Yael T. Abouhalkah

It’s KC vs. Rochester in Final Four of America’s worst downtown ‘parking craters’

Kansas City’s acres of downtown asphalt parking lots are continuing to gain national recognition. It’s just not the good kind.

In online voting today

right here

, Kansas City is matched against Rochester, N.Y., in the Final Four of Streetsblog.org’s attempt to find the worst “parking craters” in America. It’s called “Parking Madness 2014.”

Um, hooray?

If Kansas City steamrolls Rochester

as it did Grand Rapids and St. Louis in previous rounds

, the city will face off against Jacksonville for the national title of worst parking craters in the United States. Jacksonville “beat” Chicago.

As fun or silly as this exercise might seem, it has a serious purpose: Get cities to take more seriously the problems they have created by dedicating so much space to parking lots in downtown rather than to more productive activities, such as residential towers or office buildings.

Angie Schmitt, a reporter for Streetsblog.org, said Monday that this is the second year her group has sponsored “Parking Madness.”

The Parking Madness game is a way of “shaming local communities into taking a new look at these things,” Schmitt said.

That’s an excellent point, especially in Kansas City.

After all, the decay that once was in the heart of downtown Kansas City — where the new Power Light District and Sprint Center are now — is gone.


Because city leaders finally decided to do something about the problem of having so much space dedicated to parking lots that were empty much of the time in that large part of downtown. In addition, of course, many of the buildings in that area had outlasted their useful lives, too, and were torn down.

By the way, Tulsa won the Parking Madness competition in 2013 and then, remarkably,

actually began looking at some reform ideas

that if — ever adopted — might change the city for the better.

In Kansas City, we are used to seeing too much of this parking lot blight every day.

The Parking Madness game is a way of trying to wake some civic leaders, developers and residents to do something about the problem.