Greater Greater Washington

Parking


Ward 4 wouldn't suffer from graduated RPP

Muriel Bowser got quite angry at Tommy Wells yesterday over the proposal to make residential parking permit (RPP) fees higher for a household's 2nd and 3rd cars and beyond. She claimed Ward 4 would pay a disproportionate amount, but has not gotten its share of transit expansion. However, the numbers don't bear out her claims.


Photo by slack13 on Flickr.

Under Wells' proposal, approved by the entire Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Ward 4 comes out in the bottom half of wards in terms of how much they'd pay, as would Ward 5, whose councilmember, Harry Thomas, Jr. also called the $25-100 per year charges "exorbitant."

But the real winners in this proposal are wards 7 and 8. Wells is proposing a revenue measure hugely favorable to residents east of the Anacostia, at a time when Circulator service in his ward is being cut and service added to Ward 8.


Numbers of RPP-registered cars, by ward.

Here are the numbers of households in each ward with various numbers of cars:

AllW1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8
1 car64,35212,04612,75213,8255,0134,83013,4412,011770
2 cars21,8583,2403,0685,3212,5471,9034,677687355
3 cars5,9568496811,3899495761,15522294
4 cars1,7912661863693192033345743
5 cars54680561001177686159
6 cars15432112540201953
7 cars641257179742
8 cars2334445400
9 cars1424220201
10+ cars1712811310
All cars
Households
w/1+ car
94,77516,53116,76921,0509,0097,62319,7283,0021,277
Total cars137,68222,86522,14430,93915,23411,78928,2694,4222,020

Ward 4 only has 9.5% 11% of the RPP-registered cars in the city, compared to 22% 22.5% for Ward 3 and 21% 20.5% for Ward 6.

Ward 4 does have more households with 4 cars, and has the most with 5 cars (117), 6 cars (40) and 7 cars (17). So perhaps these 181 mega-car owners are the people Bowser is defending. But she has far fewer people with 3 than wards 3 and 6, and fewer with 2 than 1, 2, 3, and 6.

How does this change when we throw in the graduated revenue? The committee's proposal would charge $35 for the first car, $50 for the second, and $100 for the third and beyond. Seniors would only pay $25 per car, with no graduated rates at all. I don't have data on how many of the car owners are seniors in each ward, though citywide it's in the single digit percentages. This chart ignores the senior exemption and calculates the cost per ward for the existing RPP stickers:


Estimated revenue from graduated system, by ward, not accounting for senior exemption.

AllW1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8
1 car$643,520$120,460$127,520$138,250$50,130$48,300$134,410$20,110$7,700
2 cars$546,450$81,000$76,700$133,025$63,675$47,575$116,925$17,175$8,875
3 cars$595,600$84,900$68,100$138,900$94,900$57,600$115,500$22,200$9,400
4 cars$313,425$46,550$32,550$64,575$55,825$35,525$58,450$9,975$7,525
5 cars$136,500$20,000$14,000$25,000$29,250$19,000$21,500$3,750$2,250
6 cars$50,050$10,400$3,575$8,125$13,000$6,500$6,175$1,625$975
7 cars$25,600$4,800$2,000$2,800$6,800$3,600$2,800$1,600$800
8 cars$10,925$1,425$1,900$1,900$1,900$2,375$1,900$0$0
9 cars$7,700$1,100$2,200$1,100$1,100$0$1,100$0$550
10+ cars$10,625$625$1,250$5,000$625$625$1,875$625$0

Ward 4 is still only the ward that would pay the fifth most under this system, though it's closer to fourth-place Ward 2 than on the basis of total numbers of cars. However, most of this revenue jump is from the very small number of people with a lot of cars.

Those people may well not end up paying so much at all. Many people don't actually park on the street, but have off-street parking, especially in lower density areas like much of Ward 4. Many people with a lot of cars quite likely store most of them off the street.

If this goes into effect, some people who don't park on-street but have a lot of cars, and find it burdensome to pay $75 extra per car per year after the first two, could stop getting RPP stickers for most of the cars. That would cut down on revenue, but also would mean fewer permits potentially vying for on-street space.

Correction: The first bar chart initially only showed the numbers of households with each number of cars, not the numbers of cars total. I've corrected it; none of the conclusions change. Ward 4's share of total cars is 11% rather than 9.5%.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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9-10+ cars per household? Um. What now?

by oboe on May 17, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Facts. Numbers. Nice.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on May 17, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

The interesting thing about this escalating scale of fees is that residents in some wards are now getting FREE visitor parking passes. What's to stop these residents from using these parking passes for themselves instead of paying for the $75 passes?

I really think the attempt to micromanage peoples' actions is not a good idea. Setting a policy is one thing, trying to manage by coming up with something like a sliding scale for something that can't be accurately measured is another. Will rooms in a group house count as 'households'? ... or will the entire house be viewed as one 'household' and charged accordingly. And what about children or grandparents moving in with their kin to live more economically ... do they get penalized too? So will only wards 1 and 6 continue to have these guest passes that can be used to substitute for stepped up regular stickers? Rarely is trying to micromanage a policy a good idea.

by Lance on May 17, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

Excellent post and nice graphs. The "estimated revenue" graph doesn't take into account the behavioral response, which would involve (at least theoretically probably in real life) reductions in either car ownership or, more likely, in car registration/on-street parking.

