Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The many uses for the Granada Garage

BY LORETTA REDD
Knock, knock…
Who’s there?
No one…except maybe, two bicycles and seven automobiles located in the cavernous confines of the Granada Garage on this particular Sunday. While Santa Barbara’s own Taj Mahal to the automobile sits almost empty, patrons continue to use the lot adjacent to the library, and other city parking facilities.
I guess $19,100,000 just doesn’t buy what it used to today, whether it’s funded from Series 2001 A bond proceeds or directly out of our pockets.

In true Santa Barbara fashion, finding the over-studied and overblown design still lacking, Council voted during construction to expend an additional $420,000 to raise the ceiling height on the subterranean floors by one foot, so it wouldn’t ‘feel so ominous.’ C’mon people, it’s a basement.
That was followed by the discovery of what a difference two feet really could make, especially when measuring the width of Anacapa Street. The error necessitated study after study, plus input from four advisory boards regarding options for auto ingress and egress. Parallel parking in front of the County building was eliminated, and a short but garish partial turn lane appeared. The conclusion was, “90 percent of the time only one car will be waiting to enter the garage requiring no cars to be queued within the structure.”
I’m sorry, but if 90% of the time there’s only one car waiting, how necessary can this opulent and underutilized 575 space garage be? To be fair, I am thrilled to report that during Fiesta this year, the garage occupancy reached 85% occupancy on one occasion, and I assume they weren’t counting the horses.
It is a garage with its own website. It is a garage with a public service counter staffed by city employees, it has semi-attached low income housing, common trash and recycling for local businesses, and a rather grand stairwell. But could there be other uses for the garage while tourists and residents warm to its existence?
For instance, as healthy alternatives to gang activities, the empty floors could be made into a second skateboard park, with high speed ramp way jumps. Or if skateboarding isn’t your thing, we could steal an idea from Goleta and turn it into an ice skating rink. ‘Snoopy on Ice,’ and with Zamboni races in the garage, it could be quite a draw.
Since the city is on a mission about mixed use environmentally friendly projects, how about we embellish on the recent design for the Chapala Street transit center and build a day care and dog kennel combo on an upper floor, with energy generating wind towers, as long as playing fetch or soccer doesn’t send someone’s darling sailing over the edge.
Here’s a money maker… start with a wine tasting center on the top floor, and have the cops set up a breathalyzer test at the exit gate. If you blow too high a number, there would be a Starbucks sobering center on the same floor.
Other ideas might include a roof-top drive in movie theatre with the big screen projected on the back of the Granada Tower office-condos. Or a pricey RV parking center…I can see the Good Sam Club flag flying high with a tourist center, bicycle repair, coffee cafe, and other amenities right on site. Better yet, how about dedicating the two basement floors to a Target store, for those housewives burning precious petroleum products to get to their outlet malls in Ventura.
Ironically, I believe one reason the garage is underutilized is because, well, it just doesn’t look like a garage. At the cost of almost twenty million dollars, surely there are some uses for this edifice other than sitting empty awaiting the Granada Theater’s occasional evening performances, or the once a year Fiesta parade. I’d love to hear your ideas.
Knock, knock…who’s there?
Hopefully, not the same group who’ll be in charge of approving the downtown transit center!

9 comments:

David Pritchett said...

The height of one of the floors was increased so it is compliant with federal law about access for people in wheelchairs, blind, etc., often who ride around in those big vans.

Check your facts, or at least do not ignore them, Loretta.

Now that this editorial has so thoroughly described how underutilized this new garage is for car parking, I certainly hope Loretta does not complain in a future editorial about how this part of downtown Santa Barbara is lacking in car parking spaces.

The spaces are here in this garage, so when the garage is full, then we will have a shortage.

Institutional Memory said...

I don't know about making the lower garage level ADA compliant, but a fact is that then Mayor Harriet Miller wanted the below-ground levels of the garage to have a higher ceiling height so she and others would not feel so claustrophobic and threatened.

Mayor Miller's desire for higher floor to ceiling height was widely known at the time.

I thought Harriet Miller was a pal of Loretta Redd.

Patrick said...

I parked at the garage last Friday, around 2 pm. Two floors were completely full, so I had to drive all the way to the top. When I returned to my car around 4 pm, I had to wait 15 minutes in line at the exit toll booth. I hardly think that is symptomatic of under-utilization. Each month, it seems the garage gets more use. Just wait -- the public is catching on and using the garage more and more.

Milt in SB said...

Is Ms. Redd really this short-sighted, or is this just another gleeful poke at whatever the City does? When the Granada is in operation we will need these spaces for performances and the increased business activity that will surely follow the Granada's opening.

If the City had not built this garage I have no doubt that we'd soon be reading of Ms. Redd's outrage when the resulting parking problems became manifest.

Karen said...

Assuming that this garage is supposed to stand for at least 30 years, if it were full in the first couple of years, wouldn't that mean that it was underdesigned?

Joe Allegretti said...

I assume your "heart" is sort of in the right place and you're just "trying" to be humorous, but the tone of many of your columns such as this one really is just full of complaint, whining and negativity.

Seriously, that kind of negativity is not what this or any city needs, and it's a shame to have to regularly read about the bitter/antagonistic worldview you express, but I know you have equally bitter fans aplenty in this town who will view almost every public project as a Golgotha of waste and ineptitude.

Secord in a skirt said...

Has Loretta Redd just become another Travis Armstrong but with much better hair?

If the Daily Sound is to be taken seriously and even be good enough to get people to pay for subscriptions, then its editorials also need to be serious as well, based on some real substance instead of this routine pseudo-populist whining.

A long way still to go on being taken seriously to run with the big dogs.

Anonymous said...

I've used the Granada Garage on several occasions recently and have found it to be more full than empty - usually a couple of floors full and another couple with under 15 open spaces. That would seem about right if we want to have some capacity for bigger events and future growth...

Dick said...

Humorous criticism needs to be clever. This isn't.

I've wondered why the Granada Garage doesn't fill up and have concluded:
1) Old habits require a time to change, it will fill up.
2) The exiting design(s) are not as effective as they should be. (Opening the west side exit rather than the east side exit might help.)

The 'vacancy' number signs makes this a much better garage than most -- there's almost never a waiting line to get in. (When you're late for something that access is great.)

I'm with the person who wonders about the tone of this and compares it to the NewsPress editorials. We deserve better.