaret McMahon from Beaches-East York: “For me, it’s an equity issue. It’s not fair that we have 8,000 parking pads in the city of Toronto that people don’t have to pay for right now while others do.”
I get that.
And if push came to shove, I would support the City’s decision to start collecting licensing fees from these 8,000 home owners.
But what if the conversation wasn’t about the existing unlicensed pads, and whether or not to collect a fee? What if the conversation was about the pads themselves, and the idea of “functionality,” as per my coat-without-a-pocket example?
I’m fascinated with the comments provided by two city councilors, who lean to two very different directions on the left-right scale.
More interesting, however, is the two separate reactions from two different city councilors with respect to
“The reality is that it’s more valuable to us as an open space, as green space, than it is as a parking spot. They need to be restored to the function they did before they were paved over.”
“You have to recognize that people have to live their lives — they’ve got cars. They’ve had this pad in place for years. Life has to go on. Maybe there’s a way to correct this situation, to start collecting money, to make it a fairer system.”
Okay, so you know which comment I don’t like, right?
I’m sorry, Mr. Layton, but explain the “value” in the green space on somebody’s lawn?
And who says it’s green anyways? Do you know how hard it is to keep a lawn green? I do!
And Mr. Layton refers to a “function” before these spaces were paved over. What function does a lawn serve? Can we agree that there’s no real “function,” per se? And what is meant by “before?” When? How long ago? What if there was never a lawn there? What if it was brick?
As for Mr. Holyday’s comments, I’ll put my contrarian hat on and say that if a home-owner purchased a home with an illegal front parking pad, with the expectation that they would be permitted to park here, for free, in perpetuity, then that’s a huge mistake.
I agree that starting to collect money would make this more fair, but I would also add that if there’s already a curb-cut in place on the street, then cars aren’t parking on the street in that place. Legal, or illegal, if a parking pad exists, via a curb-cut, then there’s no street parking. In order to add a street space, the city would need to re-pour the concrete to add a curb. You can only imagine how much time and money this would take.
I don’t agree with Mr. Layton. I’ll go on record labelling him a “greenie” and call his comment stupid. I’m not sure whether he actually means what he says, ie. the “value” and “functionality,” or whether it’s a sound-byte, but bottom line, he said it.
Now let me throw in one last curveball.
What about green parking?
What about the owners of electric-powered cars who are doing their part for the environment, who want parking pads so they can charge these cars?
Oh, wow. Now we’re in a pickle.
With the federal government absolutely obsessed with the environment, how does that play off the Toronto city council’s decision to desire to not link parking pad applications to electric vehicle charging?
The Beaches-East York city councilor, Brad Bradford, brought forth such a motion last fall.
He wrote an opinion piece in the local Beach Metro Community News explaining his logic:
Do you think this motion makes sense?
Does it have legs?
It would seem………..not.
That article is from only one month ago, when city council met and turned down the motion by Brad Bradford.
While this motion was turned down, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this, and for the very reason I noted above: that the federal government is all about the environment! It’s a real juxtaposition, isn’t it? How in the world can we Canadians be expected to turn to clean energy if we can’t charge our cars in our own driveways?
And how would Mike Layton feel about this? Would the “function” and “value” of a patch of grass in front of one’s house trump the benefit of an electric car over a gas-powered vehicle?
Oh, I’d love a straight answer on this one.
But politicians and straight answers are like, well, um, front lawns and “value”? Er, jackets with no pockets and “function”?
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