Monday, February 11, 2008

Parking, transit, and a public purpose …

  The flurry of post-Kelo state legislation designed to limit eminent domain caused some observers to predict that local governments would be hampered in their ability to engage in useful public projects.  Just such an example arguably is playing out in Denver, where a pending bill (a couple years later than Denverfastracks_2 most) would limit the Regional Transportation District’s power to take property for expanding the light rail FasTracks system by eminent domain.  The bill would allow the taking of private property only for “public transit purposes,” which threatens the ability to take land for parking and for transit-oriented development.  Without parking, the authority expects limited use, which in turn would dry up federal funds.

  I don’t see why parking is any less for “public transit purposes” than is the land for a station or for a slope on the side of tracks – the ability to park one’s car is an integral part of urban rail systems in our age.

  As for the transit-oriented development, the necessity seems less strong.  If rail stations result in a demand for land uses such as apartments, retail, and mixed use (as we all assume it should), these can be achieved through rezoning and letting the supply respond to the demand.

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