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Compact parking spaces suck l Our View


Last updated 5/1/2019 at Noon

We all joke about shopping at Costco where we can buy cases of food or several months’ worth of toilet paper even if we don’t really have space to store it all. But among the things Costco absolutely does right is provide roomy parking spaces for easy loading of all that merchandise into our cars. All parking spaces should be like Costco’s.

I hate compact parking spaces. It’s time to eliminate them from our parking lots. The first ding on my new compact, sports car was painful, of course. It was parked in a compact space, squeezed on both sides by giant SUVs whose drivers ignored the “compact cars” designation.

Virtually everyone does. I commend the (few) drivers of large vehicles who may still abide by the “rule.” Of course, it’s a rule in theory only. There are no enforceable regulations, no parking lot cops who will ticket big vehicle drivers who park in compact spaces. It’s the honor system. Ha!

I’m not sure if some urban planner came up with the idea of compact spaces in hopes of encouraging the public to buy smaller cars or if the idea was a sop to developers to more easily meet zoning requirements. Maybe both.

Whatever the reason, it’s a failure. Who among us hasn’t cursed silently (or out loud) while trying to get into or out of our car because someone has parked their behemoth in a compact space? And it’s going to get worse.

Although recently rising gas prices may cause car buyers to rethink their plans, the trend in recent years has been toward bigger and bigger. Sedans are going the way of the dodo bird.

LMC Automotive, which tracks the auto industry, estimates that by 2022, 84 percent of the vehicles General Motors sells in the U.S. market will be a truck or SUV. Ford expects its domestic SUV and truck sales will rise to 90 percent, and Fiat Chrysler will hit an eye-popping 97 percent.

When it comes to parking those tanks, it truly is a case of inches. In Mukilteo, parking stall widths are required to be 8.5 feet wide. Compact spaces can be 8 feet wide. That means a developer can cram in more spaces simply by designating them for compact cars. The city code says up to 35% of parking lot spaces “#may be# designed for compact cars (italics added) …”

What’s that mean for you when you’re trying to squeeze yourself into or out of your car? If you’re driving a compact, which is around 68” wide, you’ll have a comfortable 17” on each side for you and your passengers in a normal parking stall. If it’s a compact space, you’ve still got 14” on each side. If you’re parked between two other compacts, double those numbers. It’s Costco-esque!

If you’re driving a truck or SUV, on the other hand, which is typically about 80” wide, your maneuvering room is reduced to 11” on each side for a normal parking space or just 8” in a compact space. And this all assumes you’re parked perfectly centered in your stall, and the cars on either side of you are, too. When does that ever happen?

It’s time for compact car parking spaces to go.


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