The >3 cars entries beg the question of what counts as a household here.

by Ward 1 Guy on May 17, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

Wow. Only 4200 cars E-O-T-R. For a population of, what, about 75,000?

by charlie on May 17, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

Lance: Your concern with the visitor parking passes is noted, but those of us who live in those wards and have received them also received warnings that they are not substitutes for RPP. If you were to display one on a DC car over and over again, the parking police would take note (in the way they do ROSA enforcement), and eventually you would get busted. I think even you can agree that our parking enforcement officers in this city are pretty tenacious.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on May 17, 2011 2:42 pm • linkreport

Are there many residential streets in DC that are not part of the RPP program? The difference in registered RPP cars could be a function of greater need for resident restricted parking in different wards as opposed to a function of different car ownership.

by Michael Perkins on May 17, 2011 2:43 pm • linkreport

@charlie

Those are only the cars that are registered for RPP. If you don't live on an RPP block you can't register for it. I believe there are way fewer RPP blocks in Wards 7 & 8 than in the other wards.

by MLD on May 17, 2011 2:43 pm • linkreport

Michael: Once outside of the dense core of the city, there are a many more non-RPP streets than there are in the center. In fact, this sounds like an idea for a map. (Matt Johnson, are you listening?)

In my neighborhood (Trinidad) for instance, even though we are a dense neighborhood, there are very few blocks with RPP. My block has it because of a citizen-led initiative a few years back so police would have a reason to steer cars off the street that were parked there only to engage in drug-dealing.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on May 17, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins

DC has a GIS dataset with the RPP blocks:
http://dcatlas.dcgis.dc.gov/metadata/RPPBlocks.html

Map:
http://goo.gl/xH2XN

by MLD on May 17, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

@Charlie -- EotR has TWO wards, so the total population is about 150,000.

@DA In your 1st chart I get 2020 cars in W8; in your "all cars" sum row you forgot to multiply the values by the number of cars.

And yes I think the number cars EotR is low by a factor of 10, at least. Should be around 1.3 vehicles per household.

by goldfish on May 17, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

I'm with the others who would like know how a household is defined and how this relates to group houses.

by DC Driver on May 17, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

The use of absolute numbers is slightly misleading. When looking at percentages, Bowser has a point. A significantly greater percentage of households in her ward have 3+ cars than any other ward. The only thing missing from the table is the number of households with zero cars.
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
1 car 72.9 76.0 65.7 55.6 63.4 68.1 67.0 60.3
2 cars 19.6 18.3 25.3 28.3 25.0 23.7 22.9 27.8
3+ cars 7.5 5.7 9.0 16.1 11.7 8.2 10.1 11.9

by Herbie on May 17, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

A family on my block with great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents, and has three cars. Obviously they are crowded together because they don't have a lot of money. This proposal unfairly penalizes such families.

Likewise if you can't figure out what a "household" is, then the price should be per vehicle.

by goldfish on May 17, 2011 3:06 pm • linkreport

oh wait. So this has nothing to do with actual car ownership -- and everything to do with RPP -- now I am so confused!

are you saying vast chunks of Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8 -- or 300,000 people -- live in parts of DC that are essentially suburban? Where you don't spend hours fighting over each and every street space, and hipsters digging their Priui out of the snow isn't a Washington Post story? What sort of city do you live in?

by charlie on May 17, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

@MP

Exactly what I was thinking. If you have a driveway or garage, you don't need a Residential Parking Permit. This isn't a survey of the number of cars, just the number of cars that on-street parking.

by Adam L on May 17, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

@goldfish -- as the proposal notes, the cars registered to senior citizens (which I would imagine the grandparents, and definitely the great-grandparents falling under) are $25, with no graduated rates, so on, that wouldn't unfairly penalize them. It would rather give them a discount.

As to group houses, I think it's an interesting question, but since many of the homeowners around universities and other neighborhoods see group houses as being one of the chief villains in crowded parking, I'd be curious to see how those groups assess this prospective plan.

by Jacques on May 17, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

Is it possible to add a data layer re number of households in non-RPP areas and number of households with no cars per ward? It seems to me that if the councilmembers purport to be focused on their constituents' interests, they should take into account the benefits of the increased revenues for the constituents living in households that are not paying the RPP fees and the increased parking opportunities for the constituents who live in non-RPP areas but occasionally travel to RPP areas (assuming that some people in the RPP areas will get rid of some cars if they have to pay $100/year to park). These benefits may be speculative, but I think that they are relevant. Do you have that data?

by Todd on May 17, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

I live in Ward 4, and I love this idea. Yes, I'm sure cleverer people than I will figure out how to get around this. I was dismayed a while back when an ANC guy averred that all car owners should expect to be able to park their cars on the block on which they live. This ignores the math of multiple cars per household taking up the "free" and unassigned spaces. Add a good snow storm into the mix when everyone claims the permanant right to space they shoveled out once. Thanks, Tommy Wells, for initiating this discussion about this public covenant.

by Lisa on May 17, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

The way to deal with income issues isn't to not do the program, it's to provide a break for the people for which income is an issue (although, if you can afford a car, you can afford $50 for a parking permit, pretty much regardless of income). If the prices were quadrupled, I could see providing an income discount. Similarly, the same should go for seniors. A parking permit discount should be means tested, but again, not until the prices are much higher.

Thanks for providing the data and to MLD for pointing out that the number of RPP blocks varies by Ward, which impacts what this data communicates.

PLUS, there is that tricky problem with Eastern, Western, and Southern Avenues. I don't think you can park on Western Ave., but plenty of Marylanders park on "their" side of Eastern Ave. I wish we could charge them for it. It wouldn't be a lot of money, but they still should pay.

by Richard Layman on May 17, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

Sweet Zombie Jesus, how do people in my ward find room for 10+ cars?? I'm guessing there's definitely an issue of what defines a "household".

by Bossi on May 17, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

I can't imagine that 10+ cars are Jay Lenos of DC--it has to be either "group" houses, multi-unit dwellings grouped together, or some sort of shady auto dealer.

by ah on May 17, 2011 3:23 pm • linkreport

@Jacques -- How is DC going to track this? Vehicle B for example is owned by son-in-law (age 32) at 1234 99th street. Vehicle A is owned by great-grandfather (age 82) at the same address. How much does DC charge son-in-law for his RPP? Up the street Mr Jones rents out 2 rooms to interns; all own cars. Is the 3rd car going to pay $100 for the RPP? Okay so lets say the Mr Jones signs an affidavit stating that his roomies are not a part of his "household." But then more interestingly, say Mr Jones takes up conjugal relations with one of his roomies, and stops charging that person rent. Do these two now constitute a "household"? And how does DC determine this?

