Politics and parking


Now that the Minnesota State Fair is nearing its end (already!), the lawns of Falcon Heights are feeling the effects. Terribly hot, extremely dry weather will do that to a patch of grass. So will a steady stream of traffic rolling over what used to be a lush, green expanse.

Even as I use the “lush” “green” and “expanse”, I know they are misplaced. Nobody within 2 miles of the fairgrounds cares a whit what their front yard looks like. All that matters is how many F-250 pickups will fit between the hedge and the trees.

And so it will go for the Minnesota State Capitol’s lawn for the next few years, as it becomes a State Fair of sorts for construction crews doing renovation work on Cass Gilbert’s beautiful but needy building..

This is dangerous. Politics is blood sport, they say. But parking issues can turn minor conflicts thermo-nuclear. I saw a guy get fired once because he wouldn’t move his car out of a reserved spot.

The plan at the State Capitol is to put asphalt over the grass for the next four years while renovation work is underway. I’ve seen old pictures of the statehouse from a time when it was surrounded by less-than-adequate housing. The park-like surroundings of today are more pleasant-looking, but every piece of land deserves the chance to serve, at least one time, as a prime example of the best and highest use of real estate – a parking lot.

Work on the building will be extensive and the disruption significant as the capitol is shored up, spruced up and totally filled up with construction workers and their equipment. But the real test will come in 2017, when the work is done and the lawn is restdored – and all those powerful people will be told they are going to lose their convenient front-of-building parking.

Think what might happen when all that dust meets all that paper and political ambition!

When has a parking problem made you angry?

Also in the Daily Planet: Parking, parking, parking: When can the Twin Cities stop obsessing over where we put our cars? (Jay Gabler, 2013)