Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Precious on-street parking


Photo by Dylan Passmore on Flickr.
Car sharing may get competition: Hertz's car sharing service may come to DC and create competition for Zipcar; that prompted DDOT to start auctioning its curbside car sharing spaces instead of giving them away for free. (Current via TBD)

Central DC parking spaces now have pay by phone: DDOT announced that all metered spaces in Ward 2 now have pay-by-phone and much of Ward 6 as well. There's a map of pay-by-phone spaces. Sign up for ParkMobile to use the service, which costs 32¢ on top of parking charges.

More on taxis: Harry Jaffe says the administration's statement includes "bald-faced lies" about the taxi arrest incident. (Examiner) ... Senior officials will attend a seminar on working with the media. (Post) ... Mike DeBonis suggests reporters also take an interest in the Taxi Commission's many other, long-standing dysfunctions. (Post)

Ravtich Rhee-thinks Rhee-form: Once-conservative (some say "turncoat") education reformer Diane Ravitch has become the leading critic of Michelle Rhee. Meanwhile, is Rhee's cause in danger of getting tied up with a larger Republican agenda? (City Paper)

Transit site redesign a flop: The new MTA website has poor layout, makes it hard to find schedules, and hides information in PDFs. At least it has no Flash. (Baltimore Sun)

Holy water denied: A Prince George's County Council committee opposes a water permit for construction of a 900-seat church in Laurel. They say it will excessively disturb the land; the pastor alleges religious discrimination. (Post)

SF to LA, 32 hours on trains and buses: After a transit geek figured out it was possible to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles entirely by public transportation (in 32 hours), one enterprising reporter decided to give the trip a try. (SF Weekly)

Mica's district hates his plan: House Transportation Chair John Mica has proposed eliminating dedicated funding for bike and ped projects, but counties and cities in his own northeastern Florida district have condemned the idea. (Streetsblog)

And...: House Appropriations approved the budget for DC whose residents cannot elect them. (Post) ... WMATA approved its $2.5 billion budget with few service cuts. (Post) ... Several restaurants will install 6 beehives at GWU to supply honey. (PoP)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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The City Paper did a similar story to the SF Weekly story in 2008, only it was about the writer trying to get from DC to NYC on the train without taking Amtrak. Took him about 12 hours.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/35550/the-third-rail-how-to-take-the-train-from-dc

by anon on Jun 24, 2011 9:07 am • linkreport

RE: MTA Website

Their new website is better designed than the old one, but still just as useless since it appears that lots of the information that used to be on the old website is now gone. No more fare tables for MARC - now you have to look up different trips individually...

by MLD on Jun 24, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

Ugh...just what we need...another megachurch. Every time I get stuck in the traffic jams they cause, I can't help but compare them to a form of "assembly line religion"...

by Froggie on Jun 24, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

It's about time that for-profit businesses (Like Zipcar) start actually paying for the public parking spaces they use. For 8 years the city simply gave zipcar 86 street spaces for free. Last year they had to pay a paltry $200 a year per space.

I hope now with Hertz in the bidding that the spaces do go for the anticipated ~$3,600 per space. Atleast the public would be getting faily compensated for the loss of use of their property.

by freely on Jun 24, 2011 9:20 am • linkreport

@Froggie

Back where I grew up, there was one particularly large megachurch sitting by the intersection of an Interstate and a major boulevard. We referred to it as Six Flags Over Jesus.

by Dizzy on Jun 24, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

Re: Ravitch and "some say 'turncoat'" -- Edgy, in that fair-and-balanced way, I suppose. But what's with the ad hominem?

Actually, doing a quick google search of "Diane Ravitch" and "turncoat" turns up hardly anyone saying that. In fact, even those raging lefties of the National Review go out of their way not to deem her thus.

by Kevin on Jun 24, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

I think you can say a little more than the pastor "alleges" religious discrimination. A jury, judge, and federal appeals court has already found the county guilty of discrimination for the actions of the County Council against this pastor. It doesn't sound unreasonable to me that the pastor still thinks he's being discriminated against, since this water permit decision was also made by the County Council.

Just another reason for PG county to have the council and the development decision-making body be independent entities (as is done in Montgomery).

by funInSun52 on Jun 24, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

Auctioning the spaces for car-sharing makes sense and seems fair. So, then why is it that the Chinatown buses have to pay a blanket $80K/year for public space rental when they probably don't take up more than 4 or 5 parking spaces? I say the Chinatown buses should be able to compete for the car-sharing spaces in the auction.

Hmmm...do you think the preferential treatment Zipcar has been getting all these years has anything to do with Gabe Klein (former DDOT Head) being a former Zipcar executive?

