Greater Greater Washington

Georgetown businesses and residents don't support Evans' parking meter rollback proposal

Councilmember Jack Evans says he wants to roll back parking meter rates and hours of enforcement in commercial corridors, including Georgetown, because of complaints from businesses and residents in his ward. But after speaking to organizations representing residents and businesses in Georgetown, I found no support for Evans' proposal.


Who is complaining to Evans? Photo by mdanys on Flickr.

The proposal passed out of Evans' Committee on Finance and Revenue by a 3-2 vote, and he frequently points to these complaints in defending the $5.2 million measure. He told the Examiner, "I get consistent complaints about the parking meters everywhere I go in my ward from residents. I can't go into a restaurant without the owner coming out to complain about the cost of the parking meters."

Despite this, neither the Georgetown BID nor the manager of the largest group of Georgetown restaurants support the proposal.

The Georgetown ANC and Citizens Association have passed no resolutions and sent no letters to Evans requesting reductions in either meter rates or enforcement hours. In fact, the ANC has been working with DDOT for a couple years to put in place a performance parking pilot that would increase parking turnover and availability by charging market rates at meters.

Jennifer Altemus, president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG), told the Current (large PDF) in supporting a parking pilot that "We need to see more spaces open up in a timely fashion."

The change would induce more visitors to drive and to park for longer periods, which means more drivers seeking fewer available spaces and circling the residential blocks for free parking spots where CAG's members live.

Many have assumed that businesses are behind the plan, but the opposite appears to be the case, at least in Georgetown. The Georgetown BID has passed no resolution and sent no letter to Evans asking for the reductions. In fact, the Executive Director of the BID, Jim Bracco, told us, "We remain a proponent of performance parking and having rates and meter hours that can make garages more competitive."

The manager of the largest restaurant group in Georgetown, Paul J Cohn, has also not asked Evans for the reductions. Cohn runs Capital Restaurant Concepts, which includes J Pauls, Paolo's, Old Glory, Neyla and Third Edition, among other restaurants.

Cohn told us that "enforcement should not end at 6:30pm, because enforcement leads to turnover of spots." He does support reducing meter rates, but only if enforcement is stepped up to ensure that turnover goes up and doesn't go down as a result. Turnover, for Cohn as for all organizations representing Georgetown, is the goal.

While Evans is citing the complaints and requests of his constituents in defending the rollback of meter rates and enforcement, whoever is asking for this appears to be talking to Evans and no one else.

I asked Evans on Monday to meet with Topher Mathews, David Alpert, and myself (all constituents) to discuss his proposal, but have yet received no reply.

Some constituents are starting to complain that Evans, in his handling of Hardy Middle School and meter rates, is basing public policy on the complaints of a small number of vocal residents who don't well represent his constituency.

Evans introduced legislation in March appointing Patrick Pope as principal of Hardy based on complaints he received from parents upset that Michelle Rhee transferred him.

The complaints of a minority should obviously be heard and addressed. But sometimes that requires affirming the goal sought by constituents while meeting that goal through different means.

That's what Council Chair Kwame Brown did with regard to Hardy Middle School in telling the Current that "Regardless of parent opinions on Mr. Pope, DC Public Schools has a process for principal selection" and that "the result will be a stakeholder-driven selection of a candidate who will bring the community together and work to propel Hardy Middle School to new levels of achievement."

Evans should affirm the goals of whoever is complaining to him in Ward 2 that it shouldn't be so hard to find a parking spot and to avoid a fine. However, he should address those complaints through a policy that will actually achieve these goals.

One of the best solutions for Georgetown is one we have advocated for a long time: market-rate performance parking using pay-by-cell and multi-space meters that make it easy to avoid fines. This is the best system to increases turnover and availability of parking spots in the District. It will help both residents and businesses in Georgetown, unlike Evans' misguided proposal.

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Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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You would think that Georgetown restaurants would want to turn over tables faster and that costlier and shorter term parking would be perfect for this. Bars might have a different opinion, though.

by aaa on May 19, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

If I remember, Georgetown along M St. always had later meter hours -- until 8. Residential parking also had two hour limits.

Rush hour enforcement on M st also appears to be down. I noticed a UPS truck double parked at 5:30 yesterday jamming up traffic for blocks.

What is really needed along M St (for several blocks) is removing all street parking and expanding the sidewalk.

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

@aaa,

Bars shouldn't be encouraging people to drive to their establishment. Period.

by Rayful Edmond on May 19, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

Will someone please let me know when Greater Greater gets over its horse and pony show on parking rates? I don't want to be checking this site every day and finding more of this nonsense EVERY time.

by glenn on May 19, 2011 10:19 am • linkreport

@glenn: as soon as rolling back the parking meter rates and hours is off the table for the budget, we'll probably roll back to the usual amount of performance parking coverage.

by Michael Perkins on May 19, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

@glenn:
We don't like having to write about bad legislative proposals either. So if you want us to stop writing about this, write your council member and ask him or her to oppose the proposal.

by Matt Johnson on May 19, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

Ponies are horses. I think you mean "dog and pony" show. Which is a not terribly apt metaphor (there's nothing terribly elaborate ot showy about this argument), but you could at least get the term right. Sticking with the equine references, maybe you should have gone with "hobby horse".

by TM on May 19, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

""Bars shouldn't be encouraging people to drive to their establishment. Period.""

+1

In my neighborhood they encourage driving by providing valet parking !

by Tom Coumaris on May 19, 2011 10:42 am • linkreport

@Rayful Edmond; why? Is there something illegal about buying two drinks and then driving?

by charlie on May 19, 2011 10:48 am • linkreport

@ Ken

While Evans is citing the complaints and requests of his constituents in defending the rollback of meter rates and enforcement, whoever is asking for this appears to be talking to Evans and no one else.

No one else that you know of, anyway. In any case, they don't really need to talk to anyone else, do they? If you have the ear of the people who make the decisions, it's much easier to bypass all the meetings and discussions and blah blah blah.

The big decisions get made far above your paygrade.

by Dizzy on May 19, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

The big decisions get made far above your paygrade.

Who, pray tell, are making these decisions if not the ANC, CAG, BID and the largest restaurant group in Georgetown?

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

Yeah, Rayful, not to digress from the topic here too much, but that's a pretty far fetched assumption. There are plenty of people who go to bars who do not drive drunk. The idea that parking meter rates would be used as a tactic stop drunk drivers is a level of government preposterousness and intervention that we're not ready for.

by aaa on May 19, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

@TM:

Sticking with the equine references, maybe you should have gone with "hobby horse".

I like cheval de bataille, as in "the spavined cheval de bataille of Tweeting hipster prima donnas"... (w/ Apologies to George Bernard Shaw).

by oboe on May 19, 2011 11:04 am • linkreport

@Ken,

1. If there's anything I've learned from my time in Georgetown, it's to never assume that what someone tells you to your face matches up with what they say behind closed doors.

2. Consider this to be a good exercise in logic. Start coming up with a list of all the people who would benefit from reduced rates and hours and/or would be hurt by the opposite. Once you feel like you've exhausted the possibilities, look at which ones have the capacity to influence the distinguished CM. Rank the possibilities in order of likelihood and voila!

by Dizzy on May 19, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

I agree that its counterintuitive...Restaurants/shops/bars should all hope for turnover, ie two hour parking is better for shops/bars/shops. I'm not sure why Evans thinks any different. I would rather have a bunch of potential customers than only a few.

Also nothing is wrong with having two drinks and driving home, if you weigh more than 150 lbs...but you also should be able to do that in 2 hours.

by whoa_now on May 19, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport


Nice to see we are on a 3rd day arguing about something that if enacted consists of 0.07% of the DC budget. I am so glad there aren't any actual fundamental issues or problems in town to address.

by freely on May 19, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

@ whoa_now

I agree that its counterintuitive...Restaurants/shops/bars should all hope for turnover, ie two hour parking is better for shops/bars/shops. I'm not sure why Evans thinks any different. I would rather have a bunch of potential customers than only a few.

True to an extent. However, the real money is made off of alcohol, so as a business, you would rather a party stay longer and keep ordering more and more booze than to have lots of turnover where new tables are seated and order food but not that much alcohol.

by Dizzy on May 19, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

Ah, yes. Sell more alcohol by encouraging people to drive to bars. There's a bulletproof strategy.

by andrew on May 19, 2011 11:35 am • linkreport

@ andrew

If they're too drunk, you can always lean on them to stay longer to sober up over coffee and dessert (another high profit item). They're getting quite good at this - a little while back, our waitress at Chef Geoff's downtown very casually checked to make sure we didn't drive there. It was very well-modulated.

by Dizzy on May 19, 2011 11:41 am • linkreport

The decrease will bring back a lot of all-day meter parking.

At my office whenever someone was running late to work we'd drive in and park at a meter. The hassle of feeding the meter every two hours was minimal and enforcement doesn't uphold the two hour total limit so long as the meter's fed. At $8 per day this is cheaper than taking a cab even from Dupont/Logan, much less upper northwest or the suburbs.

A lot of spaces are taken by all-day parkers under the prior rates.

by Tom Coumaris on May 19, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

Jack your not my counilman but i dont support this plan, isnt this going to put more cars on the road and less money for the city tranist needs

by Jerome on May 19, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

@Charlie,

Rolling back meters to two hours wouldn't be an issue if people only drank two beers. In a typical human, one drink is processed in one hour.

The problem is bargoers having the opportunity to drink for four hours then getting back into their parked car and driving home. I'm not to claim fact that people that are patronizing a bar for four hours are going to get wasted, but they are likely drinking more than two beers.

by Rayful Edmond on May 19, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

Wow! From parking meters to Hardy MS? Someone at GGW is jockeying for Evans' chairmanship. Keep trying.

by snowpeas on May 19, 2011 12:10 pm • linkreport

I'm not in favor of rolling back parking rates, but the tone of GGW on this issue is getting pretty shrill. Ad hominem attacks on diners (100 for dinner, but wont pay 4 for parking), is a facile reduction of real opposition to parking rates, mechanisms, and times. the evidence that Evans may be badly representing his constituency is thin, but there. Dragging up an issue about school principals is tangential at best. And finally, attacking policy makers who advocate a parking changes as if they are making a real decision on social services is just irresponsible, and not related to any reasonable discussion of the city's budget.

GGW should advocate smart parking policy, because it's smart. Less populism please.

by CJ on May 19, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

Why must this be all or nothing? How about a compromise where the rayes and hours are rolled back on weekdays until the cell phone based performance parking solution you outlime above can be implemented?

by Falls Church on May 19, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

@Rayful Edmond; funny. I can hit 4 drinks before I hit a legal limit. And remember-- drinking and driving is legal. It is being drunk that is illegal.

@snowpeas: exactly.

by charlie on May 19, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

Fortunately being a male over 200lbs, so can I.

However, I still opt to not drive after going out to a bar. I enjoy getting awesome too much that stopping at 4 drinks is simply a waste.

by Rayful Edmond on May 19, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

is basing public policy on the complaints of a small number of vocal residents who don't well represent his constituency

The sheer irony.

by HogWash on May 19, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

Dizzy,

I get your point about alcohol, but parking goes beyond restaurants. Shops in general would want more turnover in parking. Lets not just appease to restaurants that need high bar tabs, lets cater to the community, that involves shops, residents, visitors, Restaurants, etc.

by whoa_now on May 19, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

Charlie,

Remind me not to go out when you've been drinking. I'm sure you've measured your blood alcohol content after 4 drinks and you're well under the legal limit. That doesn't mean you're not impared. Also number of drinks isn't the only varible involved with being drunk. Food, time, sick, medication, type, etc can all increase/lower/speed up your influence to alcohol. Parking policy should not be based on the ability to drink more... Actually it should be the reverse.

by whoa_now on May 19, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

@whoa_now; please. I only bike drunk. Is that worse?

And I'm a much better driver* after 6 drinks than half the idiots in this city. After all, I'd rather be drunk than checking facebook, listening to music, or yelling at your kid.

* I have noticed that drunk biking does result in some stupid stunts. Sorry about that. I didn't mean to flash you.

by charlie on May 19, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

Driving back from a bar can be perfectly safe. When I lived in a midwestern mill town, we'd go out and have several drinks each before driving home, and there was never any problem.

(Of course, when it was your turn to drive, those drinks would be Diet Coke, but the point still stands.)

by cminus on May 19, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

@charlie
I'd rather you be drunk than yelling at my kid, too!

by OctaviusIII on May 19, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

I bet GGW lovvved the strict parking that 8th street (Barracks Road) tried a few years ago. Unfortunately, it killed the businesses.

by beatbox on May 19, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

Really? It's still mostly in place, with only a few tweaks, and the businesses are doing great.

by David Alpert on May 19, 2011 2:54 pm • linkreport

I bet GGW lovvved the strict parking that 8th street (Barracks Road) tried a few years ago. Unfortunately, it killed the businesses.

I was wondering whatever happened to all the stores and restaurants that used to be on Barracks Row! Mystery solved!

by oboe on May 19, 2011 2:57 pm • linkreport

They all saw an immediate drop in business with the new parking structure....complained and got it changed.

by beatbox on May 19, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport

dave/oboe:

I am talking about when before the stadium opened. They made a ton of non-resident spots zone 6 only. It didn't last long after business complained. And as a neighborhood resident, I agree it didn't make sense.

by beatbox on May 19, 2011 3:06 pm • linkreport

@ whoa_now

Shops in general would want more turnover in parking.

Same thing: true, but only to an extent. Generally speaking, those who have made the investment to drive down to Georgetown (or any retail area) are more likely to purchase something, rather than leave empty-handed, since that would make for a "wasted trip." Psychologically, those who arrived on transit (unless they came from very far away) and are not tethered to cars do not feel the same sense of investment in the trip. I can't for the life of me remember the psych study that looked at this, but I recall it being discussed with great interest at a retailers convention once.

by Dizzy on May 19, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

Ken: You guys gotta knock off the whiny posts re how rich people suck and should be taxed more to fund a disfunctional government and your bike lanes and bike share program. This CM sucks re they drive a car, this CM sucks re they disagree with your thoughts re meters and RPP, this CM.... yaaaaaawn.

Between you and Alpert, its turning into total soozeville over here at GGW.

by Lizzie in DC on May 19, 2011 10:07 pm • linkreport

Does anybody actually let their parking time be governed by the parking meter rate? Do people who park and shop in Georgetown, especially, care about a few dollars for parking? The assumption here is that the higher rates will cause people to hurry their shopping or eating to avoid the additional couple of dollars. I don't think anyone really cares about that, and the notion that the higher rates will bring about more rapid parking spot turnover is incorrect.

IMHO the higher rates are about increased revenue for the District, not encouraging parking spot turnover.

by Jack on May 20, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

Does anybody actually let their parking time be governed by the parking meter rate?

Good question. First, no enforcement (which Evans proposes for after 6:30pm) obviously reduces turnover. Second, we don't have to assume anything, because we can collect data to see what happens when rates are increased. BTW, the assumption is not so much that people will hurry up to finish their meal (they'll be able to add time via cell very soon) but that they won't loiter while shoppers are circling the block looking for an available spot.

by Ken Archer on May 20, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

To the government-hating commenters: you've misunderstood the reason for GGW's opposition to rolling back meter rates and hours: it has nothing to do with revenue and everything to do with good urban policy. This is clear from the posts GGW has done on this issue, but you apparently refuse to see that because of your ideology, which seems to be that all taxes are bad and the DC government is massively incompetent.

by Arnold on May 20, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

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