This is impossible and stupid. The easy, fair, and equitable answer is just charge the RPP per vehicle.

by goldfish on May 17, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

I heard that some people don't bother to update their addresses when the move within the same ward, so there are some issues with data quality there. Also there are issues where all vehicles registered in a multi-unit building might be registered at the address of the building, rather than the address of the unit (i.e., including the apartment number, if any).

I would assume that residents who find themselves looking at a bill from DDOT stating that they have 10 cars registered at their address will have an incentive to provide DDOT with more accurate information to make their records match reality. I would hope that DDOT would make it a priority during the implementation phase to adjust the records as necessary when requested by the resident.

by Michael Perkins on May 17, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

Also- more on the issue at hand:

I live in Ward 2 and support higher RPP rates in general... even 1 car is cheap.

Because data is fun:

According to my financial spreadsheets, the operating costs for my car break down to 45% insurance, 31% fuel, 18% maintenance, and 4% parking.

For comparison: when I lived in Laurel parking represented 21% of my car expenses; and at Penn State it was 14% of my car expenses.

by Bossi on May 17, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

Wait a minute. There'a only 94k cars in DC? That's one car per six Washingtonians. Let me repeat that: 84% of Washingtonians does not own a car. Considering that some people own more than one car, we have more than 5 out of 6 Washingtonians do not own a car.

I am sure that some will go off now saying that it's unfair to not be counting in house holds or something, but I gotta ask why? Are children and elderly not also supposed to be represented? And how about the poor? Transit is open to all. To get access to a car, you need to know that one person out of six...

by Jasper on May 17, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

I went to find the source of this data and the charts are incorrect. The author has not added the total number of cars owned in a household (merely adding the total number of households regardless of the # of cars). These charts imply there are only 94,775 RPP cars in the city. There are actually 137,761. Not sure what this will do to any end conclusions.

Source material:
http://dccouncil.us/media/fy12budgetresponses/publicworksandtransp/April%2015/fy12budget_dmv_Revised_RPP_Counts_by_Household.pdf

by DC Driver on May 17, 2011 3:49 pm • linkreport

@Goldfish: It's not impossible. It's just not perfectly fair according to your model of fair.

First example, there are two vehicles registered to one residence address, which I assume has shared living spaces including only one kitchen. One residence shared by people that are related = a "household" in my book. If one of those two people don't live at that address, perhaps they live at a different address that they would rather register their car at in order to get a better rate?

Mr. Jones has a single residence with rooms that he rents to unrelated people. It's still three cars registered to one residence, so it's three cars. I would assume that Mr. Jones can work out with his tenants who gets the discounted first permit and who gets the more expensive second and third permits.

However, a building set up where residents have individual lockable entrances with separate kitchens and bathrooms (such as an apartment building) would likely be considered separate residences for purposes of RPP.

These are details that get written into the regulation to be implemented by staff. Council can write the overall policy, which is that a "household" gets charged escalating fees on additional vehicles, and staff can write regulations that help clarify what is considered a "household".

In any case, Arlington manages to have this policy in place and I haven't noticed any breakdown in society (yet?).

by Michael Perkins on May 17, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins-

Maybe that's what causes May 21st.

by Bossi on May 17, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

Alexandria has this for years. The current fee for the residential parking permit is $30 for the first vehicle, $40 for the second vehicle, and $100 for each additional vehicle.

This idea isn't that revolutionary.

by Bob on May 17, 2011 3:59 pm • linkreport

DC Driver: You're correct. The first bar chart was generated off the number of household data but should have been generated off the number of car data.

I've corrected it; the conclusion is unchanged and Ward 4 remains a distant 5th in number of cars. Its share is 11% rather than 9.5% as originally listed.

Thanks for providing that sanity check and pointing out the mistake.

by David Alpert on May 17, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

Cats and dogs, living together.

by Michael Perkins on May 17, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perins -- It is unworkable because it gets DC DOT involved with what a "household" is.

It is unfair because the policy does not account for the number of people in a household. It treats a packrat living alone with four vehicles the same as a 7 person multi-generational family with four vehicles.

It is wrong because it does account for the needs of the people in the house. The 7 person multi-generational family clearly has far greater needs for auto transportation than the packrat.

Don't know about Arlington -- are RPP optional there? And IIRC there are lots of driveways, so I wonder how many residents really need RPP.

by goldfish on May 17, 2011 4:11 pm • linkreport

I hope Tommy Wells is running for a city wide office next time, because he's not taking care of his home base very well. A home base that I might add, that voted heavily for Mara.

I disagree that $25-$100 is somehow some horrible burden of a tax, but then it's not going to generate much revenue either. It would be better to just cut government expenditures.

Rooming houses are going to get hit the hardest.

by ahk on May 17, 2011 4:21 pm • linkreport

David, where did you get this info? It's great.

by TM on May 17, 2011 4:26 pm • linkreport

@goldfish -- doing it by "household" would be difficult, but doing it by "housing unit," which is (I believe) a legally defined DC designation, would not be difficult at all.

