Dave Reid

Forty Eight More Parking Spots for a Pub?

By - Sep 30th, 2009 12:34 pm
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email

Mo’s Irish Pub in Wauwatosa, WI intends to demolish two homes to create 48 new parking spots for their patrons.  With the expanded parking lot Mo’s Irish Pub will have 179 parking spots, and although they do serve food it is likely that many of these spots are for pub patrons.  Yup.  One hundred seventy nine parking spots for a pub.  Some residents believe this will make their streets safer, others fear the loss of their neighborhood, the business argues it will keep patrons out of the neighborhood, but most certainly the intent is for this to fuel new growth, to insure more people can drive to the pub.

The pub’s location is certainly very car-oriented, being located on a major suburban arterial, so much so that it almost requires one to drive to it, with the exception of the few homes it borders.  By removing these homes, it reduces the number of patrons that might ever walk to the pub, albeit by just a couple, and increases the likelihood someone will drive to the pub.  It is of course not to say that bars or pubs in walkable neighborhoods don’t have drunk drivers, I’ve seen too many cars going the wrong way down Wells St. at bar time to believe otherwise, but adding 48 new parking spots to a pub isn’t helping the problem.

Mo’s Irish Pub is just a symptom, just one example, and not the root of problem.  Our car culture is to blame.  When cities have zoning that makes it acceptable for an tavern to have 100s of parking spots and actively encourages them to be located outside of walkable areas, when patrons complain of a lack of parking to get to happy hour, when it is acceptable to drive to the tavern what do we expect?

Again legislators are looking at toughening drunk driving laws which they certainly should, but it is time to look at land use patterns, and the anti-transit / pro-automobile bias as part of this problem.  The equation isn’t this simple, but at the same time isn’t all that more complicated than: “car culture + car-oriented location + drinking = drunk driving.”

Categories: Car Culture

25 thoughts on “Forty Eight More Parking Spots for a Pub?”

  1. Todd says:

    It’s always boggled my mind when I see bars with parking lots. Couldn’t cops just sit outsied that lot every night at closing time and pull over every car coming out of that lot to issue DUIs. Yes, some have designated drivers, but I’d say that the far majority don’t.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Todd yes I’ve wondered the very same thing..

  3. Mike Poe says:

    A cop CAN sit outside of a bar and wait for people to leave, however they CANNOT pull someone over because they think you are drunk. Basically they have to follow you and wait for you to break the law (swerve, cross the line, expired plate).

    Its not entrapment unless the police are coercing or influencing you to break the law.

    Police do it all the time in small towns near bars at closing time.

  4. Once bars are smoke-free, I’d consider going to them more often, and (gasp!) I’d even drive to one… Luckily my “drink budget” does not allow me to become intoxicated (and I really don’t do that anyway) so I would not require mass transit (or a bike, or a bike on a bus, or a train) to get back home…

  5. Doug G. says:

    everything about this is a joke. I’ve been to Mo’s downtown—-whats so great about it? The food isn’t anything overly special and the beer list isn’t anything unique to other bars (Guinness, Harp, etc.).

    The level that people will buy into the hype about things in this city amuse me sometimes.

  6. MilwaukeeD says:

    Just another example in the journal sentinel today or suburban/exurban drunken driving causing deaths: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/62884782.html

    There have been several of those this year. The only recent drinking related death near downtown I can think of was that motorcyclist killed at Humboldt/North last year by an older woman who was drunk in the middle of the day. She hadn’t been drinking at a bar, but at home. Not much you can do about that. But, considering the number of bars downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods, there are surprisingly few deaths related to drunk driving when compared to the suburbs/exurbs.

    In fact, there are few traffic related deaths at all in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods when you think about all of the people coming and going to downtown every day. I wonder why that is…..

  7. Jeff Jordan says:

    Sadly, your statement of the obvious may not resonate with the majority of our car-culture, drinking population. It is, it seems, a birth right to drink and drive in this society. Cars are the reason we have sprawl around our cities. Cars cost and average family over $5,00.00 per year in extra expense. Many of not most auto accidents are alcohol related. Many people who are involved in these accidents do not have alcohol problems. They merely have had one to many, as the saying goes, on their traditional or occasional visit to a bar. Asking bar tenders to quit serving a person who has obviously is ‘over served” is like trying to plug the leak in the dam. It’s probably already to late, because to allow that person to leave the bar is to put them in their car in an intoxicated condition.
    We need cultural gut check. We are not going to and need not quit drinking. Most people are usually responsible. However we have to be held responsible for our actions and the results of our actions if we do drink. A mamouth parking lot outside a bar is just a subtle method of approval for drinking and driving.

  8. Scott says:

    This article is silly. I don’t understand all this grousing about a parking lot at a bar in the *suburbs*. What exactly is the alternative is here? We aren’t even talking about the city where mass transit is an actual, plausible option.

    1. Mass transit: This hasn’t worked anywhere in the US except for the megatropolis areas like NY, LA, and Chicago. How about we try to get this working in the city of Milwaukee before worry about the suburbs, where the population per mile is extremely low in comparison.
    2. Ride a bike: Are you kidding? Again, we’re not talking about the big city. In the suburbs that would take an hour to bike one way, not to mention the difficulties of having to ride on roads not designed to accommodate bikes. Don’t say visit the local bar, because your friends aren’t going to live next door to you. You go to the bar with friends, so SOMEONE is going to have a hell of a long bike ride. And this is Wisconsin where we have bitterly cold, ice and snow filled winters.
    3. Prohibition: Ha.
    4. Designated drivers: This is the most obvious solution, but guess what? It STILL REQUIRES PARKING LOTS.

