Category Archives: smart growth

Parking Policies for a Successful Downtown

What’s the first thing a city should do if it has a parking shortage?

At a PS21 event on April 2, Michael Manville said the city should “play with the prices” to get people to change when and where they park.

“It’s probably the first ten things you try,” he told an audience of about 100 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “If you’re still not getting the return you want, you would think about adding supply.”

The question was one of many parking policy questions Manville, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University,  addressed during a presentation “Parking and Downtown Vitality” at 3S Artspace. Manville studies studies  the relationships between transportation and land use, and local public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking.

The presentation was funded in part by the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Donor Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

Over the course of an hour, Manville built the case that properly priced parking is crucial to the success of downtowns.

He began by reminding the audience of the purpose of parking — simply put, to assure drivers they will find a parking spot. That’s why cities aim for 85 percent parking occupancy, rather than 100 percent. With examples and evidence ranging from Tulsa to California to Portsmouth, Manville explored the relationship between parking and downtown economies and how cities try to strike a balance between parking that is easy to find, cheap, and a reliable source of revenue. (Hint: you can’t have all three).

WATCH THE VIDEO

The event was the first in a PS21 series this spring that will look at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.

The Coruway Film Institute, a series sponsor, recorded the presentation April 2 and Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.

(SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 28. Rick Chellman, who consults nationally and internationally about street design, and lives in downtown Portsmouth, will discuss two-way streets, on-street parking and the pedestrian experience in Portsmouth. )

City Expands Parking Shuttle Service

Portsmouth’s downtown parking shuttle , which has operated Friday thru Sunday since May, has been enough of success so that the city is expanding its  hours of operation.

Beginning Aug. 7, the shuttle will operate on Thursdays, from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. It will also starting operation earlier on Fridays, at noon on Friday instead of 4 p.m. The shuttle picks up passengers every 10 minutes at the Connect Community Church off Market Street near Exit 7 on I-95 and drops them off the the parking garage on Hanover Street.

According to a press release, during the 13 weeks of operation, the shuttle’s total daily ridership has increased from an average of 45 riders per day to just over 190 riders per day. The city attributes the increase to growing awareness of the shuttle service as well as increased demand with the arrival of the peak summer tourism season.

The shuttle will operate until Sunday, Aug. 31. For complete information, see the shuttle website at www.portsmouthparkingshuttle.com.

A Website for Car-Free Portsmouth

Like many younger people, Sean Moundas doesn’t have a car. He walks, bikes and takes public transportation, including to his job in Durham. It’s possible to get around the Seacoast that way, but not easy.

So, to publicize and promote transportation options for car-less (or car-free) people like himself,  Sean has started a website: Car-Free Portsmouth. The site features transportation alternatives, news and resources.

If that interests you, Sean (who led the Portsmouth library’s own discussion of Walkable City) is looking for people who to contribute or help out with the site. Email him at seanmoundas@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Shuttle Parking Used to Max on Market Square Day

The CCC parking was full to overflowing on Market Square Day.
The CCC parking was full to overflowing on Market Square Day.

The jury may be out on the overall effectiveness of Portsmouth’s free parking shuttle, but one thing’s for sure: It can be successful for special events like Market Square Day.

On Saturday, June 14 the CCC parking lot on Market Street was full,  and additional cars were parked along access roads. The shuttle stops at the lot every 10 minutes, but some people were not waiting, deciding instead to walk the half mile to downtown.

‘Pop-Up’ Bus System Debuts in Boston

A hi-tech bus company seeking to capitalize on the demand for new and better options in transit has debuted in Boston.

Bridj will use ‘big data’ to dynamically determine routes for its chartered, upscale buses, which will cost significantly more than city buses fares or the subway, but will take riders directly where they want to go.

“Users in Brookline can take a Bridj that goes to Downtown, Kendall, Harvard, or Back Bay. On average, this saves our users about an hour each day compared with public transit,” according to the company’s website.

More on NYTimes.com

 

 

What Is Smart Growth?

One reason PS21 included “smart growth” in its name was because the term was being so loosely used that it had started to mean “growth I think is smart.”

“Smart Growth,” with capital letters, is a set of policies and approaches to development arose over the past five or six decades as a response to the negative social and environmental effects of sprawl and automobile dependency.

Parris Glendening, the former governor of Maryland, is generally credited with being the first to use the term, in 1996.

The Smart Growth Manual (2010) says,  smart growth is “the opposite of automobile-based suburban development.” The book then takes 240 pages to summarize and illustrate dozens of smart growth policies.

Meanwhile, the EPA suggests there are ten principles to Smart Growth.

