Any proposal to reduce the size of parking stalls in downtown Salt Lake City probably will be opposed by members of the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
During Tuesday's board meeting, three people said they would rather have fewer parking stalls at their present size than additional spaces that are smaller. Large families in Utah generally dictate they need larger vehicles, they agreed.The discussion over parking came during a presentation by Allen C. Johnson, city planning director, who replied to some questions members of a chamber subcommittee submitted several weeks ago about Salt Lake City's downtown master plan.
Johnson said some changes could be made in the standard for the size of parking spaces and a possibility exists of limiting the number of parking stalls downtown. He said private industry will be asked to provide more of the parking needs.
Businessman I.J. Wagner, a member of the board of governors, said he objects to making parking stalls smaller. "You shouldn't predict what size cars people will be driving in the next few years because it all depends on the price of gasoline and what cars will be popular," he said.
Tom Welch, another board member, said there is plenty of room in the city for parking stalls and they shouldn't be reduced in size. Welch said he has a large family and needs a large vehicle and a large stall in which to park it.
Retired banker Leon Harmon echoed statements by Wagner and Welch.
Businessman Lowell M. Durham, chairman of the Transportation Task Force, said it doesn't make sense to have a cap on the number of parking stalls downtown because of the constant changes being made. "We must maintain some flexibility," he said.
Durham reviewed the study of transportation problems in Salt Lake Valley and said decisions must be made on whether to build a light-rail system, improve the existing mass transit system or add two lanes to I-15. "Even if everything were approved today, it would be eight years for anything to become a reality," he said.
Robert L. Siegel, vice president of the engineering firm of Eckhoff, Watson and Preator, said adding a light-rail system and adding two lanes to I-15 wouldn't solve all of the area's transportation problems. He said good transportation is necessary for economic development.
Responding to a question about the wisdom of adding two lanes to I-15 to handle more traffic when Salt Lake City already violates clean-air standards, Siegel said the two lanes would prevent stop-and-go traffic and result in energy being burned more efficiently.