I know that in my home, one of two units in a converted rowhouse, we have a DCRA permit in the front entrance, declaring two units, and our car registration, etc., are assigned to our unit. If someone is renting out rooms in their own residence (not a separate basement apartment), then additional RPP stickers would be charged at the graduated rate.

While the politics may be tricky. It's not impossible from an administrative/enforcement level (though as Michael Perkins mentioned, people who moved within zones and didn't change their car registration add a wrinkle).

by Jacques on May 17, 2011 4:39 pm • linkreport

(I drafted my above comment earlier, but after hitting send, just realized Michael Perkins has tackled the issues much more comprehensively than I did).

by Jacques on May 17, 2011 4:41 pm • linkreport

I hope Tommy Wells is running for a city wide office next time, because he's not taking care of his home base very well. A home base that I might add, that voted heavily for Mara.

Taking care of your home base goes far beyond ensuring that they have rock-bottom taxes.

I for one would look forward to anything that encourages my neighbor to get his 3 junkers off of the street, or prevents our streets from filling up with commuters each morning.

by andrew on May 17, 2011 4:52 pm • linkreport

Sweet Zombie Jesus, how do people in my ward find room for 10+ cars?? I'm guessing there's definitely an issue of what defines a "household".

It gets worse - that one household in ward 5 has 19 cars. And those ward 3 households have an average of 17 cars each. Must be something weird going on there.

by MLD on May 17, 2011 4:53 pm • linkreport

The other thing that we talked about in the SNAP planning process in 2001 is charging more for larger vehicles. A lot of households (housing units) might only have one car, but it is larger (lots of SUVs and minivans). This reduces parking inventory. In the rowhouse neighborhoods, except for corner houses, there is only 15 feet of width per house, which can accommodate one car.

The real issue is pricing the use of public space for car storage. It's worth a lot more than people are paying. It should be monetized and the money spent on transportation improvements.

by Richard Layman on May 17, 2011 7:03 pm • linkreport

@ DC driver/David Alpert: The first bar chart was generated off the number of household data but should have been generated off the number of car data.

While I was biking home, I figured 1 in 6 was a little bit low. Surely there must be more cars in DC. I figured, the table must not have included cars owned by Washingtonians that are parked in private garages. So that would only be 43k cars? Is 137k the absolute total of personal vehicles? 137k/600k=23%. I.e. more than three quarters of Washingtonians do not own a car. I'm gonna use that number is a lot of future arguments. Please let me know if I am making a mistake here.

Also, I am not surprised that a very small number of people have 10+ cars. Those are probably people who run a taxi business or have a company that has a delivery service. Apparently there's an advantage of owning the cars personally, over having the associated business own the car. Tax? Parking permit?

by Jasper on May 17, 2011 8:15 pm • linkreport

I think the definition of "Washingtonian" also needs some clarification, as there's quite a fare chunk of residents who still declare residency elsewhere -- particularly those freshly in from the suburbs & still driving their MD or VA cars. I've got a couple friends in that category & even toyed with the idea, myself, despite the law which is supposed to require people to register their cars if they park within the district for an extended duration.

by Bossi on May 17, 2011 8:25 pm • linkreport

I would presume that "household" here is how many cars are registered to one mailing address (thus separating, say, basement apartment dwellers who have their own address (#2 or B, for example), but including group house members (i.e. people who may be unrelated but split the cost of renting a house) and large families in a home with one mailing address.

After watching MTV Cribs, I can envision a few wealthy individuals wasting a ridiculous amount of cash owning ten cars. And buying a RPP for each. I am nonetheless amazed by the phenomena.

by Alan Page on May 17, 2011 8:36 pm • linkreport

This calculation estimates total payments for graduated RPP stickers per ward, but last I looked, Wards did not pay RPP, residents do. So to calculate where the burden is greatest, totalling up payments per ward doesn't cut it. How about impact per household as a percentage of total household income? That might explain why this seems to hurt more in Wards 7-8 than it does in Ward 3.

by Trulee Pist on May 17, 2011 9:07 pm • linkreport

@jasper;

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2009/mv1.cfm

200,000 private vehicles registered in the District of Columbia -- including taxi cabs and commercial trucks.

Let's be conservative and say 150,000 cars+trucks are registered to private citizens. Gives you some idea of the scale of the error here.

by charlie on May 17, 2011 11:40 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman: "The other thing that we talked about in the SNAP planning process in 2001 is charging more for larger vehicles."
This is covered in the registration fee: $72/year (<3500 lb); $115/year (3500-4999 lb); $155/year (>5000 lb). It is also covered in the excise tax: 6%, 7%, or 8% respectively, of the fair value of the vehicle at the time it is first registered. Registering $25,000 car will cost $1572, $1865, or $2155 depending on the weight. But I doubt the different registration fees have much effect on the sizes of vehicles that are bought; this decision is based on what one needs.

"In the rowhouse neighborhoods, except for corner houses, there is only 15 feet of width per house". Most rowhouses are 18 feet.

"The real issue is pricing the use of public space for car storage. It's worth a lot more than people are paying." As I proposed in another thread, why not charge the market rate which I estimated to be about $300/year? But if the purpose is only to raise money, then why not sell RPP stickers to anyone, including non-residents? The total number of RPPs is not limited.

by goldfish on May 17, 2011 11:54 pm • linkreport

Great job muriel. I am so thankful that you are on top of the actuals here and have so stood your ground.
Now get the facts next time and spend your energy on something that really matters to the residents and oh yes, voters of WARD 4!

by Keith Jarrell on May 18, 2011 7:36 am • linkreport

@ charlie: 200,000 private vehicles registered in the District of Columbia -- including taxi cabs and commercial trucks. Let's be conservative...

Let's not. 200k out of 600k is still 1 out of 3. Which means that if every car owner is driving in her car, including cabs and trucks, still a massive majority of 2 out of 3 Washingtonians are not sitting in a car.

This is an important point to make. The debate about transportation is always held under the silent assumption that 'everybody has a car'. Which is true if you limit 'everybody' to 'those needing to get around'. But that ignores all those who don't own a car and have different ways to get around, and all those who can't or choose not to have a car. We (I) find now that that is not a neglible group. It's 2/3 of the population.

by Jasper on May 18, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

@Jasper; you've got to factor in under 18 (prohibited) and unemployed.

I know in term of comparisons to states, DC has a low per capita car ownership. I think that's your point.

However, when I was looking at those figures, I also found there are something like 300,000 licensed drivers in DC. And look, 99% of adults over 18 are licensed drivers even if they don't own a car. So about 2/3 of adults own cars.

We've tangled over this before, and I'll state it again: My hypothesis is lack of car ownership among 16 to 25 year olds is a major factor in youth unemployment in Europe, and it also a factor in DC. That's usually why you get a car at 16 -- so you can drive to school and a part time job.

Leaving that aside, I'd say DC car ownerships numbers track with European ones per capita. I think in the UK about 2/3 of the adults own cars, which is about what we have here.

What would be interesting to track is if multiple car owners are distorting the US picture. I want to say there about 300M "private vehicles" in the US, mabe 200M drivers. The actual per capita ownership might be smaller.

by charlie on May 18, 2011 9:44 am • linkreport

@Jasper,

C'mon now. Think about it. 600K residents.

126K are 18 or younger. Another 102K residents live below the poverty line and wouldn't typically be "expected" to own vehicles.

So you have 600K residents, 200K are either to young or too poor to own vehicles and 200K who do.

Basically, everyone who can afford a car or is legally able to own one, typically does.

by freely on May 18, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

@charlie
And look, 99% of adults over 18 are licensed drivers even if they don't own a car.

I bet this is absolutely not true in DC. Factor in people who have an out-of-state license (a bunch) and the fact that plenty of low-income people don't have a license and your 300,000 doesn't remotely cover the over 18 population of DC.

According to Census 2010, there are 500,908 people over 18 in DC.

by MLD on May 18, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

@freely
By your breakdown
600K total residents
200K too young/poor to own a car
400K old enough/have the $ to own
200K cars

50% of people able to own a car owning one doesn't sound like "everybody" to me - it sounds like "half."

by MLD on May 18, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

@MLD; I accounted for that. An out of state person with a licence is still a licensed driver and falls into my 99% category, although not counted in the 300K drivers.

Unemployed, yes. However, I reckon almost everyone over 25 (unemployed) has a drivers license. 16 to 25, maybe not, because you might need to learners permit/class to get one, but after a certain point I think you can just get a license w/o taking a class. Costs the same as an ID card.

by charlie on May 18, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

@MLD,

Pardon me...who was I to know that in the realm of hyberbolic activism that plus or minus 30% was "close enough".

by freely on May 18, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@Jasper -- 25% of the DC population is 19 years or younger, or older than 85. These are people that (mostly) cannot own cars; excluding them you get roughly 450k persons eligible to drive a car. This makes your ratio 55% of the population that can but do not use a car. The 200k figure is reasonably close to the 248k total number of DC households. But this disagrees with the 1.3 vehicles per household in DC. By that estimate there should be 322k vehicles; perhaps there are differences in defining what a "household" is.

by goldfish on May 18, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

@ goldfish; plenty of over 85 year old people OWN cars, although they are usually being driven by someone else.

The driver just convicted this week in the U street accident, for instance, was driving a car owned by her grandmother.

by charlie on May 18, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

Jasper, I wouldn't jump on that non-car-owner estimate quite so hard. I used the most conservative methodology to estimate car ownership - assuming that all 200,000 vehicles are used for personal transportation and that all residents 19 and under and 70 and over are either incapable of driving or live in a situation where owning a personal vehicle is unnecessary (i.e., with other family members who have a car). One needs to cut at least 28.5% of the population out of the calculation of car ownership...making it only about 38.5% of presumably driving-capable adults who are non-car-owners. Using a slightly less conservative methodology, looking at children 15 and under and seniors 80 and over as the non-drivers gives 17% of the population as non-drivers, leaving 50% of the adult, driving-capable population without cars.

I'd say it's probably closer to, or maybe even below, the 38.5% number due to the number of people I know who have private parking and never register their vehicle in DC because of the "exorbitant" registration and inspection fees (their words, not mine...MD charges about $78/year in inspection and registration fees, while DC is $89.50...not such a big deal, if you ask me).

The number of non-car owners in DC is significant, but I would be an embarrassment to people who are good at statistics everywhere if I didn't point out that parading around saying 67% of DC residents don't own a car is more than a little facetious.

by Ms. D on May 18, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

@Jasper: Yes, 37% of DC households own no car, per 2000 Census. It's good to look at the number of car-less households as opposed to the average number of cars per household, since most households own between zero and one car.

See our map of car-less households in the city & chart by ward:
http://www.smartergrowth.net/anx/index.cfm/3,175,567/dccarfacts.pdf

by Cheryl Cort on May 18, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

I know who have private parking and never register their vehicle in DC because of the "exorbitant" registration and inspection fees (their words, not mine...MD charges about $78/year in inspection and registration fees, while DC is $89.50...not such a big deal, if you ask me).

Just wanted to point out that you can "snitch" on folks like this via 311. You can even submit service requests via the iPhone app "SeeClickFix" under "Out of State Parking Violation".