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

@freely
I think that in allowing people in DC to go car-free and therefore reducing the number of cars in the district offsets the low low fee Zipcar pays for street parking.

by Merarch on Jun 24, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

SF Weekly proves why people take cars or fly planes.

by Burger on Jun 24, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

Re Car sharing may get competition:

Stupid move by DC. Free or very low cost spaces means car-sharing companies can expand coverage with minimal overhead. Now they'll have to recoup the overhead, meaning "underused" cars will likely disappear. Instead of wheels when you want them, it'll be wheels when you need them in 4 days.

And now another company will introduce price competition.

Put those two together: Zipcar's service has been, in my experience, great, but I expect it won't be like that any more. Cut service or raise prices? Most every business opts for the former.

Time for me to buy a car.

by Bob See on Jun 24, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

Burger: Or take Amtrak or intercity buses.

This is the transit equivalent of trying to drive from Boston to Miami without getting on a single interstate; you can do it, and see interesting places, but it's slow. You don't say "this is why people don't drive," though.

by David Alpert on Jun 24, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

Re Zipcar:

I get the argument that the City should be subsidizing ways to permit people to live car-free. It certainly does that with permitting CaBi to use public space, free of charge. Or to permit my 65 year old mother-in-law a lower fare on Metro.

But people are forgetting, Zipcar is a for-profit enterprise that is delivering returns for its shareholders. It is not a public trust, excuse the term, like CaBi or Metro. Let's not forget - and I love him - Gabe Klein had scads of Zipcar shares from his former role in the compnay, so the decision to give these spaces away for free would end up in his pocket. And it did witness its recent IPO: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/zipcar-zooms-60-higher-in-ipo-2011-04-14

The logic for those proponents of free spaces goes something like this: "I want the price I pay to use Zipcar to be lower, so I am perfectly okay to provide additional stock value and profit to the shareholders of these companies." I myself would prefer that if there is competition in this area, to let the companies decide what you are willing to pay for use of the car, and that they will have the incentive to make it cheap enough so you don't go out and buy a car. I see no reason why DC should sacrifice the FMV of the spaces in fees where they can charge the market rate for them.

For the record: I'm a Zipcar member, bike commuter, CaBi member. I have no agenda to open up more spaces for parking my car.

.

by SAS on Jun 24, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

@Bob,

Any "for profit" business that has to receive $300K a year worth of free parking to operate, has a crap business model. The District taxpayers shouldn't be paying for the profit of zipcars shareholders.

On a blog that so frequently waxes poetic about the injustices of DC's parking meter rates and about the severe injustice of not "doubling, tripling" current parking rates, I find it the height of hypocrisy that people would also be ok giving away those same spots for free, or nearly free. To a for-profit company of all things!

Zipcar people aren't producing taxable revenue in the District, the District doesn't benefit. It isn't like someone is renting a car in Columbia Heights to go to dinner in Chinatown. People rent Zipcars to:

1. Move (no economic gain to DC)
2. Go shopping (usually to big box retailers outside DC, Costoc, Ikea etc, again no economic gain to DC)
3. Travel outside of DC for the weekend (no economic gain to DC)

So please explain to me again why the taxpayer has to give extremely valuable public asset (according to GGW) away, free for nearly a decade, now for pennies on the dollar, when the District doesn't benefit directly, indirectly or via a GGW favorite "externalities"?

@Merarch,

No one in the District, and I mean "zero" District residents who don't currently have a car would go out tomorrow a purchase a vehicle if Zipcar all of a sudden "vanished". People (see above) don't use Zipcar to get to work every day, so lets not pretend that giving away a public asset for nothing to a private company reduces the number of cars on DC street at all.

by freely on Jun 24, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

Falls Church, freely: Gabe Klein did nothing that added or subtracted from Zipcar's on-street spaces while he was DDOT Director. All the spaces they get were there before. DDOT basically did nothing on car sharing during his tenure.

by David Alpert on Jun 24, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

Where have I mentioned gabe klein in any post today?

by freely on Jun 24, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

@freely -- while I don't have a problem with Zipcar paying for the spaces, I didn't replace my car after it died because of the availablity of Zipcar, so you can't say that it reduced the number of cars on the street by zero. I probably would buy a car if Zipcar went away.

by Kate W on Jun 24, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

@Bob See And now another company will introduce price competition.

Put those two together: Zipcar's service has been, in my experience, great, but I expect it won't be like that any more. Cut service or raise prices? Most every business opts for the former.

Time for me to buy a car.