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Scott We ask people not to drive drunk but we build bars with 179 parking spots, I’d call that silly (actually sad).

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff Yup, people wonder why we have drunk drivers, but then locate bars where you have to drive to access them… hmmmm… I like to drink, but never ever worry about driving drunk, cause I walk home, ride the bus, or catch a cab.

  11. Juli Kaufmann says:

    If they do go ahead with the plan, does anyone know how I can get in touch with Mo’s to suggest they deconstruct those perfectly fine houses rather than demolish them? We can salvage probably 90% of those homes. Hey, I am serious. Just trying to make some lemonade if this goes ahead. Lemme know anyone…..

  12. Matt says:

    1. Its a restaurant
    2. It is a business, and quite popular
    3. Sometimes the other guy drives
    4. Sometimes people don’t get drunk when they go to a bar
    5. Your bashing of a business for wanting parking, based on its name, is idiotic. I presume you are aware that many restaurants serve alcohol, many have bars, and a lot of them have parking lots. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

    In your one note paranoia, do you have any evidence whatsoever, any at all before you start shrieking to the sky like the Chicken Little you are, that this establishment has caused problems.

    If not, shut up.

    What do you want, more bike racks?

  13. Dave Reid says:

    @Matt I’m pretty sure I said Mo’s (yes the pub) is just a symptom not the problem.

    1,2,3 yup (note how #3 is sometimes)

    5 It’s not on its name, I’ve been to the original and it is very much a bar (also note the reasons they want more parking from some articles – to stop the public urination problem – or comments on the js blog/facebook – we can’t find a parking spot at happy hour). Or for example, check out their facebook status:

    “Mo’s Irish Pub Wauwatosa Captain Morgan cocktails for $3 all day today- ladies night at 9pm with great deals for the ladies!!” hmmm…

    I go to plenty of bars, fairly often… but oddly never do I need a parking spot.

    Again the point isn’t that Mo’s is the problem, they are simply operating in the environment that we as society says is ok. Build a bar in a place that you basically have to drive to (little to no other options), and then wonder why people drive drunk.

  14. Doug G. says:

    I have no problem with parking lots or cars, but tearing down two houses for this little bar? Take an aerial tour of the area on Bing Maps—-Mo’s is going to rival parking lots on the County Grounds/Research Park and the local hospital to the south.

  15. “When cities have zoning that makes it acceptable for an tavern to have 100s of parking spots and actively encourages them to be located outside of walkable areas, when patrons complain of a lack of parking to get to happy hour, when it is acceptable to drive to the tavern what do we expect?”

    I’m sorry, but the suburbs aren’t made of high-rise condos and streetcars. “Walkable areas” don’t exist! And what exactly would you change about zoning? Should we move all the bar/restaurants into the neighborhoods, right next to all the schools?

  16. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan As a small start, yes I would eliminate (or modify) single use zoning in the suburbs as it encourages (if not makes certain) people to drive, drunk or sober.

  17. Steve Schrab says:

    If city zoning would prohibit large parking lots for taverns, they might encourage more smaller neighborhood bars. More bars would mean greater access without the need to drive. I don’t live in the suburbs, but that doesn’t sound bad to me.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t denounce drunken driving, but support driving to and from a tavern. If people took drunk driving laws seriously, there would hardly be any cars in that parking lot. While we need tougher laws, we also need to encourage people to not use their car at all when your intent on a night of drinking. Bars on mass transit routes (urban) or smaller neighborhood bars with little or no parking (suburban) would be great steps to that.

    Wisconsin and (especially) Milwaukee loves to drink. I’m OK with that, heck, I take a weird sense of pride in it. Let’s just make sure we’re doing everything to make sure that it’s being done responsibly.

  18. Dave Reid says:

    @Steve Schrab Exactly

  19. I’m pretty sure the whole reason people live in the suburbs is so they DON’T have to live near bars and restaurants and other smelly, loud establishments…

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan The choice, or possibly lack of choice, that people make to live in the burbs might include the single-use ideal, but then they must accept the consequences, one of which is bars with 179 parking spots and the very strong possibility of drunk drivers.

  21. Doug G. says:

    The whole reason why people live in the suburbs is better schools, lower crime (or perception of), and lower property taxes. Suburbanites want the urban experience—just look at the popularity of Bayshore.

  22. @Doug They might want an urban experience, but they clearly don’t want to live near it. Bayshore has five (six?) places that serve alcohol, and three or four THOUSAND parking spaces. It’s completely insulated from the dense residential areas by large but attractive cream brick parking garages that block all the noise, and the rest of Whitefish Bay’s commerce, where all the bars close at 9 or 10. It’s no more of an “urban experience” than Universal Studios is a Hollywood experience.

  23. Jesse Hagen says:

    Yeah, it’s not like they have any residential space a Bayshore… wait a sec.

  24. Oh, you’re right, 100 people in an apartment complex definitely makes it an ‘urban zone’. How silly of me.

  25. Jesse Hagen says:

    Urbanity isn’t something that is or isn’t, it’s a subjective term.

    Compare Bayshore to Downtown and then compare Bayshore to Saukville.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *