Don’t Park On Us


At our weekly meeting last night, the Redmond Planning Commission was asked to review potential changes to the Transportation chapter* of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.  Microsoft, ever-protective of the short term interests of its investors, dispatched a well-dressed and polite attorney from a reputable private firm to advocate editions that would have weakened Redmond’s progressive parking requirements, at least in the opinions of a majority of my fellow commissioners. These limits (~3 stalls/1000 squre feet) are designed to encourage what our City planners call “modesplit”.  Modesplit is the division of commuters into different travel modes, such as car, bike, and bus. I am a modesplitter. I drive some days and ride my bicycle on others.

Hmmmmmm.

Having recently denuded Microsoft employees of an attractive and meaningful (lo, some have argued economical) inducement to commute by means other than single occupancy vehicle, Of COURSE MICROSOFT IS GOING TO NEED MORE PARKING SPACES! The cost efficacy folks who cut on campus towel service do not appear to be as prescient or as well-informed as the company’s legal council. That being said, I may have made the same decision had I been in their beancounter shoes. More thoughts in my previous post on the subject, Microsoft Throws in the Towel.

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*I’m planning to post the latest version of the City’s Transportation chapter online but my ISP is down temporarily. If you’d like a copy, contact me directly.

Comments (9)

  1. I guess you’ve saved me from blogging about the view from outside my office window.

    I sit on the 4th floor of building 50, and at 11:00 or so every morning, I get to watch the endless circles of cars as they try to find parking in building 50’s too-small parking lot.

    And why is it too small? Because the city of redmond decided to prohibit Microsoft from putting in one parking space per office 🙂

  2. Mike says:

    MS people need to stop using the word "efficacy".

  3. "Efficacy" is WallStreetSpeak, I think. I don’t like it either. It’s unimaginative.

    Microsoft, like any other "user" in Redmond, negotiates a parking agreement with the City when planning the construction of a new building. Are folks doubled up in Building 50? Are there temps in conference rooms? If so, it’s possible that the folks who negotiated the parking for your building failed to anticipate that such would ever be the case.

    Given Microsoft’s excellent shuttle system, I’m surprised we haven’t yet seen the construction of satellite parking lots, especially in buildings like Cedar Court where parking can be a total nightmare.

  4. mike says:

    <grump>

    I wouldn’t bash MS’s efforts to promote alternative transportation. Every employee has the option to get a free annual bus pass, the company supports vanpooling, the company provides designated parking for carpools, and they provide a "free ride home" program for commuters who miss their scheduled transportation. In addition, MS offers subsidized cafeterias that you can walk to instead of driving to lunch, kitchens on every floor, and coolers stocked with free drinks. The company runs a substantial shuttle service to ferry employees around the far-flung campus precisely to avoid the need to drive. Against all that, deciding to make bicyclists (and runners and those who prefer to shower on MS’s dime instead of at home) bring their own towels to work — oh, the horror — seems pretty golldarn trivial.

    What company in Redmond or the U.S. does a better job of promoting *not* driving to work?

    </grump>

  5. I certainly do not bash MS’s efforts to promote alternative transportation. In fact, I am darned proud of Microsoft’s leadership among US corporations in this regard, as an employee, a resident of Redmond and planning commissioner, and as a longtime resident of the region. Microsoft is "a city on a hill". That’s precisely why I react so strongly to any sign that the company might be backing away from, or beginning to back away from its progressive, efficient, and economical transportation programs. What’s next on the cut list? The annual bus pass?

  6. lauraj says:

    Too bad *you* have to post the Transportation Plan draft rather than it being available on the redmond website. Will this be discussed at tonight’s meeting? If so, then this is a plug that folks in redmond can watch it on cable. The schedule lives at: http://www.ci.redmond.wa.us/redmond/web1/rctv_schedule.asp.

    As a planning commissioner, Korby is a tireless advocate for the residents of Redmond AND the businesses in Redmond, always thinking ahead about things that are new to some of the other commissioners. The work of the planning commission is hard and thankless — the commissioners are all volunteers and put in a ton of work in addition to the weekly 3 hour meetings. Korby sticks by his guns about what’s important and has one of the most balanced viewpoints of anyone I know, on or off the planning commission. I’d guess that if you went back through his blog, you’d see more positive comments about Microsoft than you would negative.

  7. Thanks Laura,

    I should add that for one of the same reasons I think it was a bad idea to cut towel service, I agree with the plan to scale back on the provision of free soda pops. If it’s true that high fructose corn syrup is linked to growing rates of obesity in the United States and if it’s true that healthcare expenses and thus insurance payouts are greater for overweight employees than for trim and fit ones, then reducing the availability of soda pops in Microsoft buildings (currently, one cooler per floor) is a win-win for shareholders and probably employees as well.