There isn't a lot to be said in favor of spending public money researching magical thinking, but that is what has been and will be taking place in the search for an elevated parking garage on the city lot on the north side of Alder street.
Simple arithmetic says it can never be built. Charging even a reasonable amount per space per usage can't come close to paying off the $6 million construction cost. Seeking grants from the state of Washington, the federal government, or the Tooth Fairy should not be encouraged.
Having a parking problem, or the perception of having a parking problem, is a good problem to have. In the 1980s, for example, there was not much talk of a parking problem and not enough business downtown to create one.
I lived in Japan for long enough to learn that the Japanese have to prove they have a place to park a car before they can get a title to own one.
The happy story of unlimited two-hour free parking in downtown Walla Walla is drawing to a close. The practical and fair solution is for metered parking.
The Downtown Foundation, I believe, has evidence it will work. If something is free long enough, parking for example, patterns of behavior will emerge in which some people take advantage of it and use more than might be thought of as their fair share, while others have to do with what they perceive to be less than their fair share. Charging for it will change all of that and be fair to literally everybody. If you can afford to drive a car, you can afford to pay to park it.
Leaving the peripheral parking spots free of charge, such as the one at Sumach and Colville - gasp a full block and half from Macy's - should provide sufficient all-day parking for people who work downtown.
Downtown workers should not be demonized, they are us after all and provide business downtown. Gaming the system and moving cars every two hours will no longer be practical. Paying by the hour will remove the incentive for us to clog the retail and business streets with worker vehicles.
More parking spaces could be put on a city block than the net gain of a five-story edifice on Alder for a third of the money. Do the math. Get realistic. Abandon the magical thinking. Learn to pay for parking.
Walla Walla Walla