Technology!

by oboe on May 18, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

Hmm, looking at Cheryl Cort's map, which is based on 2000 numbers, I'd say it is young yuppies w/o cars in Wards 1, 2 and 6 who are pushing this. I wonder who that is.....

by charlie on May 18, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

I both live in Ward Four (Petworth) and am a professional transportation planner (37 years in the profession).

And "both of me," so to speak, agree with David's core points here. This ward would NOT suffer disproportionately from a social utility-based, graduated RPP program. Especially one that levied a "super fee" on third and fourth vehicles.

By the way, while we're on this topic, I, for one, want an RPP graduated by vehicle weight. Or, better yet, official EPA-posted mileage. That way gas-guzzling SUVs and large domestically manufactured large sedans would be assessed one rate, on one scale, and Priuses and Smarts would be assessed on another.

Then-CM Carol Schwartz tried three times to get motor vehicle registration fees in this Town schedulled based on an index that measured vehicle size, weight, carrying capacity and EPA-posted mileage. All three times she was shot down in flames by the same short-sighted, "I want my OWN little red wagon" petty arguments that this graduate RPP proposal is getting.

I wonder what the City Council will look and act like when it grows up...

Harold Foster
Petworth
Ward Four

by Harold Foster on May 18, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

My ANC rep, in Ward 5, has 4-5 cars for her household (I think 4 adults and 3 kids, though I'm not sure.) The whole household parks them willy-nilly all over the back alley, blocking egress and making a mess. We live in an area 12-15 minute walk from the Metro and on 2 bus lines. Not sure why they need a car for each adult. (We actually have parking pads on our block, and since she parks in the alley I doubt they get RPPs, so I don't know if this will affect their behavior at all.) But it is certainly a problem that some houses use a disproportionate amount of parking space without paying for it.

Lastly, in response to Geoffrey Hatchard, I cannot agree that "our parking enforcement officers in this city are pretty tenacious" since I call them about 1/mo for violaters in the back alley, in the rush hour lane, in crosswalks or elsewhere in my neighborhood, and only 1 time have they actually come and done anything. (Yet, when I parked 13" away from the curb in Dupont, I got a ticket.) I'm glad they are attentive in Trinidad but they could care less about Eckington.

by anon in Eckington on May 18, 2011 12:10 pm • linkreport

anon in Eckington: Since there are only two female ANC reps in Eckington, I'm curious - is it Farmer-Allen, or Pinkney who has all the cars parked willy-nilly?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on May 18, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

We've been down this escalating-registration-fee road before. DDOT's intent then was to discourage owning multiple cars. Trouble is, a $100 fee is small stuff compared to the annual costs of automobile ownership, so the escalating fees weren't going to succeed in persuading owners to shed those extra cars. Add to that the complexity of defining a "household", penalizing multigenerational families sharing a single dwelling, and actual need for cars for access to jobs, and the policy just wasn't workable.

If this is instead being proposed as a tax -- well, why the escalating fee? The assumption here is that those additional cars are an unfair burden on the public. Sure, I know of situations where that's the case, where cars are virtually "warehoused" on the street. But there are also cases where family size, and the number of licensed drivers in a household, and distance to jobs, makes multiple car ownership a real necessity. How does one solve that riddle, short of a bureaucracy to distinguish between cars that are needed, versus those that are simply wanted?

by Jack on May 18, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

Farmer-Allen. A recent visitor to my neighborhood could not believe all of the mess in that alley way was attributable to an elected official and said I should 'call Channel 4.' I am not hopeful for the future of the neighborhood so long as the 'representative' doesn't care about her neighborhood's cleanliness, safety or improvement.

by anon in Eckington on May 18, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

To make my own position clear -- I think car registration fees ought to be a heck of a lot higher than they are, especially if one doesn't have off-street parking. The value of a curbside parking spot is, judging by the rental rates of off-street spaces, about $75/month. Okay, let's make the registration fee $900/year, and by all means, make it higher for big cars, lower for small ones. That would be a serious incentive to minimize the number of cars one keeps parked on the street.

by Jack on May 18, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

@Harold Foster; as a confirmed small car lover (would buy a Fiesta if the GF would get into it) I like you idea. But on a policy basis, basing it on EPA mileage is stupid. Those numbers are gamed for a variety of reason. A better tie in is vehicle length, which determines how much space it is using.

Which brings a larger point. Jack is exactly right. This is a tax trying to look like a fee, which GGW types LOVE but the rest of us hate. You can call it a fee if it ties into the thing being taxes, but in reality is just another tax. You want revenue: make it broad, and increase vehicle registration taxes by $5.

Just for the record: I don't think this is the end of the world, or even a bad idea. DC needs revenue. However, when the proponents are so dishonest, you've got to smell a rat.

I wonder how many townhouse/single family homes even worry about street parking and RPP. It seems again it is the super rich vs those of us in apartments.

by charlie on May 18, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: you've got to factor in under 18 (prohibited) and unemployed.

Why? Are they not residents of DC with transportation needs? The under 18s may not vote, but that does not mean that politicians can ignore them. Admittedly, seeing the state of DC education, they try very hard, but that's besides the point.

Why only count adult? Are kids and the elderly no residents with transportation needs? I am willing to take out prisoners, because they tend to not move a lot.

@ freely: 126K are 18 or younger. Another 102K residents live below the poverty line and wouldn't typically be "expected" to own vehicles.

Yes, and? Why should they be ignored when it comes to transportation issues? Don't they need to get around?

Basically, everyone who can afford a car or is legally able to own one, typically does.

So therefore it is right to say that everyone has a car and transportation policy should be entirely based on car owners (if you exclude 2/3 of the population that does not own a car).

@ MLD:50% of people able to own a car owning one doesn't sound like "everybody" to me - it sounds like "half."

Point taken, but it's not 50%, it's 2/3. There is no reason to exclude people without a car (whatever the reason is they don't own a car).

@ goldfish/Ms.D:25% of the DC population is 19 years or younger, or older than 85. These are people that (mostly) cannot own cars; excluding them you get roughly 450k persons eligible to drive a car.

Again, why would you exclude non-car owners as stake-holders in setting transportation policy?

by Jasper on May 18, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

Post says CM Bowser was angry with CM Wells,
but also says the entire Transortation
Committee approved the plan..
Isn't Muriel on on that Committee...
How serious was the argument?

by Mike Jelen on May 18, 2011 10:59 pm • linkreport

Mike: She raised some of the same issues during the markup, but the argument was much more heated during the roundtable.

by David Alpert on May 19, 2011 8:28 am • linkreport

@Jasper -- all voters' opinions are to be considered in any policy. My simple point was that you had over-estimated the fraction of non-drivers.

by goldfish on May 19, 2011 9:21 am • linkreport

@ goldfish:My simple point was that you had over-estimated the fraction of non-drivers.

How?

The math is not hard. 200k cars for 600k residents. That's one car per three residents. Or two out of three without a car.

It's not even an estimation. It's cold hard federal numbers on vehicle registration (altruistically provided by charlie, and possibly excluding CM Barry's new ride) http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2009/mv1.cfm and census 2010 data on the population of DC. The number of cars is actually only 166k. 166k/600k is 28% with car, or 72% without.

by Jasper on May 19, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

@Jasper -- Please review my calculations here, then respond.

by goldfish on May 19, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

Interesting that CM Wells, in one stroke, is willing to annoy 6287 households with more than one car (32% of the total car-owning households in his ward) every time they renew their registration. Risky; you've got to respect that -- but respect does not necessarily translate into votes.

by goldfish on May 19, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

@ goldfish:@Jasper -- Please review my calculations here, then respond.

Done. See 2:13pm. Copy-paste:

@ goldfish/Ms.D:25% of the DC population is 19 years or younger, or older than 85. These are people that (mostly) cannot own cars; excluding them you get roughly 450k persons eligible to drive a car.

Again, why would you exclude non-car owners as stake-holders in setting transportation policy?

by Jasper on May 19, 2011 10:35 am • linkreport

@ Jasper; so 2 out 3 "household" own cars, or about 1 out of 3 people.

I'm not going to argue with you on the need to find other stakeholders. I will argue with Alpert's characterization of "filthy rich car-owners" since it appears that car ownership is fairly broad based.

Let's say we ban a RPP to any car that has a book value of over 20K.

by charlie on May 19, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

@Jasper -- We have come full circle. Do you have something more to say?

by goldfish on May 19, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

@ charlie: so 2 out 3 "household" own cars, or about 1 out of 3 people.

I'll keep those as the settled numbers.

@ goldfish: We have come full circle. Do you have something more to say?

Other than that I honestly do not understand your point, not really.

by Jasper on May 19, 2011 1:40 pm • linkreport

@Jasper -- my ONLY point was that you overestimated the fraction of non-drivers. It is not 2/3, because around 25% are either not eligible to drive, or capable of driving. Since only 75% of the population can drive, your figure is skewed.

I have no other point. I did not say only drivers should be allowed to be "stakeholders on transportation policy", whatever that means. Rather, that all voters' opinions should be weighed on all policies. (Note that this about 70% of the population since about 30% is either not yet 18 or not a citizen.)

by goldfish on May 19, 2011 6:17 pm • linkreport

"@Jacques -- How is DC going to track this? Vehicle B for example is owned by son-in-law (age 32) at 1234 99th street. Vehicle A is owned by great-grandfather (age 82) at the same address. How much does DC charge son-in-law for his RPP? Up the street Mr Jones rents out 2 rooms to interns; all own cars. Is the 3rd car going to pay $100 for the RPP? Okay so lets say the Mr Jones signs an affidavit stating that his roomies are not a part of his "household." But then more interestingly, say Mr Jones takes up conjugal relations with one of his roomies, and stops charging that person rent. Do these two now constitute a "household"? And how does DC determine this?
This is impossible and stupid. The easy, fair, and equitable answer is just charge the RPP per vehicle.
"

@goldfish, this is far simpler than you make it out to be. (You're trying very hard to make it impossible, and even then, it's still pretty easy.) Cars are registered to people. People have ages. If the registrant of the vehicle is a senior, they can enjoy the discounted rate. To get an RPP, one needs a residence. As it is now, one has to show they reside in a particular area (with RPPs), and in fact, one must show proof of residency to get the RPP (and indeed, to register the car). So the District already has a record of (a) where RPP recipients live, and (b) their ages. Regardless of whether that seems creepy or not (and it kind of does), it's not hard to figure out what they should be charged. Multiple vehicles registered at the same address get charged the higher rate. (First come, first served, so yes, one can "game" the system b having grandpa register his car last, so his $25 fee applies instead of $50 or $100 or whatever.)

by Paul Product on May 19, 2011 7:57 pm • linkreport

@Paula Product -- Let us say that an address has three vehicles, A, B, C. Vehicle A was registered first, and gets renewed at $25. Now presume that the owner sells old vehicle A and registers new vehicle D. By your thinking vehicle B now gets the $25 registration fee while vehicle D gets the $100 fee. The program favors older, less safe, more polluting vehicles. I do not think that is what should be encouraged.

As others have pointed out, this RPP is small compared to the cost of keeping a car (my guess is a minimum of $2000/year for insurance and maintenance). People do not pay these costs frivolously; if they have more than car they usually need them. So then it just looks like a "gimme" on those that really have no choice.

