Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A Lot...of Parking Lot
The colors are a bit more appealing, and it appears from all the hopeful green blotches that the trees won't be moved to a tree museum. But the revised hospital footprint as of August 18 (thanks to Jonah at Save Charity for getting us up to speed graphically) remains true to the original footprint reported by the Times-Picayune in one key regard: it's replete with parking lots.
Inner city regions are characterized by a certain density, even more so in historic sections of New Orleans. Demolishing existing homes and businesses to make way for vast expanses of single-level parking lot is not only unwise given the loss of historic structures, but also degrading to residents in this case. It's salt in the wounds - making way for a hospital is bad enough, making way for a field of asphalt is worse yet. The property rights of those whose land would be subject to a government taking might get compensation, but is the ends of this planned government taking really a permissible "public use" in the first place - the paving over of multiple city blocks for parking? And even if it is found legally permissive, is it defensible, generally?
When Constitutional rights are involved, as well as an entrenched popular and legal concept like property, one would think that planners could find a way to concentrate the parking needs of the facility rather drastically and, correspondingly, minimize the need to employ eminent domain. A quick review of the existing Mid-City neighborhoods that surround the footprint should, one would think, give architects and planners an idea that the aesthetics endemic to Mid-City are a little different than, say, suburban Iowa. Apparently, all the ruckus that preceded the Section 106 meeting back in August fell on deaf ears, however.