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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Phoenix Arizona Mormon Temple Parking

I've written about the Phoenix Arizona Temple before but I specifically want to address traffic and parking controversies which seem to be escalating in the debate.

See former posts:

The Church has done extensive parking and traffic studies and the Temple must comply with city ordinances concerning the parking it provides. Calmly and logically, I want to point out a few things about numbers.

How much traffic the Temple will produce and how many parking spaces are needed is something only the Church can determine with any accuracy. Certain facts, known only to the Church and controlled by the Church are crucial.

For example:

1. The Church carefully controls numbers. Mormons are assigned to a congregation based on geography. Each congregation is assigned to a larger unit called a stake and a certain number of stakes make up a temple district. If Church growth increases these boundary lines for each of these groupings change. The Church can and will control temple traffic and parking so that it won't exceed what the area is capable of handling.

2. The Temple will Have Limited, Knowable Attendance. Only Mormons that meet certain restrictions are allowed to enter Temples. The Church knows exactly who they are and how many of them there are. Mormons have to show their special passes, so to speak, in order to enter. Based on other temple traffic and meticulous statistics the Church can accurately say how "busy" the temple will be.

3. The Church Must Comply With Parking Ordinance Requirements but they probably exceed the parking needs of the actual Temple needs. As the special Phoenix Temple web site points out:

The temple’s purpose is to accommodate small groups throughout the day rather than large congregations at one time, and so traffic flow is well within the capacity of local roads to handle. Ample parking is available on site.
Local ordinances are based on typical religious worship -- worshipers attending a particular event at the same time for example. Temples don't operate this way. So, really, local ordinances are ill suited to apply to them.


Obviously, localities cannot write separate ordinances for Mormon temples just because they are different. But, because of the very different nature of temple traffic and parking the local ordinances probably require much more parking than is actually needed. The web site suggests this:

The amount of parking proposed is in excess of the parking required by the City code. An option, which we hope to avoid, would be an above-ground parking structure. By experience we know that temple neighbors have preferred to see meticulously cared-for landscaping rather than extra parking which would stand vacant.
Surely Phoenix citizens would prefer fewer parking spaces if they aren't needed.

4. Counting rooms in the Temple design and extrapolating traffic and parking numbers isn't accurate. In a Arizona news article:
Neighborhood organizer Scott Anderson said the numbers don't add up. Anderson said he counted 133 rooms in the temple rendering and the city calculated parking using only 25 rooms.
Citizen concern over these issues is understandable but 133 rooms means basically nothing.

In the article the Church emphasized that much of the lower floor would be used for storage. If temples were busy with people they wouldn't be the quiet, contemplative places they are intended to be. Most of those rooms will rarely be in use at the same time but they are needed when they are needed.

For example, sealing rooms where weddings take place need to accommodate the size of the wedding party. Temple weddings are always small. Small rooms accommodate about a half dozen. A large sealing room would accommodate maybe 50 people. (I'm guessing based on what I have seen throughout the nation at temples I've visited.) Most of those 50 people would be family and arrive together in a handful of vehicles. Mormon weddings generally occur in the mornings.

Ordinance rooms that hold 70 people may be full on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m. but most of the time they are nearly empty. Maximum rooms and maximum occupancy is a poor criteria to evaluate temple traffic and parking needs. On its web site the Church shows a graph estimating temple traffic and what the neighborhood can handle. If the Church didn't estimate these things correctly then its ability to build future temples would be hampered.

When I go to the temple I generally stay there three hours. Yes, it takes that long, whether the temple is large like Washington D. C. or small like Phoenix will be.

The news article says:
The church's attorney, Paul Gilbert, emphasized that the site plans show 394 is more than ample parking for the temple. . . " 
Franky, I'm aghast. I cannot imagine a small temple needing that many parking spaces, even an urban one.

I don't want to minimize citizen concerns. But, only the Church is in a position to accurately measure or extrapolate numbers. And these citizen concerns are not new. They seem to accompany every temple build, but none of the concerns ever proves to be justified. In fact, it is generally the opposite.

On its web site for frequently asked questions, the Church answers all the concerns and provides video of Non-Mormons who live by other temples answering these concerns.

So, do your research. The information is freely available. Or, don't the temple opponents want actual facts?

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine traffic would ever become a problem...parking maybe though :P
    Maybe they should ration it on Saturday's?

    ReplyDelete