Let me see if I understand what you're saying ... essentially that the whole idea of car sharing only makes sense if someone else (i.e., the District taxpayer) helps foot the bill for you? I doubt that's the case ... and that buying a car will be cheaper for you, BUT if it really is, then buying a car probably would be the most efficient thing to do ... for ALL of us ...

by Lance on Jun 24, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

What about the Zipcars that are in alleys? A lot of the Zipcars (the majority, actually) in my neighborhood aren't on the street but parked behind houses in alleys. I'm assuming that Zipcar pays the houseowners for those spaces. Everyone comments as if Zipcar having to bid for the street spaces means that Zipcar will fall apart. But if the majority of their spaces are not public spaces give to them by DC, and they're already paying for off-street spaces, I don't see this as a major threat to their business model. Also, why would Hertz get in on it if car-sharing weren't a lucrative business? Please, spare us the Armaggedon scenario...the competition may be very healthy for the car-sharing business and it may actually lower prices. Don't run out and buy a car just yet.

by dc denizen on Jun 24, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

Not sure I understand the "foot the bill for you" argument considering the alternative to using a carsharing service is private auto ownership which is also using a street parking space in most cases. Are DC taxpayers "footing the bill" for me to park my car outside my apartment? I pay for my RPP but that's clearly not the value of the real estate.

by CBGB on Jun 24, 2011 11:48 am • linkreport

@Lance

Let me see if I understand what you're saying ... essentially that the whole idea of car sharing only makes sense if someone else (i.e., the District taxpayer) helps foot the bill for you? I doubt that's the case ... and that buying a car will be cheaper for you, BUT if it really is, then buying a car probably would be the most efficient thing to do ... for ALL of us ...

Actually that's not what he's saying. He's saying if competition ends up in reducing the coverage of service (or breaking it up so there are two companies but you only have a membership in one) and that ends up making zipcar less convenient, then it might be time to get a car.

He didn't say buying a car would be cheaper than zipcar. If you do not drive that often zipcar is definitely WAY cheaper than owning a car.

by MLD on Jun 24, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

freely: Sorry, that was supposed to be addressed to SAS.

by David Alpert on Jun 24, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

considering the alternative to using a carsharing service is private auto ownership

That's not true. You can also rent a car from DCA over a 2day weekend for less than 75bucks (taxes included).

I've never given thought to Freely's point that DC receives virtually no economic benefit from the zipcar service?

So please explain to me again why the taxpayer has to give extremely valuable public asset (according to GGW) away, free for nearly a decade, now for pennies on the dollar, when the District doesn't benefit directly, indirectly or via a GGW favorite "externalities"?

Seems like a reasonable question to me. Does anyone have an answer?

by HogWash on Jun 24, 2011 12:00 pm • linkreport

freely, if you opened the auction of these parking spaces to everyone ther is no way you'd get $3600 per space for them. That's not the market value of them for single car use. Only if the spaces are metered can you make that kind of money (and still they wouldn't go for that much).

Falls Church, I agree about the buses - the efforts taken to regulate them in DC far exceeds the cost they incur on on public space. But as for your other question "do you think the preferential treatment Zipcar has been getting all these years has anything to do with Gabe Klein (former DDOT Head) being a former Zipcar executive?"

Answer: No. They predate him as DDOT director by several years.

Bob See, Stupid move by DC. Free or very low cost spaces means car-sharing companies can expand coverage with minimal overhead.

It's an auction, they won't pay more for the spaces than they can afford.

SAS, But people are forgetting, Zipcar is a for-profit enterprise that is delivering returns for its shareholders.

Add them to the very long list of for-profit enterprises that get a subsidy from the city. And at least with this one, the city recoups some positive externalities - unlike say, baseball.

Most of these spaces are underused anyway - so there value as a community asset is negligible.

Government has a long history of supporting business and serving as an incubator for businesses. Perhaps you oppose that, but it pretty much means you oppose about 70% of what our government does.

"I want the price I pay to use Zipcar to be lower, so I am perfectly okay to provide additional stock value and profit to the shareholders of these companies."

No, I want it to be low enough that enough people join to keep the company viable. They are paying for the spaces -$200 a year is more than I pay to park all year. If we were to open the auction to everyone, as I said above, would anyone outbit them? I doubt it. I wish they would do that so people would shut up about it.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

People who live in DC who do not own cars also have a right to the value of the parking space that they utilize through subscription to a car service. Therefore, the actual subsidy to Zipcar for the spaces they use is not equal to the market price of the spaces. It is only the marginal benefit the company realizes through the value of the parking space that they would not pass on to subscribers if they were charged for it.

Anyone who believes that zipcar drivers should pay the market price for the parking space that they utilize as a car share subscriber, should also advocate for DC residents all paying market price for their parking permits. It's the same thing.

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 12:13 pm • linkreport

@ Hogwash, see above.

If we "give" parking to car owners in DC, why wouldn't we "give" parking spaces to car subscribers who are residents?

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

While I'm at it, there are other places where DC sells public space at a reduced rate or gives it away. Do building owners pay for loading zones? Do we auction off sidewalk space for cafe seating? Do you oppose those uses?

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

@hogwash; I'm sure the fact that the head of ddot had financial interests in car sharing has nothing to do with it.

Curios to know how much zipcar is paying for their garage spots

by Charlie on Jun 24, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

@MLD: Thank you.

@freely: "Any "for profit" business that has to receive $300K a year worth of free parking to operate, has a crap business model. The District taxpayers shouldn't be paying for the profit of zipcars shareholders."

