Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Enough said. Let's get moving on converting surface parking lots while waiting for "development" to happen.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Document, Parking Infrastructure and the Environment, addresses the difficulties in "estimating the monitized health and environmental costs of parking infrastructure."  They do estimate the effects of parking in typical high-impact urban and low-impact rural counties.  In terms of costs "everyone bears this cost in the form of adverse health impacts..."

Parking structures are not environmentally neutral additions to the built environment.

They are unhealthy for the people of our city, especially those living close by. The last thing we need to do in terms of our future is encourage auto dependence.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Spongy Cities

The Guardian

Advocating spongy parking lots to replace the asphalt intense surface parking lots in our cities, particularly the neighborhood I live in here in Portland, Oregon is small potatoes compared to the plans China has for upgrading its urban drainage infrastructure.  Something Houston might have
paid more attention to as they laid down more and more asphalt.

What's the priority?

"To retain valuable water resources and to utilise the natural system to achieve drainage, to establish natural retention, natural infiltration and natural purification – like a sponge city,” says Michael Zhao, an associate and expert in water management in the Shanghai office of global urban designers Arup.


We haven't given up advocating for spongy parking lots here in Portland, but it may take a flood to put the spotlight on neighborhoods like ours that border the Willamette River before we begin to retrofit Portland as a spongy city. Hope not.  It takes considerable time to RESHAPE parking lots, neighborhoods, and cities.

Ruth Ann Barrett,, Portland, Oregon, September 16th, 2017.

Monday, February 22, 2016

We Haven't Done Enough

Storm Water, Long a Nuisance, May be a Parched California’s Salvation"

“Something that was once viewed as a nuisance is now seen as a necessity,” 
said Eric M. Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. 
We haven’t done enough…"

Neither has Portland, Oregon.

Mayor Garcetti’s quote is from the New York Times Article, “Storm Water, Long a Nuisance, May be a Parched California’s Salvation.” It encouraged me to bring to the fore, again, our proposal to making surface parking lots, absorb water (spongy), cut pollution to the Willamette River, and shade our citizens in this period of climate change. It’s a fundamental concept that needs to take hold at the highest levels. 

"For nearly a century, since deadly floods in 1938 killed 97 people, engineers have focused on ways to flush storm water safely out of Los Angeles as quickly as possible. Now, officials want to capture that water…he outlined policy intended to press Los Angeles to increase the amount of storm water captured, to 50 billion gallons by 2035 from 8.8 billion gallons now...

I intend to re-engineer the water system again to keep water here.”
Article in the New York Times

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