Parking Downtown

This is sparked by some interesting history and background on parking in Fresno from Jerry Duncan on Mindhub.

Subject: [MindHub] Downtown Parking Reality 101

There has been some discussion going on recently regarding the cost of parking downtown. For those interested in learning the reality of how it really works, I offer these comments.

First a little history. Before the current administration took office in 2001, parking downtown really was a mess. There was a serious shortage in the number of spaces (there were only 5,680 stalls total in downtown) and what little the City had was filthy and unsafe. The structures were covered
in graffiti and none of the elevators or escalators worked. The parking meters on the streets had been removed and replaced with two hour of free parking (supposedly to bring people back to downtown). When I attended then State Senator Jim Costa’s Downtown Task Force meetings on Downtown
Revitalization in 2000, we found out that this “free” parking was being used primarily by downtown employees who would park on the street, leave work every two hours and move their cars.

The number one complaint we heard then about downtown was that there was no parking and they were right. In addition, parking rates were so low that no private parking structures could be built because they wouldn’t pencil out. When the current administration took office the downtown parking problem became one of our first priorities for downtown. As Chairman of the Fresno Redevelopment Agency, I worked very hard with the Mayor to develop a plan to solve this problem. We knew that without an adequate supply of clean, well maintained and affordable parking, the revitalization of Downtown Fresno would never happen.

The execution of this plan over the previous seven years has resulted in some pretty remarkable results. First, since 2001 the City has added 3,600 additional spaces of parking downtown in parking lots and parking structures. Did you know the new Convention Center parking structure cost
almost as much as the baseball stadium?

Second, because we raised overall parking rates to a still very competitive and reasonable level building private parking structures now made economic sense and 2,900 new stalls have been added by private companies. It is important to note that these private parking structures were the first ones built downtown in over 40 years and didn’t cost the taxpayers one cent.

There are currently 12,180 parking spaces available in downtown Fresno (an increase of 115% since 2001). Of the 12,180, 4,280 are privately owned and 7,900 are operated by the City of Fresno.

The parking fund, which operates as a separate cost center, is currently running a $5 million deficit which is currently being subsidized by all the taxpayers in Fresno, even those who don’t come downtown. The recent increases are part of a 10 year plan to try to break even. It has been the
City’s objective to reasonably pass on as much of the cost of providing parking downtown to the people who actually use it.

Even with the increases, Downtown Fresno is still one of lowest cost places to park in North America. Don’t believe me, look here: link.

It was interesting to me that someone suggested we place parking meters in other shopping areas around town to raise money. The reality is that unlike Downtown Fresno merchants, those merchants who are not located in downtown are paying for their customers parking. The cost of providing “free” parking to their customers is passed on by their landlords. If you shop at any shopping center outside of downtown, you are paying for the cost of the parking when you buy something because the business owner is passing on this cost in the price of their goods or services.

If the cost of lower parking is that important to the business owners downtown, they can provide their own parking (it is a requirement of development everywhere except downtown Fresno) or form a parking assessment district to raise funds to lower the cost of parking in city lots. I’m sure
the City would be willing to look at reducing the parking cost by the amount they raise.

Jerry Duncan

Recent semi-related links:
Livable streets report
Street design goals
Thinking about parking (DC)
Gas and the suburbs
Midnight oil
Suitcase bike
CA High speed rail analysis

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Another book that feels like a good White Wolf crossover game rolled into novel form. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter who interacts a lot with the local werewolf pack. Elsewhere in the book are Mages and Vampires (from a much more distant vantage), and a Fae gremlin. They all integrate well; while each mostly sticks to their own kind, there is enough familiarity between the supernaturals that they interact. In many ways it’s like Dresden Files, but with a coyote shapeshifter as the hero, skewing the perceptions of the other supernaturals to match the new vantage.

The writing is solid and clips along at a good pace; Mercy is a sympathetic main character, while the other significant characters hold up and have depth. This book has a lot of intra-werewolf politics and implies that the other supernaturals have similarly complex internal relations. It features a solid plot and likeable characters; I’ll look for the sequel. [The remaining books are: Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, and Bone Crossed (in Feb. 2009).]

Next game: Everyone’s busy, date unsure

Kevin and Mike make Friday and Saturday unlikely– right now, we’re looking at Sunday, August 24th, but that will depend on Kevin’s work schedule. As soon as he knows I’ll update the calendar. Ideally, our game status will always be at that link, usually in red.

If Sunday doesn’t work, we may be in for a long haul– Eric and family are visiting the next weekend, and Dad may head to Carpenteria to do repair work thereafter.

If you can think of anything other commitments that’ll occupy you on game day, please post them.

Link clutter buildup severe. Initiate dump.

Talking about 4e’s second round of errata.
Cool fillable, pickable character sheet
Power Cards, character sheet, etc. links for 4e Dungeons and Dragons–
Levi’s Metasystem is up on Fang Langford’s wiki. Cool!
Via Greywolf: Quick cheap minis: 1, 2, 3.
Directed scenes: with a cool example.
Mini poker chips (for 4e conditions)
4e animal stats
ancient maps
Updated location for Maximum Game Fun
Encounter Formula: Challenge (combat, social, puzzle or other) + unique element (memorable NPC, fighting on a rope bridge, etc.) + a way to advance even if the party fails (although perhaps with penalties) = a successful encounter.
Points of Conflict: Self contained 4e encounters, ready to drop in.