What you think of their business model and reality are two different things. A potential reduction in profits coupled with competitive pricing will most likely mean cuts to service, reducing the appeal of car sharing. Individual car ownership wins again.

300k/year? That's peanuts for a city-wide transportation option.

by Bob See on Jun 24, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

I've never given thought to Freely's point that DC receives virtually no economic benefit from the zipcar service?

That's probably because it's not true. Even IF zipcar pays no income tax (a big if), they pay plenty of other types of taxes, and they employ a lot of people, partake of various services etc...If they aren't turning a profit, then they're spending all of their money - most of it here in DC. Then there are all of the people who've gone car light or car free. They now have money freed up to spend on other things - things that employ people here instead of cars and insurance.

Plus, they free up parking space. If every zipcar removes at least 1.000000001 from the roadway, then that is a net gain in parking space. And I suspect that not having a car or having fewer cars encourages more people to walk, bike and take transit - which carries all kinds of positive externalities.

So freely's reasonable question is actually not. Since the District benefits directly, and indirectly, from zipcar. Which is one reason why a very small subsidy is reasonable. Though I'm not sure DC could sell those spaces for much more than $200. A parking space on the open market in my neighborhood goes for about that much, or less.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

Charging zipcar for the parking spaces they use is the equivalent of taxing zipcar drivers for spaces that they would be given free if they bought a car.

The real loser here is the DC resident who drives neither a private car nor a zipcar. They pay for the upkeep of all these parking spaces, but realize none of their benefit.

It looks like parking permits are yet another subsidy for car drivers.

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

DDOT basically did nothing on car sharing during his tenure.

I've bumped into Gabe Klein socially from time-to-time and think he's a swell guy but it could be more than coincidence that DDOT took away Zipcar's heavily subsidized parking spaces only a few months after Klein left DDOT. I have a feeling that reforming Zipcar parking wasn't going to happen under his tenure.

If we "give" parking to car owners in DC, why wouldn't we "give" parking spaces to car subscribers who are residents?

That's a good argument only if we were giving Zipcar the type of spaces that would be free for car owners and allowed car owners to permanently reserve spots in their neighborhood.

Look, I understand the need to subsidize certain for-profit businesses that help with economic development and provide positive externalities. But, everyone should get equal consideration for a central pool of tax breaks and subsidies. It shouldn't be dished out haphazardly. Do subsidies for zipcar promote the common good more than subsidies for more grocery stores east of the river? Should we subsidize zipcar but not Chinatown buses? Only a reasoned analysis can answer that question.

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

Freely's questions is more than unreasonable. Do we question the economic benefit of private car ownership in DC?

I own half of a car, but I bike and metro to work, so the benefit of my private car ownership is exactly the same as that of a zipcar subscriber.

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 12:34 pm • linkreport

Though I'm not sure DC could sell those spaces for much more than $200. A parking space on the open market in my neighborhood goes for about that much, or less.

You probably mean that parking goes for $200/month in your neighborhood. Zipcar is paying $200 per YEAR.

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 12:35 pm • linkreport

but it could be more than coincidence that DDOT took away Zipcar's heavily subsidized parking spaces only a few months after Klein left DDOT.

It could be, but it isn't. The change here is Hertz, not Klein. Unless you can show me other cities where Hertz has been doing car share but were, for unknown reasons (Klein), kept out of DC. It's not like Hertz has been waiting for Klein to leave DC before starting car sharing.

Only a reasoned analysis can answer that question.

That's a whole other question about how we decided what businesses to subsidize and by how much. The whole system is a mess, full of haphazard choices and insider influence. But singling out zipcar isn't really fair. It is far from being the worst example and if a reasoned analysis were carried out would like still meet the standard. I'm all for a better process, but that isn't the system we have.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

That's a good argument only if we were giving Zipcar the type of spaces that would be free for car owners and allowed car owners to permanently reserve spots in their neighborhood.

What is the economic value of a residential parking spot versus a commercial spot? Even if they are different, are they always different to the same degree?

And even if the parking spots given to zipcar are somehow more valuable than residential spots, how can we calculate the marginal benefit of those spots per zipcar customer versus private parking? It seems obvious that the subscriber model for zipcar maximizes the benefit of the cars, and by extension, the parking of those cars, versus private ownership. That means that zipcar subscribers are still under utilizing their theoretical right to the value of a parking space equivalent to a private car owner.

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 12:42 pm • linkreport

You probably mean that parking goes for $200/month in your neighborhood.

No, I mean my neighbor rents his extra space for $200 a year. And he's lucky to get that. I have other neighbors who can't find anyone to rent their spaces.

You probably mean "I apologize for putting words in your mouth."

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 12:45 pm • linkreport

That 32 hour LA to San Fran article would be good...except it is written in the typical alt weekly over wrought style of a recent English major grad.

by beatbox on Jun 24, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

If we "give" parking to car owners in DC, why wouldn't we "give" parking spaces to car subscribers who are residents?

