Comment of the Day: The Parking Lot in Front

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE PARKING LOT IN FRONT “Is it possible that any place in our region that doesn’t have a huge field of suburban-style parking in front of it starts at a big disadvantage? Even patron reviews I read regarding otherwise popular places like Sugar Land Town Square and The Woodlands Town Center view having to park in a (free) garage and walk around the block as a serious knock on those places. With the Pavilions garage requiring payment and the public sidewalks harboring the occasional homeless person, Pavilions might have an unavoidable disadvantage for many folks. Is free off-street surface parking and never having to set foot on a public sidewalk that essential to a quality experience in Houston? Doesn’t downtown, and the city, have more to offer? Certainly other large cities — even Los Angeles — do.” [Local Planner, commenting on Books-A-Million Now Packing Up Its Books, Leaving Houston Pavilions]

22 Comment

  • I avoid every place that requires me to pay for parking, valet, etc. whether it’s on-or-off street. The garage at the Post development in Midtown started charging for parking and I stopped going to Fish, Coco’s and Farrago. I figure I’m paying enough to eat inside the restaurant. If they insist on charging me for parking then I’m going to insist on eating somewhere else.

  • Yep. Relatively free, relatively plentiful parking really is one amenity that Houston does far better than almost any other large city, in spite of the criticism that it draws.

  • I’d rather park in a covered garage out of the rain and heat. People who claim to pay to go out to eat and drink, but won’t pay a couple bucks to park are strange.

  • The thing is, places that DO charge for parking are not any better or any more special than places with plentiful parking. So, why bother?

  • So, if a place charges to park that’s a deterrent from frequenting that business? It’s a few measly bucks. Why are some people so cheap?

  • The Olive Garden has plenty of free parking.

  • Paying a few dollars to park is no more of a hassle than paying for Houston’s forced valet. Maybe we don’t mind since we moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area, where you either drive around for 20 minutes looking for street parking or count your lucky stars if the place has paid parking.

  • Parking in Houston is just about the easiest and cheapest city to park in that I’ve ever lived in or been in. Very very rarely do I pay for parking within the 610 loop.

  • It’s not the money that’s the issue, it’s the inconvenience of parking several blocks away and schlepping through horrid weather to the restaurant.

  • I will only pay to park at a restaurant that valet parks my car for me. I will not shop at any place at all that requires me to pay to park. If the stores can’t build parking into their costs then they can kiss my business goodbye. I refuse to pay to park – Period – when shopping.

  • Interesting comments so far. Especially since as land values and density increase in much of the urban core, commercial establishments will start to have to (1) either charge for parking or make their offerings more expensive to compensate, (2) have more limited quantity of parking on site relative to demand (more population nearby = more demand for the same number of spaces), and (3) provide parking at a location that’s not at their front door, requiring you to walk more. Will this hurt your quality of life? Would you shift your buying and dining to cheaper lower density locations if these things become prevalent, even if you live inside the Loop?

  • Wow! If you like to live in the 4th largest city in the United States of America you may have to pay to park sometimes. How spoiled are some people? You can’t live in a city this size and expect no traffic, no crime and free parking everywhere you go. Grow up!

  • It’s no worse than having to walk in freezing weather or equally hot weather (New Orleans, Miami). Grow some…

  • I dont mind walking from a free parking spot, even in the heat, but I am not going to pay to park to buy something. I don’t think that is spoiled either – its Houston…We are a car centric city, with extremely cheap real estate. Stores need to absorb parking as a cost of business. As to stores jacking up the prices to cover the cost of parking – the internet ensures that they can’t do that. The only places that can get away with that are upscale restaurants…The rest have too much price competition. Different places will have to cater to different folks. I avoid every single place that I have to pay to park. Every single one.

  • Danielle, I couldn’t agree more: these people need to grow up. The level of whining and bitching about this is laughable. So many people expect Houston to be nothing but a giant suburb forever. They hate change and will sacrifice ANY new and perhaps better life experiences because of parking.
    The kind of people who say “I will never shop or eat at any business where I have to pay to park” are likely the kind of people who don’t tip well, think that big portions equal great food, only eat out with coupons; or are the ones who pull out a calculator to ensure they only pay for what they ate when dining with a group instead of just splitting the bill equally and moving on. To be avoided.

  • I avoid mandatory valet places, but it’s because I really dislike having some unknown stranger driving my car.

  • @Jon – generalize much? It is a matter of principal – if you are not doing a service for me, I am not about to pay for it. When I shop at a store, I am the customer – if the store can’t validate that parking pass then in reality the store was $4-6 more expensive for the item I bought. If I am paying that instead of the store, then I am subsidizing their facility. I probably could have ordered it online, and had it delivered for less than it cost to drive there and get it. Its a free market, the store has to compete….Houston is not New York – dirt is CHEAP here…even in the most expensive parts of town, its still CHEAP by comparison.
    If I go out to eat, I expect valet parking if its a nice restaurant, but if its a casual dining experience, like a Carabbas, then Valet is just an annoying pain. I pay for the things that I see value in, for services that add something to my experiences, etc….I dont pay for the things that are pointless.
    And FYI – I dont cut coupons, I tip very generously for good service, and I don’t know a single person that I hang out with who has ever tried to nickel/dime a bill. I just flat refuse to pay for a no-service added item like parking. It’s not my responsibility its the facilities.

  • marksmu,

    We get it, you love the suburbs. So quit yer bitchin. Other people don’t mind paying to park to go to nice places in the core. No one is saying the Best Buy needs to charge its customers to park in Katy. Hell, even most of the parking in Rice Village is free. There are only a few real permanent pay for parking areas and they’re mostly for downtown commuters. So why all the craziness?

  • Sure, I’ll pay to park or I’ll walk a little if it’s really part of a superior experience. Like Discovery Green, or the Theatre District or even Minute Maid Park. Otherwise, there are easier alternatives outside downtown. I’m also less interested in having my car broken into, which has happened twice downtown, or being aggressively panhandled, which happens about every other time I find myself down there.

  • It’s not just about the parking downtown, its the people. I would rather shop online than be amongst bums walking around aimlessly downtown for a vistim or some copper to steal. Downtown Houston will NEVER be anything until they haul off all the homeless, simple as that. I frequently go to New York City and it is A LOT safer than Houston to walk around. Just saying

  • For people who detest valet (I know I do) getting your motorcycle license, and a motorcycle is handy. Ride on up to the valet stand and they look at you, look at your bike, then tell you to just put it next to the entrance.
    I enjoy parking garages, well, if they’re free. Memorial City Mall, The Galleria, they do parking right. I never have to park more than a few feet from the entry, and rain or shine, I stay dry. Places like that River Oaks high end strip center off of Westheimer, ugh, it’s all surface lots, and cruising around with angry people driving around like crazy to kill you for the next spot. I’d happily pay to park, if there were anywhere in those shops I wanted to go.

  • Good lord. Are you all really casting aspersions on other people’s character over parking preferences? Parking preferences! This is as important a consumption choice as Coke/Pepsi/Dr. Pepper.