Saturday, July 25, 2015

Spongy Parking Lots

Spongy Cities
is an innovative concept driving "changing the relationship between cities and water in these times of climate change and uncertainty." It's about viewing Portland as an aqua sponge that captures water for us to drink and to use for irrigation rather than carrying it off to the Willamette and on out to the ocean, a process dating back to Roman times. Existing and innovative tools exist to help us make the transition to what we need today and for generations to come. 

Spongy Parking Lots 
is this spongy perspective applied to solving the major problems of surface parking lots that dot the landscape of our cities especially here in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.  

Problems with 
Surface Parking Lots include the following:

wasting precious water with heavy rain days being particularly worrisome as they may result in combined sewage overflow (CSO); water run-off contains toxins e.g. gasoline, heavy metals, and nasty Polycyclinc Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs); and, given climate change and our objectives to reduce carbon emissions they service our citizens who have other mobility options and have not yet been motivated to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Research on the attitudes and beliefs of Oregonians (video)indicates a majority of our citizens are supportive of lifestyle changes that reduce the effects of climate change on our planet, people, and economy. 

A group of Portland entrepreneurs 
and sustainability advocates, possessing a wide range of skills and expertise in Portland's Green Cities target industry, are proposing a demonstration project to convert a surface parking lot from being a big problem to better serving the community and Mother Earth in terms of performance and aesthetics. Given the number and age of parking lots and the neighborhood's low income status, we 
have recommended Old Town Chinatown for the demonstration. 


They generate taxes at a much lower rate than neighboring commercial properties.

To support our efforts we recommend liking Spongy Parking Lots on Facebook, and watch the video, Surface Parking Lots June Update.  A print copy for describing the proposal and our team members is available for download here.  

Other print and video resources available include:

Portland Development Commission's (PDC)
Five Year Action Plan (July 2014) for Old Town Chinatown in Portland, Oregon.

PlanGreen, Mary Vogel, Blog Article, Universal Tax Abatement for Downtown Portland

Surface Parking Lots June Update, Video Presentation

Parking Preservation in Portland, Video Presentation

Mobility in Portland, Whitepaper

Portland's Climate Action Plan (2015) 

Oregon's Drought Watch (Website)

Websites of our team members:

Mary Vogel of Regenerating Communities

Kelli A. Grover, Firwood Design Group (FDG): Surveying, Engineering, Planning

Maria Cahill, Green Girl Land Development Solutions: Cost Effective Storm Water Infrastructure

Suenn Ho, Resolve Architecture: Architectural and Urban Design

Marianne Zarkin: Landscape Architects

Ruth Ann Barrett, Voices of Sustainability


Ruth Ann Barrett,, 415.377.1835