I'm not sure I understand why we are comparing a coorporation that owns a fleet of vehicles parked in numerous locations around the city to an individual who parks his/her car near their home.

A potential reduction in profits coupled with competitive pricing will most likely mean cuts to service, reducing the appeal of car sharing. Individual car ownership wins again.

Or is that the market forces at work? We do this conversation a disservice by intimating that the only alternative to car sharing is individual car ownership. Not when you can rent one for 60 bucks.

Even IF zipcar pays no income tax (a big if), they pay plenty of other types of taxes, and they employ a lot of people, partake of various services etc

Can't we make the same argument in favor of surface parking lots or garages? Providing people the opportunity to park also provides an economic benefit to the city?

Do we question the economic benefit of private car ownership in DC?

Don't think I understand. Do we question the economic benefit of bike ownership?

by HogWash on Jun 24, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

As far as the zero economic benefit goes, DC charges a 10% Rental Car Sales Tax that Zipcar users pay. Given that Zipcar also pays registration fess, then Zipcar users are paying significantly more to the city to use a car than owners of private cars.

by Kate W on Jun 24, 2011 1:04 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure I understand why we are comparing a coorporation that owns a fleet of vehicles parked in numerous locations around the city to an individual who parks his/her car near their home.

That's funny. I wasn't comparing the two. What I was comparing was private car drivers (with free parking) to subscriber car drivers (who will now be charged for parking).

Private car owners in DC enjoy the use of residential parking, while charging zipcar for parking would represent an unfair passed on cost to zipcar subscribers. Or are you saying that the increased cost for parking would be paid for with moneys from zipcar's profit margin?

Don't think I understand. Do we question the economic benefit of bike ownership?

no. It seems that the only mode of transit that we question the economic benefit for is zipcar transit. Everyone else is getting a pass.

by CJ on Jun 24, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

Zipcar people aren't producing taxable revenue in the District, the District doesn't benefit.

I have been a Zip car member for years. I rarely go to the suburbs. I zip car to the market/liquor stores in DC when I am serving large/holiday dinners. I zip car to friends houses for bbq's after picking up other friends who are not in convenient toppublic transport areas. i zipcar to the vet with my dog. I zip car to the groomers, with my dog. I zipcar to congressional with my dog. i zip car to go golfing at langston.

Zip car has ensured DC makes a good bit off of me.

by greent on Jun 24, 2011 1:17 pm • linkreport

$200 a year for a parking? Wow! Dreamy. But seriously, Zipcar is for profit but I (car-owning DC resident) think of it as quasi public transportation and thus deserving of 'cheap' parking space.

by snowpeas on Jun 24, 2011 1:17 pm • linkreport

Can't we make the same argument in favor of surface parking lots or garages?

Sure. But that wasn't the point. The question was 'does zipcar provide an economic benefit?' That surface parking provides an economic benefit is irrelevant to that point. I wasn't making a comparison

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Church; let's remember that for most of the last 10 years Zipcar has been embarrassing reminder of the DotCom 1.0 era. Do they provide a public service -- yes. Did they also look like a little struggling private company that deserves a few breaks to provide their public service -- yes.

But when you do an IPO, and everyone can look at the numbers, guess what? Time to pay up...

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 1:54 pm • linkreport

But when you do an IPO, and everyone can look at the numbers, guess what? Time to pay up...

Which is what's happening. They have to win the spots in a competitive bid against a competitor.

Does DC sell exclusive use of parking spaces to anyone else, and if so, is this out of line with those rates? What do construction companies pay to remove parking for a year?

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

@Kate W -

1. How often do you use Zipcar and generally for what reason(s)

2. @ CJ, I can't believe you don't understand the difference in intrinsic value between a residential parking spot in front of someones house, and a commerical metered parking space on M Street in Georgetown. Is that what you are really saying?

And CJ, you don't "get" the space for free. You pay for a residential parking sticker every year (unless you park on your own property and choose not to get one) so just stop with this "car owners get a free spot, why cant I". They don't, end of story.

I really shake my head sometimes at the level of cognitive dissonance by many here.

People will rant about why the DC parking tax isn't increased to 25%, why we aren't charging $20/hr for street parking meters in the towns most coveted commercial spots, and in the SAME breath try to justify why a private, for profit company (that you happen to like) shouldn't get those exact same spots for free! We just had a recent discussion as to why the bus companies (BOLT etc) should have to pay high fees to rent their drop/off pickup places.

So here it is with you guys... As long as the taxpayer is paying for what "I" like, then its fine, but don't expect me to admit it and/or get off my soapbox about what someone "else" likes.

Further more, a for profit company that needs those freebies to survive, or else they would go out of business (or so most think here) is ridiculous.

@David C,

See above comment for difference between commerical and residnetial space. Of course you aren't going to get as much renting your private parking space in some back alley as you are renting a private space in some downtown commercial corridor. PMI charges anywhere between 300-500 (a month) for a dedicated private parking space in a handful of their garages downtown so no, getting an average of ~$300 a month from a Hertz or Zipcar for prime dedicated on street parking places in the city isn't going to be hard.

