Sprawl

Cue Joni Mitchell

By Jason Leach
Published June 15, 2007

The city's planning and economic development department, building services division, is recommending that the city approve an application to demolish a single family home [PDF] on Main West to create a parking lot:

The owner of this property is proposing to demolish the existing single family dwelling and has indicated that the lot, upon the demolition, will be used as a parking area for the lands located on the adjacent property known as 327 Main Street West.

Hooray! Lower density and more parking, plus another sidewalk crossing for all the crazy speedsters on Main Street that my family and I will have to dodge while walking down the sidewalk.

If the city is going to continue to allow this sort of stuff in urban, downtown neighbourhoods, why not just get rid of the sidewalks altogether so we skuzzbag pedestrians don't have to worry about getting killed all the time?

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2007 at 10:46:42

That's funny how he reccomends it even though he checked no to all those questions at the bottom.

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By Kieran C. Dickson (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2007 at 14:23:41

Further to Jon's comment, it was at least refreshing to see these frank "no" answers instead of some bizarre justification for affirmatives; I remember scratching my head at the suggestion that a Maple Leaf pork plant in Glanbrook would attact high performance public servants to Hamilton!

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By davidcohen (registered) | Posted June 15, 2007 at 17:58:55

I agree. It's hard to understand the logic in the report. Let me offer a possible explanation: in the planning dept's thinking, they are just being fair to the applicant.

The house to be demolished is a small worker's cottage, now in poor condition. The applicant has evidently made a calculation that the property is more valuable as a parking lot than as a rental property.

He's right. Who wants to live on Main St. West? Not many of us. Certainly not many who'd be willing to pay a decent rent.

The reason for this is, of course, Main St. W., itself. It is a street -- like virtually all of Main St.-- devoted to moving cars and trucks -- and NOTHING ELSE! This is due to its one-way, traffic-sewer character. Few people walk on this stretch of Main St. W; certainly no parent wants their child to play there; few businesses locate there (even though the zoning allows it). The applicant has likely concluded that nothing is going to change on Main St. He/she is probably right. 327 Main St. W. is more valuable to him/her as a parking lot. NOTHING will change on Main St. (and for that matter all other one-way streets in Hamilton) until something is done to change the street. On Main, the quickest and cheapest way to change the street would be to make traffic two way (all day and night), allow parking on both sides of the street, providing a buffer for pedestrians and a convenience for motorists. (This is the architect Bill Curran's idea.) That would give the street two lanes of traffic each way. Later, of course, if the city has the means, it could consider widening the sdiewalks along Main and restrricting traffic to one way each way.

A two-way RE-conversion (don't forget Main used to be two-way before 1956) will begin the transformation of Main from traffic sewer to a people street-- a street of human exchange in every sense.

With people on the sidewalks and parking available along the curb, life will return to Main St. West -- as it is on James St. South and North. Properties like 327 Main St. West will increase in value -- as residences or as businesses. Owners (or others) will see them as possibilities for investment -- and thus redevelopment and intensification. That, in a better world along Main St. W., would be the fate of 327.

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By Al Rathbone (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2007 at 23:30:12

This Has to Be Stopped. Ignoring the Street itself the buildings on the street are really nice. This is totally crap. This NEEDS to be stopped. Does anyone have any ideas how?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2007 at 11:00:01

Part of the problem is that if you want to run any sort of business in Hamilton, you are required by arcane bylaws written during the car-boom to have on-site parking. So it's no surprise that we are overrun with parking lots -- the bylaws make it illegal NOT to "pave paradise".

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 18, 2007 at 13:59:56

yup, Sean is right. those bylaw requirements drive me nuts. If I wanted to convert an old warehouse into 40 lofts and cater to young urbanites who will walk, cycle and use transit THE CITY WOULDN'T ALLOW IT. They demand a certain number of parking spaces per so many units. On Locke Street (and others like it) the businesses all have to pay a fee for NOT having their own parking. Is this the 1960's???

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2007 at 16:07:56

I have confronted the city on this in tha past, and their response was (paraphrased): "as much as we'd like to see people use their cars less, that's not the reality so we have to have these parking requirements".

Um, excuse me but the REASON everyone continues to drive is BECAUSE WE ARE PANDERING TO THE AUTOMOBILE. If the city isn't going to step up and start the ball rolling on vehicle reduction, who is? What are they waiting for!?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2007 at 08:59:06

For an excellent, detailed, evidence-based study into the fustercluck that is municipal parking requirements, I highly, highly recommend Donald Shoup's book _The High Cost of Free Parking_:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/07...

It's available at the Hamilton Public Libary:

http://tinyurl.com/2wftsx

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By OLDCOOTE (registered) | Posted June 20, 2007 at 16:06:30

I actually toured this property when it was for sale. The two properties are actually one lot (not severed), and the house in question is in very rough shape. In fact, the real estate agent was suggesting that it be demolished.

I think part of the 'problem' with these older homes is that the shared driveways simply are not wide enough to harbour safe passage for many modern cars and trucks.

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