Recent Alignments discussion:
(look for forge: Anti-pattern discussion)

Short stories– The First Commandment by Gregory Benford and The Sky is Large and the Earth is Small by Chris Roberson

End of life planning
: Sobering, a good checklist

Look for: Whitney Design Retractable 5-Line Mini Dryer ($10) for easy energy efficency

Omnivoracious (books blog)
Land of Nu stories
A nasty practice: Not just earmarks, but skimming earmarks.

Cool quick reference about major states in the world today: Rising Powers
Stolen Pixels (webcomic)
Beyond Protocol and MMO/RTS game.
Sounds tasty; Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy

Guy Gavriel Kay’s series began with The Summer Tree, continues in The Wandering Fire, and concludes in The Darkest Road.

The Summer Tree starts off quickly; leaping into the action before the main characters understand what’s going on. The five students from our world are dragged into Fionavar, where they’re faced with difficult tasks that change them. I was upset at the author’s treatment of Jennifer… even though I vaguely remember it serves a higher purpose, it’s a terrible role for a character to suffer. I hope that when I get into Wandering Fire I’ll see more of the character.

The core three are together but each is affected by Fionavar differently. Kevin seems to drift along the shallowest; enjoying the world and its explorations– there is more, but he’s the least affected. Paul’s grief finds its end– his change is mostly internal and dramatic. I appreciated the author’s skill in getting us into Paul’s mindset without starting the story earlier– the details that come from Paul and Kevin’s discussions are tantalizing, and his time on the tree reveals all. Kim is the most changed, at first acted on, but her decisions and choices establish her quickly as a deep character.

Dave’s separate time is very separate– but it doesn’t feel as tangential this time. The friends and community he finds prove important to his story… it works very well.

Wandering Fire starts off strong; Jennifer gets some spotlight time to start and Paul continues his solid competence. Their return to Fionavar involves an interesting hurdle that’s quickly disposed of; Kim’s later acquisition drives a lot of the remaining two books. She brings Arthur with her, who is known and recognized without introduction.

Fionavar is suffering from horrific winter– though it’s almost midsummer according to their calendar. The telling stutters here a bit, leaping forward then back filling somewhat annoyingly. Dave and Kevin soon rejoin the Dalrei, where Kevin finds himself reduced to a torchbearer. It’s an interesting development and shows the author’s confidence in allowing smart characters to realize inconvenient things. The action starts to spin up pretty quickly from there; Kevin winds up making a true and final sacrifice that… seemed very strange, but felt authentic. The relations between the kings are well done– the one upmanship and subtle posturing ring true.

Just as Jennifer’s becoming a character I care about, she gets Guinevere layered over her. It kind of works but has drawbacks– she immediately becomes more remote. (We never experience the courtship and winning of love– it’s just realized memory and feels like shorthand). Finn’s quick love works out pretty well, somewhat surprisingly. Paul’s meddling with Dani goes wrong, appropriately. The splintering into several independent quests feels right. Paul and Arthur manage to make a “we sail places as cargo” plot work out fine; the length of the voyage is implied well, but the story really focuses on the conflicts instead of dragging. Jennifer (and Kim) each push Dani in their own ways, and it works. The novel ends on the high note of Paul and Arthur’s quest, while appropriately keeping the outcome of the war overall doubtful.

The final book continues with several good quests; I enjoyed the dwarven visit and felt the terrible debate when the Belrath demanded. Lancelot’s involvement with Jennifer/Guinevere is very abstract; they clearly have feelings [due to written history, not events in these books], but he’s shuttled off quickly. Lancelot’s kind of strange; he does great deeds, but always feels like a loose end– why is he around again? He mostly exists to pressure Jennifer’s relationship with Arthur, but all three bonds are defined rather than experienced by the reader.

In the end it comes together in a very strong concluding fight between the gathered forces of Light and Dark. The aftermath and goodbyes are interesting and round it off well.

While this isn’t my favorite Guy Gavriel Kay book, I enjoyed it quite a bit and saw a lot of new and interesting things on this reread.

Next Game: Friday August 15th

Last week it sounded like everyone will be available on Friday. You’re a couple of days away from the Ogre’s city, just finished a battle alongside trolls, and have a wagon with ten heavily armed gnomes that you’re escorting. The rain has been pretty intense, which makes you wonder how the wagon will fare tomorrow…

Random gaming update

Make a 4e Druid from a Fey Pact Warlock.
Earthdawn is being released as a 4e world setting
Mount clarifications
Chatty reports on the new catalog spilling that Players Handbook 2 will include Druid, Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Bard classes (eight in all). New races will include the gnome, the half-orc, and the Goliath.

Starblazer Adventures is preordering.
Triple Ace Games is a Pulp RPG publisher.
Actual Play of SotC:
The Revenge of Zombie Kong and the Lightning Zombies
Hadrian Helm and Johnny Stripes vs. the Evil Earth
Spirit of the Century presents: Revenge of the Tyrian Deathlord!
Centurion Science Heroes vs. the Murder Nation

Tailoring the plot obstacles to the PCs is an Eigen plot
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is returning to print. (It’s supposed to be a lot like a freeform version of Once upon a Time.)
Advice on pacing: one of the hardest things to get right in a game.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence is supposed to be an excellent and disturbing book by Jack Womack. (It’s hard to find– the library doesn’t have it.)

Chris points to good advice from Lester Chan to ensure that you don’t fill up your wordpress revision table.

This is a great example of humility over on Rhubarb Pie.