@greent,

So you are saying that without Zipcar you wouldn't have

1. Bought liquor (ostensibly at a closer place)
2. Taken public transportation (bus/metro)to the vet or golf course?

I have an enormously hard time believeing that without zipcar you would be a house-hermit, never leaving your place to shop or for recreation and/or otherwise spending your money in the District. Methinks you would just do it closer to home.

by freely on Jun 24, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

Freely, I will admit that their is a wide variability in parking prices based on location. You've assumed that every space zipcar has is in a highly desirable location, and that just isn't the case. So you need to lower your estimate of the value of their parking stock. Also, a parking garage should be more expensive, since your car is more secure.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

@ David C; a very good question. I've been pondering that about the bus spot they gave to a construction company on M st in Georgetown. Causing all sorts of problems. How much is that worth?

In terms of comparing parking, you have to remember that a spot may not be sold all the time, so pre-selling it for a year (or 5) is worth some discount. However, clearly zipcar has gotten a sweetheart deal for a long time.

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

@KateGiven that Zipcar also pays registration fess, then Zipcar users are paying significantly more to the city to use a car than owners of private cars.

Is that a fair comparison? If we're talking strictly dollars and cents, I would imagine that there are far more car owners in DC who pay various costs associated w/owning a car than DC subscribers to zipcar. We can argue ad infinitum the nuances of which group represents a better economic benefit to the city and will likely still remain on our perspective sides.

I don't believe zipcar subscibers "double pay" in their benefit to the city. That is, unlike car owners, they don't pay for zoning stickers, registrations and the over 200p/month to park in various city garages.

by HogWash on Jun 24, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

Federal, state and local governments heavily subsidize private car ownership and driving, something that Lance and freely apparently prefer not to acknowledge. In their world, car owners bear all of the costs of car ownership and maintaining our elaborate car-oriented infrastructure while imposing zero externalities on society. Thus, for them it makes all the sense in the world to be apoplectic about a small subsidy to Zipcar and how unfair it is to the poor car owners who are deprived of access to less than one percent of the city's parking spaces.

(And don't give me the gas tax argument. The gas tax covers less than half the cost of actually building and maintaining highways, nevermind the costs of traffic enforcement, health care and lost productivity related to car accidents and air pollution, the other costs related to air pollution, the cost of electricity for traffic lights, water pollution from all the crap that leaks from car engines, military expenditures and lost lives protecting oil supplies, etc. The public subsidies for private car ownership and driving are almost endless. Anyone who pays income, property and sales taxes pays for all of that, regardless of whether or not they own a car.)

But who cares what I think. I'm not a real stakeholder...

by rg on Jun 24, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

@HogWash -- Since businesses pass all costs on to their customers, Zipcar customers are paying for all those things you (like registration and parking fees) that you said we don't pay for.

So yes, they are double paying. Now, that's not neccesarily unfair, but you can't say there is zero economic benefit to the city.

by Kate W on Jun 24, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Guys...for the last time

IT IS A FOR PROFIT COMPANY!!!

@RG, Yes, private car ownership is subsidized. But that canard goes both ways. Not only is Zipcar then getting the same subsidy that every other car owning American is getting (oil, roads etc), but they are then getting ANOTHER freebie in terms of free parking. If you are upset at the subsidies car drivers generally get, then you should be apopletic that Zipcar gets more...and its a FOR PROFIT COMPANY TO BOOT!

Everyone here would march on the Wilson bldg, torches in hand if the District let Budget Car Rental park 86 of their vehicles on DC public streets 24/7 free of charge, yet don't seem to get thats exactly what Zipcar is getting.

@Kate W,

And no Zipcar isn't passing all their costs on to their customers. 11 years in, an "eh" IPO and they still haven't made a profit yet.

by freely on Jun 24, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

86 spots (which seems low) x 3200 = 275,000 a year.

x 10 = about 2.7M

The clever way to do this would be for DC to have taken options worth 3 million at the start of this period, and then sell them. Anyway. That's probably illegal as well.

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

freely,

for the last time

IT DOESN'T MATTER THAT IT IS A FOR PROFIT COMPANY!!!!

Yes, private car ownership is subsidized. But that canard goes both ways.

You can't agree with it and then call it a canard. It's either true or not.

Not only is Zipcar then getting the same subsidy that every other car owning American is getting (oil, roads etc), but they are then getting ANOTHER freebie in terms of free parking

The parking isn't free, as you yourself noted. Zipcar is paying 8 times as much for their parking space - which admittedly is reserved, not shared - as others are for their parking permit. I'm not sure if zipcar is also paying for a parking permit.

11 years in, an "eh" IPO and they still haven't made a profit yet.

Then why are you getting so hot and bothered about the FOR PROFIT part. If DC is somehow getting scammed, it is the worst scam ever.

