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Where have the parking places gone?

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By The Staff

For approximately 10 years, I have had a standing luncheon engagement at a popular restaurant in the Mari-Mac Shopping Center.  I used to drive right up and park a half block or less away for a quick and convenient lunch.  But over the years things have changed and my friends and I have a hard time finding a place anywhere near the restaurant row at Mari-Mac to park. The problem built up slowly.

First, Mari-Mac began allowing its tenants to put dumpsters and shopping cart corrals in the parking places.  Then it allowed them to put storage pods and large storage trailers in the parking places. More recently Mari-Mac is allowing tenants to store trailers in its parking lot, which are used to sell food at fairs and other special events. In addition, the Mari-Mac management parks large pieces of heavy equipment in its lot like front-end loaders.  And at certain times of the year it stores large piles of snow in the parking places. All of these items displace the automobiles for which the parking lot was originally intended.

With so many parking spaces no longer available, Mari-Mac customers began searching for parking on Central Ave. But county workmen came and tore up the parking places in favor of more crosswalks for pedestrians and for little islands in which they planted trees and shrubbery resulting in the deaths of more parking places.  

When I inquired how the county planned to solve these parking problems, I was told that the county was negotiating to put in an underground garage near the Mari-Mac shopping center, but later, I heard that deal fell through.     

Then, last week, a new set of orange signs appeared next to the few parking places left on the north side of the Mari-Mac. They said “Bus Stop.” I noticed that there were three new bus stop signs along Central Avenue on the north side of the Mari-Mac shopping center, even though there was already a bus stop with a bench there.

I rarely visit downtown Santa Fe any more because of the difficulty of parking there. Los Alamos is now developing the same problem.  How many bus stops do we need in one block?  Why are we putting trees in the on-street parking? Doesn’t the Mari-Mac Shopping Center realize that each time it uses up another parking place for storage or garbage that it is reducing the ability of customers to reach the businesses there?  

The automobile has not yet been replaced and until it is, wise business people and county administrators will allow for customer parking not too far from businesses.

Betty Gunther

Los Alamos