Every city grapples with parking, and every city winds up tolerating a certain amount of inconvenience. Tourist towns, of which Ashland is one, have a special set of parking issues.
We don't know of a single community that could honestly claim to have the perfect system — plenty of parking for those who want it and a thriving downtown at the same time.
The downtown parking plan adopted by the City Council focuses on an expanded parking enforcement zone aimed at increasing revenue from parking tickets, along with an assortment of other steps, including sharing parking lots with businesses after hours, improved signs and looking for ways to get employees to park away from prime downtown spots.
Advocates of more elaborate plans, such as electric shuttles, park-and-ride lots and expanded bike lanes were disappointed, but the city has limited resources, and embarking on expensive solutions it can't afford wouldn't be wise.
In one sense, parking problems are a good sign, because they indicate a thriving business district and a successful tourism industry.
The more costly ventures, such as purchasing shuttle buses and developing park-and-ride lots, could come later, especially if the expanded enforcement zone generates additional revenue. For now, taking it slow and focusing on what can be accomplished for the least cost makes the most sense, as some councilors argued.
Eventually, the vision of Ashland's environmental activists likely will be realized as people drive less and walk more. It's just not likely to happen as soon as they would like.