Subsidizing car sharing helps achieve some District goals - like managing parking needs in both the public space and by reducing parking requirements in zoning laws, making land in DC more valuable and improving quality of life. That's something I'm willing to pay for - even though I'm no longer a zipcar member.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

@David C: Plus, they free up parking space. If every zipcar removes at least 1.000000001 from the roadway, then that is a net gain in parking space. And I suspect that not having a car or having fewer cars encourages more people to walk, bike and take transit - which carries all kinds of positive externalities.

Spot on. I thought this site's readers cared about those things. Funny they don't mind getting people to shell out for bike lanes and streetcars, or several million to remove a road in Cleveland Park that really isn't a problem.

@freely: IT IS A FOR PROFIT COMPANY!!!

No shit. Maybe that's why it works?

by Bob See on Jun 24, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

There's no way those spaces are all worth $3200 a year. No way.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:23 pm • linkreport

@David C ; well, let's see.

Let's take the spaces downtown. What is the parking rate now? $2 an hour? Let's estimate they are used 10 hours a day, with the extended rates. Maybe a bit less on saturday, so let's go down to an average of 9. That is 180 a week, or 5600 a year. Throw in what you can get in parking tickets and I'd say closer to 6000 in revenue every year.

And mind you, if they aren't being used as much, we have a major failure of parking pricies per shoup....

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

That's a whole other question about how we decided what businesses to subsidize and by how much. The whole system is a mess, full of haphazard choices and insider influence. But singling out zipcar isn't really fair.

You're right, the system is a mess. So, seems like we should err on the side of limiting subsidies to avoid bad investments rather than throwing money around haphazardly just because some worthy investments will get made in the process.

Also, if you believe car sharing should be subsidized, DC shouldn't provide a subsidy to zipcar but not to hertz. At the very least, everyone should get the same subsidy.

Do building owners pay for loading zones? Do we auction off sidewalk space for cafe seating?

Commercial property owners pay more than double the property tax rate of everyone else. Seems like that should entitle them to some extras.

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 3:38 pm • linkreport

You're talking about metered parking. This is different. We could meter every space in the city, but we don't - so that's a subsidy to everyone else right?

This is reserved parking, so what would the highest bidder be willing to pay for those reserved spaces?

And how many zipcar spaces are downtown anyway? I know many are not.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:41 pm • linkreport

So, seems like we should err on the side of limiting subsidies to avoid bad investments rather than throwing money around haphazardly just because some worthy investments will get made in the process.

If you're saying "No subsidies for anything until the whole system is fixed." then say that. Not "no subsidies for zipcar until the whole system is fixed."

DC shouldn't provide a subsidy to zipcar but not to hertz.

They're not. The two will bid for the parking spaces. No competitive advantage.

Commercial property owners pay more than double the property tax rate of everyone else. Seems like that should entitle them to some extras.

That's a BS answer.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

@freely: IT IS A FOR PROFIT COMPANY!!!

Freely, you must be unfamiliar with the very long list of for profit companies that receive over $100 billion a year in subsidies, tax breaks, and other forms of corporate welfare. There's nothing unusual about subsidizing a for-profit.

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

Umm, most of the zip car spaces I see downtown take up a metered parking spots, not "free parking". I'd agree the math with zip cars in zoned residential parking is vastly different.

I'd say the majority of zipcars are downtown, although I know some of them are kept on private lots and garages. As I said, would be curious to know what zipcar is paying those owners.

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 3:49 pm • linkreport

They're not. The two will bid for the parking spaces. No competitive advantage.

I thought your whole point was that DC should continue the subsidy and not make car sharing companies bid for the spots, paying fair market value.

If you're saying "No subsidies for anything until the whole system is fixed." then say that.

While I'm not entirely opposed to that approach, I'd be tweak it to consider subsidies where there's a a clearly quantifiable benefit that exceeds costs.

by Falls Church on Jun 24, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

I thought your whole point was that DC should continue the subsidy and not make car sharing companies bid for the spots

You misunderstood. DC should set aside some spaces, as they've done, for car sharing; but should put them up for open bid to all interested competitors. Which is what they're doing.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

@greent, So you are saying that without Zipcar you wouldn't have:
1. Bought liquor (ostensibly at a closer place)
2. Taken public transportation (bus/metro)to the vet or golf course?

I have an enormously hard time believeing that without zipcar you would be a house-hermit, never leaving your place to shop or for recreation and/or otherwise spending your money in the District. Methinks you would just do it closer to home.

Metro to the vet? Bus to the dog groomers? Where in DC can I take public transport with my dog? You are really reaching here.

freely, methinks you asked a question, and I answered it. I zipcar in the city, so the city gets my tax money.

And to answer your question: yes, without zipcar I would not have been a hermit, but I would have been forced to have smaller gatherings, with more trips to less variety of stores, purchasing less items and less variety of items, and more than likely using cabs (as the packages get quite large and heavy when planning a dinner party for 15-20 people).

