A couple of gas stations near my house have closed in the past few months, victims of the economy and low gas prices.
Even the graffiti writers can't resist rubbing it in:
I say good riddance. You could argue that gas stations contribute to global warming twice--once when people fuel up, and again when people choose not to walk because they don't want to go past an ugly gas station. They're like holes in the city's fabric, ruining the visual definition and symmetry of a street. Not surprisingly, people will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid walking past them. It amazes me that with as much zoning and regulatory control the city exerts over land use, gas stations still end up on pedestrian-friendly streets, next to historic buildings, and so on.
I was hoping to do a post on the "trend" of gas stations closing, but it takes three things to make a trend, and I only know of two. Keep hope alive, though! There are plenty of other gas stations that I have my fingers crossed about.
This one on Lakeshore at the intersection of Lake Park is awful. On a street that's great for retail and where space is precious, this blots up the landscape. I actually think a parking lot would be a step up from this. Although I suppose it's good for business on the other side of the street, since everybody crosses over to get where they're going.
This one on Piedmont Avenue is another winner:
I can't capture the whole street in a picture, but this station sits between the Landmark Piedmont movie theater, L'Amyx teahouse, and a beautiful old church. Pedestrian-friendly streets are still scarce enough in Oakland that they deserve some sort of protection from this kind of blight.
My unscientific analysis indicates that there are just too damn many gas stations in Oakland. Many, even most, of them seem to have a pretty low volume of business--probably because people tend to shop around for the cheapest gas, and you're not going to find it on Lakeshore. Everybody in my neighborhood goes to the Arco station on Park Blvd, not the half-dozen other stations nearby.
I don't know what sort of cleanup or other costs are associated with converting gas stations into storefronts--somebody fill me in on this--but here's hoping that change can happen. After all, the market has spoken.
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