Monday, May 04, 2009
Town Meeting Tonight
Amherst's Annual Town Meeting begins tonight. Assuming we take the warrant articles in order, I predict we'll zoom through the first six and then spend over an hour debating and dividing Article 7, the proposal to extend the Municipal Parking District. We'll spend lots of time arguing over whether or not a couple of residential properties should be included or not.
Personally, I'd like to extend the Municipal Parking District (MPD) to all of Amherst, because I don't think it's a good idea to MANDATE parking (and the MPD frees developers from the "you must provide at least XYZ parking spaces" zoning requirements).
I suppose people are worried that a developer will create a big-old apartment complex next door and expect their tenants to park on the street (in front of THEIR house!) instead of putting in adequate parking. That Amherst will end up like Hoboken New Jersey, with cars circling the streets for hours looking for parking spots...
I suppose there's a very small chance that could happen (I don't see Amherst ever getting as dense as Hoboken), but even if it did wouldn't that be a good thing? All of the Master Plans I've read, going all the way back to the late '60s, say that one of the goals for Amherst is to encourage walking, bicycling and public transit and discourage car ownership.
Either people like to talk about alternative transportation but don't actually want to take concrete actions to promote it.
Or maybe a majority like alternative transportation (so it gets into the planning documents) but a large enough minority secretly like their cars enough to block any zoning amendments that might inconvenience them (it only takes 33% of Town Meeting to defeat a zoning change).
I bet it's a combination of both.