And those other people I bring with me in the zip would also take cabs, as they are not near public transport.

DC gets my tax money - and more places in DC get this tax money, rather than 1 store blocks from my house, because I rent zipcar. Your idea that all zips people go to the suburbs is ridiculous.

by greent on Jun 24, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

I'd be tweak it to consider subsidies where there's a a clearly quantifiable benefit that exceeds costs.

Such as car sharing.

by David C on Jun 24, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

@charlie
I'd say the majority of zipcars are downtown, although I know some of them are kept on private lots and garages. As I said, would be curious to know what zipcar is paying those owners.

Gee, wouldn't it be nice of there were like a map or something where you could see where the cars are instead of just pulling statements out of thin air?

Oh hey:
http://www.zipcar.com/dc/find-cars

Most of the cars are in residential areas, not downtown. They are all over U Street, Dupont, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, etc. Because people use zipcars to get from their home to someplace and then come back. They don't use them at work.

by MLD on Jun 24, 2011 4:12 pm • linkreport

@ MLD; thanks. I looked at the map too. Remember it shows zip car locations, not the number of cars. And by downtown I should have been more clear: Golden Triangle, west end, K st as well as downtown.

by charlie on Jun 24, 2011 4:36 pm • linkreport

Zipcar competes with other car sharing companies in numerous other cities -- and one key advantage they world over non-profit competitors in several (Chicago, Philly, SF) is that they are willing to pay more for parking spaces than other firms. Rest assured that they will not go bankrupt from having to pay parking fees.

Oh, and yes, of course residential parking permits are a huge subsidy to car drivers. Any preferentially priced parking is.

by Payton on Jun 26, 2011 12:12 am • linkreport

@ freely

And CJ, you don't "get" the space for free. You pay for a residential parking sticker every year (unless you park on your own property and choose not to get one) so just stop with this "car owners get a free spot, why cant I". They don't, end of story.

Freely, go here: http://www.chromjuwelen.com/de/component/content/article/247-blogcardomain/48921-ziptruck-in-dc.html

and look at item number 38. You can clearly see that DC zipcars pay for zoned parking permits if they are parked in street parking.

Yes, I pay for a parking permit every year. They are as low as 15 dollars. Excuse me for so horribly mis-characterizing that as "free."

by CJ on Jun 27, 2011 8:51 am • linkreport

David,

I honestly do not understand your post. Is it in defense of wasting one's time? If I had all the time in the world, I certainly would be more willing to waste it in transit, but I don't and neither do most Americans - hence, my point - why one drives or flies when going to other destinations.

It took 32 hours to go along local transit lines to get from SF to LA. Under your scenario, to go from LA to Boston, the person would never make it via local transit because local transit doesn't exist in a good portion of this country - and usually for good reason - no demand. Further, it took him 32 hours to go 400ish miles, a LA to Boston trip would be accomplished in just under 240 hours - good 10 days, if it was logistically possible using local transit.

Second, 999 out of 1000 people take trips want to get there fast - be it for meeting, social events, whatever. They also want to do it in a cost-beneficial way. Taking 32 hours fails in the first requirement and likely cost more than driving in the second.

Lastly, there is a vast reason that there are 260+ million personal cars in this country and millions of people fly every week. It is easier and cheaper and more flexible than taking Amtrak.

by Burger on Jun 27, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

Burger: This trip isn't a serious actual kind of trip. It's a frivolity. Local buses and commuter rails aren't meant to go from SF to LA. There are other transit modes that DO work for SF to LA, like Amtrak and Greyhound.

The person who came up with the trip wasn't suggesting that you would actually want to do it as an actual means of travel. It was a game, like figuring out if you can drive from one place to another only on streets that start with the letter "A". And the reporter who took the trip was also doing it as a stunt, figuring it would lead to a good story.

It's like flying cross-country in a stunt biplane. You can do it, but it takes a long time because you can't far without refueling or very fast. Someone might want to, for kicks, but we don't look at that and conclude that air travel from DC to LA is impractical.

I think we agree that this trip isn't useful for anyone who actually needs to get somewhere and cares about time. You're just drawing a totally unrelated conclusion about the usefulness of transit which isn't warranted.

by David Alpert on Jun 27, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

Car sharing is a public service, even more valuable than the on-street parking space it may occupy -- since each shared vehicle replaces an average of 14 privately owned cars.

Why should the District charge $400/month for a car-sharing space, but virtually give away on-street spaces to private car owners?? This policy is completely backwards.

by Clayton Lane on Jun 27, 2011 3:35 pm • linkreport

I thought I had seen it here, but I can't find it now, so I'll add it here:

Here's someone who did his own mini version of the transit-only trip between DC and NY:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/35550/the-third-rail-how-to-take-the-train-from-dc

by Lucre on Jul 1, 2011 6:29 am • linkreport

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