Leave Dowdy Street homes, switch parking lot plan

The city should back away quickly from the idea of expanding the
City Hall campus for additional parking near the new library by
gobbling up five more homes on Dowdy Street.
The city should back away quickly from the idea of expanding the City Hall campus for additional parking near the new library by gobbling up five more homes on Dowdy Street.

It’s expensive to buy homes, it’s not necessary to expand the City Hall campus at this time, there are relocation costs for the homeowners to consider and, most importantly, it doesn’t make any sense for the campus to go in that direction.

There’s a better option: the city-owned lot that’s at Seventh and Church streets. That’s close to the new library, but there’s an added bonus. That lot will be near the Arts and Cultural Center once it gets built, and expanding the City Hall campus east shifts the progression toward downtown. At some point, perhaps a direct connection can be made. For now, the new parking lot could be a place allowing entry both ways. Park at Church and Seventh and walk downtown for a sandwich before heading to the library.

The lot is certainly big enough to accommodate what’s needed at the library. A full-cost analysis should be delivered promptly to the City Council. It should compare projected Dowdy Street home purchase prices, realistic assessments of relocation costs and lost tax revenue to what it would cost to build a four-feet-down and four-feet-up parking facility.

There’s another cost – albeit esoteric – associated with the Dowdy Street homes and that’s the significant intrusion into a core city neighborhood. Given a very good option, the city should hold the philosophical position of respecting the neighborhood – even if the homeowners are hoping to sell out for top dollar.

Is there anything that impacts a surrounding neighborhood more than a five-lot asphalt parking lot? Besides being an attractive nuisance for bad behavior, a parking lot is just plain ugly.

While we’re on the subject of parking, Gilroy needs to change its policy regarding spaces for compact cars. The current policy is simply to use the largest automobile standard for parking spaces. That’s generously silly and antiquated.

Gilroy needs to get with a new parking program. The days of $1.20 per gallon gas are long gone and the days of Chevy Suburban gas guzzlers are certainly dwindling.

At the new library parking area, 30 percent of the spaces should be reserved for compact cars. That’s a good match for what people in Gilroy are driving and, obviously, it’s a 30 percent more efficient use of space.

Building a new parking facility that uses space more efficiently and creeps closer to tying the City Hall campus to downtown is a win-win for Gilroy. Adding in the fact that it would leave the Dowdy Street neighborhood intact should make it a slam dunk decision for the City Council.

If the Council can somehow convince someone to build a fabulous delicatessen downtown within shouting distance of the new library parking lot, well that would just be putting the Italian salami on top of the fresh French roll.

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