Easy answer not best solution

In the classic Sci-Fi novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” an alien visiting Earth names himself Ford Perfect – based on the assumption that cars are the dominant form of life on this planet.

Bruce Wallace

Bruce Wallace

It’s an understandable mistake.

Even in Southern Boone County, we are discovering that we don’t have enough parking spots.

Don’t believe we are that big yet?

You should have attended Friday night’s Eagles football game.

Well, let’s back things up a bit.

Before school started, SoBoCo district administrators held a meeting concerning……education? Extra-curricular activities? Parking problems?

Yes, yes and yes.

It is pretty natural for administrators to have multiple meetings about education and activities – parking has not been on the agenda quite so often.

Due to construction around the high school, however, parking has become a bit more of a premium. A number of spaces were lost on the east side of the high school gym and those convenient fire lane spaces used by parking scofflaws and media guys have also been blocked by some obnoxious gates on the north side of the high school.

Administrators knew they would have to convince fans to park further away from the athletic field.

The the Eagles Booster Club went all Warren Buffet-capitalist on us and decided to sell the rights to the parking spots on the east side of the high school near Ashland City Park.

I don’t know about Pat Lacy, by my plan to park anywhere north of the SoBoCo Middle School was to arrive just after 6 p.m.

If you arrived after 6:30 p.m., congratulations. You survived your hike from the south side of the high school ag building.

OK – maybe it wasn’t that bad, but what is going to happen if this football team wins a few more games and shows up at their home field for homecoming unbeaten?

I will guarantee you that the booster club would be able to double the price on those spaces closest to the field. And probably get a dollar or two for those in the high school commons parking lot.

High school administrators tell me that students have been very cooperative in parking either in the commons or ag lots during the school day and the parking problem really hasn’t been much of a disruption.

However, that’s now – when the school district is at just over 1,600 students.

The new classroom construction at the south campus tells me that the SoBoCo district will very soon be 1,800 students (or more) and we will be looking for additional parking space.

And likely another (No! Don’t say it!) roundabout.


Of course, one solution to the problem is to have fewer cars arriving at the school for classes and events.

Gasp! You mean…..carpool!?

Well, yeah. Using our cars more efficiently isn’t exactly a new idea.

Growing up in the headquarters town of a major petroleum company in Oklahoma, I saw my dad climb into a carpool at 7:20 every morning and arrive home at 5:15 that evening. His day to drive was Thursday.

Why would he, a petroleum engineer, do such a crazy thing?

Easy, the company had about 6,000 employees and a parking lot for less than 2,000 cars.

Somehow, my daughter, now living in an eastern metro area is living without a car. She uses either public transportation or could use a ride-sharing app on her phone. The app instantaneously matches people headed in the same direction at the same time. And when getting a ride is cheaper and easier than looking for your car keys, looking for a parking spot and paying for that spot, not bothering with a car makes some sense.

Ride sharing? If that sounds crazy, just remember that 15 years ago no reasonable person would entertain the idea of vacationing in someone else’s apartment or home. Yet in 2015 Airbnb had 60 million users (including myself) in 34,000 cities.

True, the parking problem at SoBoCo has not yet reached epic proportions – although, when I left Monday’s volleyball game, there were cars parked on the school grounds grass – but what happens when we have 2,000 students in the school district?

The easy answer is to build more parking lots. But as I think about the proliferation of parking garages in Columbia, I realize the easy answer isn’t always the smartest answer.