use Amazon? – support this!

This afternoon I was walking along P Street, not riding my bicycle, when I saw this Amazon delivery van parked in the separated bikeway (cycletrack) just past 13th Street.

When I asked the driver why he was in the bike lane, he said there was nowhere else to park. But in fact there is a cross-hatched, implied no-parking, area just behind the photo on 14th Street, not more than 30 feet from where the van is parked. I can’t show you an aerial of this because the parking has been reconfigured since the last historical Google Earth imagery without leaves on trees, but tomorrow I’ll take a ground photo and add it here. There were also several empty parking spots on 13th Street both north and south of P Street, but apparently this was too far for the driver to walk.

Once making several deliveries, the driver finally left, traveling down the separated bikeway all the way to 13th Street. I reported the parking violation to the city’s 311 app, but of course the van was gone before they could respond. However, I think it is important for everyone to report these violations, otherwise the city can claim it was not aware of the situation.

This is the Amazon attitude, that our deliveries are more important than public safety, and if we actually get caught, the ticket is a small price for our way of doing business, which is raking in the big bucks. So, please think about this photo the next time your order from Amazon. I am not saying Amazon is the only guilty party, other delivery services do similar things, though Amazon seems to be the most brazen. And it is partly the city’s fault. When they repaved and restriped P Street to create the separated bikeway, they could have created delivery spots on both the 15th-14th block and the 14th-13th block, but they did not.

2021-03-12: Adding photo better showing context for the illegal Amazon parking. On the right is the separated bikeway that was being blocked by the Amazon driver. On the left is the crosshatched area that sets off diagonal parking on 14th Street. This morning it was being used by an exempt vehicle, perhaps CADA, but when the Amazon van was there, this was empty and available for delivery.


Within hours of Amazon announcing a competition to create a second headquarters, HQ2, mayors and governors all over the country were saying “Me, me, choose me.” Including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. This is a mistake!

I don’t have anything against Amazon, they are a company with a business model that has been remarkably sucessful. I shop there, at least when I can’t easily find an item locally. Their prices are often remarkable. Yes, and I also feel hesitant or guilty each time. But this isn’t about Amazon.

I’m also not against jobs. And I’m also not against development, though I certainly prefer small-scale development to large-scale development. A headquarters with 50,000 employees is something that would overwhelm all but the very largest cities. Sacramento is not among those cities. 

What this is about is about a city (and regional and state) economic model that says we can’t get anything good unless we soak the taxpayers for a subsidy. In this case, Amazon is asking for a huge subsidy from whatever locale “wins” the competition. 

On the positive, Amazon includes the requirement: “Direct access to rail, train, subway/metro, bus routes”. But they also seem quite willing to be in the suburbs, on a greenfield site, only asking within 30 miles of the city center. In the case of Sacramento, that includes Davis, El Dorado Hills, Roseville. Ack!

The RFP then gets to the heart of the matter, money!

Capital and Operating Costs – A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure will be high-priority considerations for the Project. Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process. 

Incentives – Identify incentive programs available for the Project at the state/province and local levels. Outline the type of incentive (i.e. land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, permitting, and fee reductions) and the amount. The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers.

In other words, we will consider you if you come up with a bigger bribe than anyone else. I doubt that Sacramento can compete in this arena, but more to the point, no one should be in this competition. Amazon is a very successful company. They don’t need our subsidy to be successful.

So, back to the title #JustSayNoToAmazon. I’m not suggesting that Sacramento decline on its own. I’m suggesting that big city mayors show some true leadership, meet with each other, and, as a unified whole, decline the Amazon offer. This is a chance for Mayor Steinberg to show some real leadership and not just be a booster for failed economic models. 

Articles and posts on the Amazon plan are proliferating, but let me suggest two: