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Parking countdown #1: More parking means more traffic

If you're reading this, please head down right now to the Zoning Commission, 441 4th St NW (One Judiciary Square). If you arrive before 6:30, I'll be at Firehook (until 6) and then out front; everyone testifying in support of the rules gets a free Firehook cookie on me. Opponents: feel free to spend lots of time writing detailed comments on this post. :)

Traffic is our fate. Parking reform is a step toward salvation. Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr.

This is the last of ten daily posts about why the Zoning Commission should approve the Office of Planning recommendations on off-street parking, leading up to the hearing on Thursday, July 31 at 6:30 pm.


Today's argument is very simple: Parking requirements cause traffic.

More parking means more cars.

More cars mean more driving.

More driving means more traffic.

DC's streets have no more room for more traffic. We're not about to widen them, nor should we. Major routes are already plenty busy. DC is growing, and some of those people will get around by driving, while others won't. To avoid paralyzing gridlock, we need policies that promote as much of the latter and as little of the former as possible. This change will do that.

Our choice is simple. More suburban development, more traffic, more pollution, more high gas bills... or higher transit ridership, bicycling, and roads with enough room so people who really do need to drive can do so.

The Current reporter asked me why this is so important. As I told him, it's important because parking affects so much else. And because we may be stuck with this zoning code for another 50 years. We can't afford 50 years of the 1958 vision of the city.

Come on down to 441 4th Street right now and speak up.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


Wow, only 4 opponents spoke, and they were all Committee of 100 in different colors.

While there was much redundant testimony, I think the proponents did very well.

Also, the idea that George Clark and Barbara Zartman cite social engineering as a reason to oppose this proposal is simply astonishing.

by William on Jul 31, 2008 10:18 pm • linkreport

hmmm ... Here's how Wikipedia defines Social Engineering:

"Social engineering is a concept in political science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behavior on a large scale, whether by governments or private groups."

Okay, you're proposing to make it more difficult for people to use THEIR preferred mode of transport ... to get them to switch to YOUR preferred mode of transport. It definitely sounds like social engineering to me ...

People should be free to make choices ... for good or for bad ... Since we all have our own ideas of what is good and what is bad. If we don't have enough parking in the District it plainly means that people by and large have chosen to drive into the District ... and drive from and around the District. No one has put a gun to their heads and forced them to do so. If more roads and parking garages have been built, it has been to satisfy demand. (Now, I'm not saying the rights of others should have been overridden in doing so as happened too many times ... Just that they were built in response to a need/desire/want.) If we have a parking shortage because there are many people out there who prefer personal transporatation to mass transit (which we do), that means that ensuring more parking is nothing more than going along with the choices that the populace has made. It is government fulling its democratic mandate to facilitate the workings of the citizenry and not dictate it. On the contrary, when you work at making it more difficult for people to excercise their choices, you are working against the right of people to have choices. The government deserves no role is social engineering.

by Lance on Jul 31, 2008 11:52 pm • linkreport

You miss a huge point -- driving is HUGELY subidized by all of us, including non-drivers. Subsidizing driving is also a form of social engineering. Plus, isn't REQUIRING parking a form of government mandate? Why should the government dictate that people build parking? People drive because the government has made it cheap and easy to do so and because, in many cases, has given them no other alternative. Now that driving is becoming somewhat expensive, all of the drivers are clamoring for even more subsidies and the politicians look increasingly silly as they try to look they are "doing something" even though they know they have no control over gas prices.

by rg on Aug 1, 2008 7:37 am • linkreport

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