There needs to be a reason for the added fee; what is implied is that having more than one car per address has adds cost to the city. This is a really tax cloaked as a fee, and that is wrong.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 9:09 am • linkreport

goldfish: Why would D cost $100? That assumes only that the DMV has a fairly ignorant algorithm for determining the rates.

It could quite simply say, "in our database it seems you've got a car at $50 and another at $100, so you get your $35 registration this time."

by David Alpert on May 20, 2011 9:13 am • linkreport

@DA -- because that address already has vehicles B and C registered there. That means D must cost $100.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

Only if the computer system is too simplistic and it doesn't realize that if you sell A, you ought to be able to register another car at A rate.

At the DC DMV, when you sell a car, you can transfer the RPP and registration over to another car. So the person shouldn't have to pay anything.

Actually, a better algorithm is this:

If you have 1 car, your total annual RPP fee should be $35
If you have 2 cars, your total annual RPP fee should be $85 ($35 + $50)
If you have 3 cars, your total annual RPP fee should be $185 ($35 + $50 + $100)

When you register a car, compute the total annual RPP fee for the household. Then, subtract all RPP fees paid already that year.

The person has A, B, and C and paid $185. Then, they sell A and instead of transferring the registration over, they get D and want to register it afresh. When registering D, the DMV computer says, "ah, A seems to have been transferred off of your address. Therefore, D is your third car. You should pay a total of $185 for the year based on this number. We see you already paid $185 this year. Therefore, you get this RPP sticker for free."

It also addresses the grandpa scenario Paul Product listed before so that it doesn't matter which order you register the cars in. That household should ultimately pay $110 ($35 + $50 + $25).

If 2 non-grandpa cars get registered first, the household will pay $85. Then, when grandpa goes to register, the system will compute that the final total for the household ought to be $110, and charge grandpa $25.

But on the other hand, if grandpa registers first, he'll pay $25. Then when the family registers cars 2 and 3 we don't want the system charging them $50 and $100 just because they're the second cars. But it won't. When they register #2, it computes their total annual charge at $60 ($25 + $35) and charges $35; then when they register #3, it will charge $50 to get them to the appropriate total of $110.

Handling the different scenarios is a job for the programmers and there's money in the proposal for the DMV to upgrade its computer system. As long as they hire capable programmers, they should be able to handle all of these situations fairly.

by David Alpert on May 20, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

@DA: The proposed increases will raise $2340395 (sum of the "all" column in the 2nd chart) from 137682 (1st chart) RPP stickers, assuming nobody games the system to reduce their fee or opts out of the RPP. That works out to $17 per vehicle.

Must be something wrong here because the minimum increase was $20 per sticker.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

goldfish: The Mayor already is recommending raising the charges from $15 to $25. So Wells' proposal is using $25 as the baseline. I just computed extra revenue above that, because it's the Wells proposal which is what the Council was arguing about.

by David Alpert on May 20, 2011 9:38 am • linkreport

@DA -- run your idea by the DMV, but I think they will shoot it down forthwith.

One never almost registers three cars at one time; they are registered as they are acquired. Further the RPP is attached to a vehicle, not an address. So when A is sold before the year has been completed on the RPP, the remaining time is forfeit. They are not gonna say, "well you've got eight months on your RPP, so you new one for D will only cost you $35/3= $11.67

That means that the cheaper RPP gets transferred to the next car registered when it is up for renewal.

If more money is needed why not just increase the cost to $50 per? There are single car household that also really don't need a car.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

@goldfish

The RPP is attached to the vehicle, but the vehicle must be registered and therefore must have an address in the system.

by Alex B. on May 20, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

@Alex B -- The RPP renews with registration, look at your window sticker.

Old car A is replaced with new car D and D gets a new registration. The old RPP for car A is forfeit and discarded because you can't have the RPP renew at a different time from the registration. (Well you could, but that would mean a separate window sticker and separate billing from the registration...) Since at that point in time, car D appears as the third car for that address, the fee for the RPP must be $100.

You can't do it the way DA suggests without having a separate registration and RPP stickers, and separate billing for the RPP. That is why the fee rolls to the next car registered, car B.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

goldfish: The computer can do whatever you want it to do. The RPP doesn't need to be $100 because it can easily notice that the $25 RPP was unregistered.

A is replaced with D. When A is registered to someone else, the computer system notes that now the household has dropped down to only 2 RPPs. It can have special logic that if a household drops down during the year, the new registration can get the rate of the one that was already dropped off.

Agencies do rulemakings and update computer systems for exactly this reason. When a law comes down that says what to do, they figure out how to deal with specific cases, come up with rules, and program them in.

I still don't understand why you think it has to be $100. If there is a case which can be clearly defined where it's not right for it to be $100, it can be put into a computer system.

by David Alpert on May 20, 2011 11:48 am • linkreport

@DA you are mixing stack with a queue. Sure you can deal with it, but do you think the DMV will go for it, when it would be simpler to keep it as a queue?

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 12:31 pm • linkreport

goldfish: I know very well the difference between a stack and a queue, thanks. Yes, they will go for it, if the alternative is angry customers and they're encouraged to by residents, elected officials, and others passing this issue on to the people writing the regs.

The people writing the computer code also know very well the difference between a stack and a queue and can implement whichever one they're told to implement.

by David Alpert on May 20, 2011 12:59 pm • linkreport

@DA -- no need to get defensive; I was raising the point in language I knew you would understand.

The angry people are the ones paying the exorbitant fees and taxes to re-register their 2nd (or 3rd) car. For two years: 2x$72 registration + $35 inspection + 2*$50 RPP (for 2nd car) = $279 for a car < 3500 lb. For a larger car (3500-5000 lb) the cost is $355. Add $100 to these figures for a 3rd car.

by goldfish on May 20, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

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