This economic development report outlines several demolition permits all recommended by staff. A few thoughts:
1. The central policy area states that no demolition can occur without a building permit for a replacement structure.
The medical clinic on Wilson St. proposes to demolish two homes for parking and yet staff recommend the permit. Enough is enough. The area around Wilson, Rebecca, Catharine, John and so on is nothing but a huge wasteland of parking. Why are we adding more?
2. We should extend this 'central policy area' into much of the urban lower city. We read these reports every month and every month there are homes being demolished with no replacement structure but staff continues to recommend the applications since the lands fall outside the "central policy area".
Is that the extend of thought and vision going into evaluating these applications? Some staffer pulls out a map and says "well, it's outside the central policy area. Let's let them demo".
We are killing our city. We are still acting like it's the 1960s and suburbanizing the downtown. The lower city should bring new life. Instead, it brings more parking lots, empty land and no destinations for people to visit.
A true downtown (like the one Jason just visited in Boston) is full of buildings facing every street with no surface parking and no minimum parking requirements like we have in Hamilton.
People don't come to Hamilton to check out our empty urban lots. They do go to Boston to check out a full downtown core devoid of one-way, mega-highways and dead zones of empty land.
3. Finally, City Council should revisit this issue of requiring developers and builders to provide off street parking in the lower city.
Again, enough is enough. Haven't we learned our lesson yet? Parking is the lowest use for prime downtown land, and yet Hamilton city hall requires more of it everytime someone wants to build an apartment building or new office building.
New York City has maximum parking guidelines. In other words, a builder of a new building in that city is only allowed to provide parking for 15 or 20 percent of the units. In Hamilton we demand parking for 100 percent of the units.
One should be allowed to buy an old building, turn it into lofts and leave it at that. People want to live in an exciting, urban downtown, not a slightly higher-density version of the Mountain.
We urge Council to show leadership on this issue and put a stop to this practice. We are setting ourselves further and further back from the stated goals of urban redevelopment and creating a vibrant downtown by allowing people to demolish perfectly good buildings in order to provide us with empty land and a scarred streetscape.
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