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I'm fortunate right now that we have an off-street parking space at our home and only one car. I went ahead and got the RPP anyway, because it is convenient for intra-zone day trips, errands, eating out, etc, and at $35 a year, it was well worth paying for. A single ticket for over-staying my two hours on the street pays for the permit. Plus, my zone covers everything from Georgetown to the Convention Center, so it's the bulk of places where I socialize, shop, dine, and visit friends.

$35 is too low. I would pay $75 for this. I think most DC residents would pay $75 for it without rioting or burning down the DMV or overthrowing the government. It's a nice, safe, easy, attainable number.

There's a problem, however, with adding an escalating fee for additional cars in the same household. First, not all homes contain a traditional household. People have roommates, some large SFH are used as group homes with five or eight people in them, not all "auxiliary" units are legal rentals, and even in homes with multiple legal, permitted units, they do not always have distinct addresses. Just ask anyone who has ever dealt with Comcast before and their refusal to set up service with more than one account at an address in their database. I once lived in a five unit building and had to get DirecTV because Comcast had already installed internet at one of the other apartments and could not understand that we had five units in one building because we got mail for the building through the mail slot in the front door instead of individual mailboxes.

Plus, what do you do if a former resident doesn't change over their address with the DMV right away? More than once, if I had recently renewed my auto registration before a move but my move was within the same zone, I just left it for the balance of the year (or two years). I know that you're not supposed to do that, but everyone does. So what is the recourse for the new tenant at my old apartment when they go to get an RPP sticker and they are told my car is already plated at that address, so their sticker will be hundreds of dollars more? Track me down and beg me to update my address? Tell the city, who may or may not be able to track me down and make me change it? Just pay the second car rate? And if the fee is substantially higher for a second car, what stops people from trying to register at a friend or neighbor's house who has no car? How many resources should be spent to stop that?

Personally, I think the best way to discourage car ownership is to have what we already have - a system that is set up to make it easier to walk than to drive. In my neighborhood, I often leave the car at home and walk to the grocery, to visit friends, etc because even though I am eligible to park on the street for free, it isn't worth it to have to hunt for a space. If higher fees lead to fewer cars, that means more parking by default, and that means I'm more likely to take the car those times than to walk. It defeats itself.

And scarcity of parking is already working. People like me who drive to work every day will choose to live in a place with off-street parking or in a neighborhood with abundant parking. People who choose to move to Dupont or Adams Morgan or Georgetown or the Hill do so knowing that if always having a space is important, they need to select one of the many housing options that provides one. If it is less important, they can chance it with street parking. If it does not matter to them at all (ie they have no car) then they can live anywhere and pass up the added cost of buying or renting a space (or perhaps buy a space anyway and rent it to neighbors at a profit, which many of my friends did when they bought condos).

Raise the price a little bit. Changing the zones, however, or adding escalating costs for secondary cars, is full of problems. Don't do that.

by ShawGuy on Dec 10, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

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