They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

It’s too bad flowers don’t pay taxes

Shefali O'Hara
3 min readJun 27, 2022


This is what they got rid of to put up a parking lot — picture by Shefali O’Hara

In 1970, Joni Mitchell released her song “Big Yellow Taxi”. It included the line, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

I’ve been thinking of that song a lot lately. You see, my community is a victim of progress. People keep moving here and developers keep developing it. Thus ruining the charms that used to make it attractive. At least for those of us who prefer wildflowers and birdsong to asphalt and car horns.

The photograph above?

The field behind my house in 2020. Every spring the bluebonnets bloomed for several weeks. Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower. People came from miles around to take photographs.

The community enjoyed the field in all seasons. Children and dogs chased frisbees and balls. Families went on picnics. People jogged or walked the paths for exercise and relaxation.

It was a lovely area enjoyed by everyone.

At night, when the bluebonnets were blooming, I’d open my bedroom window and smell the light, sweet fragrance. It was a lovely way to fall asleep.

But bluebonnets don’t pay taxes.

Neither do sunflowers, winecups, coreopsis, Indian paintbrush — some of the other wildflowers we’d enjoy during our walks through those fields. Flowers that Lady Bird Johnson had the state plant along the highways.

But the wildflowers in the field behind my house were free. There were trees, too, that provided shade. And benches along the paths for people to use.

All of which are gone now. We got a shopping mall instead, complete with an asphalt parking lot. Instead of the light fragrance of wildflowers, there was the smell of tar.

City planners care about their tax revenues, and bluebonnets don’t pay taxes.

“Progress” is more important to bean counters than the environment or the health and happiness of people who have to live with the results.

Before the field was destroyed, I’d have to drive all of a minute to get to a large shopping center. Two minutes got me to two more. Now I can drive 30 seconds to get to one. Has saving 30 seconds to get…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.