Parking has always been a hot topic in Buffalo. Downtown landlords compete with suburban office parks that have the big advantage of acres of free parking. The downtown landlords have had some help from the city and the Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, which offer cheaper parking than privately owned lots in the city.
Many of the BCAR lots in the downtown core are full with monthly patrons - aka commuters.
But subsidizing the use of private cars has been a longtime bugaboo of environmentalists and mass transit advocates. If the cost of parking rose to market levels, more people would take the bus, they contend.
Landlords say more companies would move out to the suburbs, further threatening the city.
Two downtown titans squared off over the subject at Wednesday's Buffalo Place meeting. Carl Paladino, the largest private landowner in the city, and Mark Croce, restaurateur and owner of the Statler City, (both of whom own parking lots) see it differently. Paladino supports building more parking ramps to keep parking cheap, while Croce says let the market determine the price. Having more parking spaces open would boost tourism, he says.
It's a potentially explosive issue. How many firms would bail out of the city if they couldn't afford parking for their employees? Would increases in visitation to the city offset the loss? Would the city be a better place with fewer cars jamming the streets?
- Grove Potter