This Friday, we celebrate an annual tradition at Strong Towns: the national #BlackFridayParking event. While your fellow Americans are busy fighting each other for 50% off toys and discounted televisions at the stores in your town, we want to give you a different job to do: Snap some photos of the parking lots surrounding these stores.
Why do we do this? Because, even on a day that is supposed to be one of the biggest shopping events of the year, we've noticed that year after year after year after year, the parking lots are simply never full. Our nation is covered with miles and miles of parking lots that sit empty around the clock—yes, even on the biggest shopping day of the year.
The Problem with Parking Minimums
Unfortunately, most of our cities require this excessive parking by law. That's right: Whether you're opening a clothing store or building a duplex, your city's zoning code likely has a "parking minimum" that mandates 2 spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail, or per housing unit, or any number of other ridiculous parameters that aren't based on real demand. We've even seen a city that required bowling alleys to have 2 parking spots per lane.
This week on our website, we’ve been publishing guides to helping people in your community—maybe your city council, maybe local merchants, maybe the school district (our president Chuck Marohn has been documenting his personal struggle with this one), maybe just your neighbors—understand why it is that too much parking is a drain on your city’s productivity. All that extra asphalt wastes your town’s most precious and finite resource: land. If you missed them the first time around, check out:
A picture, however, is worth a thousand words. So as you work off your turkey hangover, help us show the nation why parking minimums are a problem. We invite you to step outside with your phone or camera and take some photos for #BlackFridayParking.
How to Participate in Black Friday Parking Day
On Friday, November 23, 2018, get outside and take pictures of the parking lots in your town.
Upload your photos to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #blackfridayparking. Bonus points if also include a note about how that parking lot could be put to better use in your community. (Housing? Offices? Park? You decide!) It's also helpful if you note the location of the parking lot and estimate how full it is.
Follow the #blackfridayparking hashtag on social media to view other peoples' photos from across the country. We’ll post a roundup later with some of the best content.