For additional takes on Smart Growth, see: Smart Growth America, NOAA’s Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth or “Smart Growth”  according to Wikipedia.

What aspects of Smart Growth apply to Portsmouth? To Portsmouth downtown? How you define “smart growth.”

 

 

Notes on ‘The Human Scale’ discussion 5/13

Notes by Jerry Zelin

Approx. 75 people attended, and there was a moderated discussion after a showing of the movie ‘The Human Scale’ at the Portsmouth Public Library.

Tom Morgan (PS21): What lessons from movie are applicable to Portsmouth?

Steve McHenry and Margaret Robidoux of McHenry Architecture make a brief presentation and lead the discussion.

Steve McHenry: The movie focused planning for big cities. In China, the pace of growth is so quick that creates sense of urgency regarding need to plan. Ditto in Portsmouth. Portsmouth has been growing over the past 20 years, but growth has exploded recently.

Not all the development has been top down. Early on, it was lots of people investing in their own homes, historic preservation. Some elements require critical mass to be successful, e.g., Portland’s Public Market project lacked critical mass of housing in city to succeed.

Portsmouth’s growth of as a center for dining and restaurants arose from individuals willing to invest and the city then reaching a critical mass as a destination.

Margaret Robidoux:  We need to consider buildings, but must also consider the streetscape and what moves through it — cars, walkers, bikes, buses. Example, recent changes in New York City, such as in Times Square and on Broadway, involved in consideration of pedestrians as well as cars.

Portsmouth’s fixation on “where will I park” should change to “how and where will I walk?” Ditto re: bikes.

Audience member: But must park car before walking. Why not establish a rent-a-bike program? Drive car to satellite parking, then rent a bike to ride to downtown.   It’s an alternative to carrying bike on the car.

Continue reading Notes on ‘The Human Scale’ discussion 5/13

CommuteSmart Seacoast Launches

The project to get Seacoast commuters to carpool, bike or walk, and use transit has launched with a well-attended press event and a slick website (www.commutesmartseacoast.org).

CommuteSmart Seacoast is a Transportation Management Association. Membership is free to Seacoast employers, and services include:

  • Online carpool or vanpool matching service for employees, including tracking of commuter trips and internal employer commuter contests
  • On-site promotional events and materials about carpooling/vanpooling, bicycling/walking, transit, and telecommuting
  • Surveying and analyzing employee transportation patterns and needs
  • commuteSMARTclubregistered commuters are eligible for the Emergency Ride Home program (up to 6 free rides home if an emergency occurs during work or carpool driver has emergency) and drawings for prizes.
  • Quarterly e-newsletter and email blasts
  • Regional commuter events and contests (e.g. “Bike to Work Week”, “Try Transit Week”, “Dump the Pump Day”)
  • Workshops (e.g. bike safety, bike maintenance)
  • Advocating on regional transportation issues
  • Roundtables on commuting options and topics of common concern to members

Some of the initial 20+ participating employers include Lonza, the City of Portsmouth, Redhook Brewery, the Courtyard by Marriott-Portsmouth, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Realtors Discover Walkable Places Are Preferred

Most Americans want to live an single-family detached house, but a 2013 Community Preference Survey undertaken by the National Association of Realtors also found a strong and growing preference for walkable places.

“Most Americans now want to live in a walkable neighborhood where they can walk to shops and restaurants and parks, and many are willing to give up a large yard to do so. There is also a strong interest in having access to public transportation,” the NAR’s Joseph Molinaro writes.

Full article

 

What great cities need

“Good cities need infrastructure, efficiency, and economic activity, and smart cities give equally strong attention to arts and culture, social compassion, and sustainability. But great cities need more than that. They need beauty.

“They need to inspire creativity, energy and affection for the place we live in, through that beauty. They need buildings, streets and places that move us, that inspire us to be more creative and civil. They need beauty that makes us fall in love with where we live. As is true with anything we love, we’ll be unable to watch our city being treated badly.

“Does beauty mean things have to be more expensive? Not necessarily, if we’re clever (besides, it’s amazing how expensive ugly can be). Does beauty pay dividends for a smart city? Of course. The economic spinoffs in private sector re-investment and the resulting municipal tax generation are proven, and in fact beauty has a better track-record of return on investment than ugly does.

“It’s good for business, for quality of life, and for attraction of creative industries and people. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Absolutely, but so what? Even the discussion of what is beautiful … is worthwhile. People may not agree, and that’s the beauty of it. But we’ll be having a great conversation.”

— Brent Toderian, Toderian UrbanWORKS