These photos show how the fine grained texture of an urban neighborhood can be destroyed by surface parking. These photographs were taken in my neighborhood, from the intersection closest to where I live. Notice how, in three directions, car storage is handled in much smaller increments (Would that it needn’t be handled at all, but alas…) and so in terms of healthy density (Remember, this is a city, more is usually better) and even the less quantifiable diminution of pedestrian boredom, these streets work.
In the fourth direction however, the most important arguably, the one which connects to Main Street, there is a vast, ugly, stagnant wasteland of Sargasso Sea parking lagoons.
Notice how much more space there is than demand: I have never seen more than half of these spaces being used at any given time. The idea of sharing space, given that retail, commercial, and residential demand almost never overlap is unthinkable because there is no price in lost architecture or pedestrian misery which is too high to ensure that everyone has access at all time to the inalienable right granted by JHVH of free parking. (“So let it be written, so let it be done.” Oops, wrong Deity)
Note the “Cargo Cult” mentality in the design of what was originally an animal hospital (Now a shelter). “Suburbs are prosperous. Suburbs have parking in front and deep set backs. Let’s ignore the traditional setbacks and the design syntax of this entire neighborhood and build a structure designed to fit right in on a a four lane strip mall friendly ‘stroad’!”