It was unfortunate that the Summit parking "demand" analysis assumed a Summit with unchanged transit options, steady gas prices, and little consideration of driverless cars. Five states have approved driverless cars, and 11 others are considering them, including NJ. The report neglected to understand the Uberization of our lives occurring in real time. Uber, Lyft, ZipCar, and other car-sharing services are transforming the parking experience and saving citizens time, money and unnecessary spending.
There's a growing belief among updated architects and designers that parking garages (if they are in fact to be built) must come with the ability to be re-purposed in the future.
The Desmond report, although thorough in its approach, does not allow for such flexibility. It might have been more productive to have offered the residents of Summit a budget estimate on how to restructure our existing parking lots for electric cars and more innovative multi purpose uses. (By the way, we'd also gain 50-75 spaces immediately if there was some serious enforcement on owner/employee parking and feeding the meters.)
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But it's not just the Desmond & Associates group that has little foresight or ability to articulate the impact that technological change will have on our community parking garages. It's also our backward looking Summit Common Council. Proposing additional fat to our city budget through bond issuance without seriously considering the future that most of our millennials demand is reactionary at best.
This is a well intentioned and hard working Council, but retrograde in its vision for Summit, stubborn in evolving and differentiating its approach on costs versus investments, and tone deaf to the voices of our citizens. The wasted consulting dollars used in analyzing a new "1980's" style parking garage is only one of the many issues where the demands of our citizens and the investment of our taxpayer dollars should no longer be in the hands of entrenched stewards who are frozen in time.
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