Greater Greater Washington

Oops, and a weekend open thread

A post accidentally went live this morning which was supposed to run Tuesday at the author's request. We have deleted it and rescheduled it for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Greater Greater Washington will also be off this Monday for Presidents' Day. Feel free to use this thread to discuss any interesting news and issues.

This weekend's Washington Post features an op-ed by Harriet Tregoning and Terry Bellamy defending the proposed new, reduced parking minimum requirements, as a rebuttal to last week's Sue Hemberger/Lon Anderson article.

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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Good on the column to provide solid numbers as to why socializing parking via zoning isn't as good of an approach as what OP is trying to do.

by Drumz on Feb 17, 2013 8:02 pm • linkreport

Can the smart growth set consider the implications and alternatives to another huge public subsidy to building a sporting venue to benefit private and rich owners? Reading the tea leaves, DC pols are moving to pay for land acquisition and major infrastructure upgrades to provide a 20,000+ seat dedicated/single use stadium for professional soccer. If the use Buzzard Point in SW, it is even more distant than Nationals Park from mass transit. Earlier plans included a good deal of underground parking. Ward 3 Council Member Cheh who opposed earlier baseball stadium and basketball arena give aways maintains resistance to paying for a stadium but would consider supporting land acquisition and necessary infrastructure investments..... Others are likely to follow their proclivities to shovel taxpayer dollars out the door to secure free nice box seating for themselves at future events as well as a pat on the head from the DC biz community.

by Tom M on Feb 18, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

I would submit that any use to the land in SW DC is subject to environmental remediation and infrastructure investments to have it become "productive". If it isn't a mixed use soccer stadium and office/residential area, it will be a mixed use office/residential area. Either way, it will require city investment. Why not get the benefit of a small stadium that can be used by pro mens and womens soccer, college and high schools, concerts and other uses that bring non-DC dollars to the city?

by Andrew on Feb 18, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

@Tom M, I have not followed the DC United new stadium saga much, but unless information has been announced or leaked about the possible costs to the city of a proposed deal for a new stadium at Buzzards Point, difficult for people to comment on or criticize it. A 20 to 25K seat soccer stadium should be able to draw some other soccer events, outdoor music concerts, etc so it would not be entirely single use.

As for Metro access, the proposed location looks to be about 0.5 to 0.6 miles from the Navy Yard station exit that serves the Nationals ballpark. Not super close, but that is a walkable distance. There are plans for a street car line to Buzzards Point as well. Maybe the construction of a second stadium in the area would be the impetus for building the street car line through there.

by AlanF on Feb 18, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

A follow-up question. If/when DC United vacates RFK stadium, what happens to RFK? Does it continue to crumble with ever fewer concerts or events held there until it is abandoned? or condemned as unsafe?

by AlanF on Feb 18, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

The Greatest Washington (nsfw lyrics)

by Kolohe on Feb 18, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

Love the Op-Ed, thanks for sharing! Set the right tone with just enough confidence (and maybe a little snark).

I think we are really fortunate to live in a city that has drastically improved transportation options through traditional transit, bike lanes, car sharing, etc and we need to update our regulations accordingly.

Another thought I just had on parking: What about limited DC tag only parking? Should be easy enough to enforce and would make sure that there is some non-zone parking in different areas still reserved for people that pay taxes in the district. Maybe within each RPP or other zone you could reserve 20% of spaces for any DC tags including of course people that had an RPP for that zone. Probably a bad idea, but I am just getting excited by the fact that there seems to be a concrete movement to rethink these "established truths" about parking.

by Alan B. on Feb 18, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

I have no real thoughts on the DC United issue, but I found this puzzling

" If the use Buzzard Point in SW, it is even more distant than Nationals Park from mass transit. "

Nationals Park is a short walk to the Navy Yard station.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 18, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

Plus a number of bus lines and OTHER Metro stations and thousands of residents and bikeshare stations/corrals (for big games), Walker.

Alan B., I guess it depends on how you distribute them. The new(ish) "RPP only" rules can even be quite problematic. I had a contractor in to do some work recently. He and his staff have DC plates, but don't live in my zone. Fortunately, the contractor himself came and went, staying less than 2 hours each time, so my ONE visitor permit was enough for the staff's truck, and I don't even live in an "RPP only" area (just a regular zone, where they get 2 free hours). If DC is going to keep moving to smaller zones and resident-only areas, then they need to establish a parking scheme for business people who MUST drive to and park at/near residents' homes. I'm lucky, I have an unused parking spot, so when my housekeepers come and do their once-a-year deep clean, and are here for nearly 3 hours, they can just park in it. But it's not really workable for more major projects where the workers will be hauling in heavy and bulky equipment and supplies (the door is in front and parking around back). And not everyone has or should be required to have an off-street spot for household workers. If I lived in an RPP-only area (and didn't have a parking spot, as many people in these areas don't), where would my housekeeper park for the hour-ish it takes them to clean my house on a regular basis? Should they not be allowed to do business outside of the area they LIVE in? Should *I* not be allowed to have people in to work on my home from time-to-time?

Other places I've lived with heavily restricted parking have allowed business people who need it to get permits to park anywhere, temporarily (plumbers, electricians, contractors, housekeepers, even landlords). Sure, if you're having major work done over a day or several days, you could do emergency no parking, but people don't obey those signs as well as they should, the police will not have illegal parkers towed from the no parking zone (they'll ticket them, but that doesn't really help when you need the spot), that's a lot of hassle if all you need is space for *one or two* cars or trucks, I doubt the police would be happy with me setting up a no parking zone every 2 weeks so that my housekeepers can clean for an hour, and it neglects emergencies (I can't give 72 hours' notice if my plumbing starts leaking and I need a plumber STAT). Just something to think about... unforeseen consequences of trying to solve a legitimate problem, and all.

by Ms. D on Feb 18, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

Ms. D, if you live on a RPP-only block, you would likely be part of the guest parking permit pilot program. My block is RPP-only on one side, 2 hour parking without an RPP on the other. We also have guest parking placards. Whenever I have someone come over, either a guest or someone to fix my washer, they use my guest permit.

So in your scenario of the housekeeper, for a less than 2 hour clean, they could easily park on the non RPP-only side, or use the permit. I'm not really seeing the huge problem here. Are there neighborhoods where all the parking on a block is RPP-only? As I understand it, only one side of a street can be RPP-only, the other side allows two-hour parking.

by robintaylor.graphics@gmail.com on Feb 18, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

Ms.D- There are guest temporary parking permits and they're for situations like you describe. The problem is right now you have to go to a police district to get one for 2 weeks. On Capitol Hill residents have annual guest permits.

DC will most likely move to coupon books or internet guest passes very soon. I had thought guest passes would be online by now.

And Expanded RPP zones still allow guest parking on one side for up to 2 hours for free. In Boston both sides of the streets are residents only.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 18, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

If we the taxpayers are going to pay the cost of land acquistion and major infrastructure improvements in buzzard point, let's move more than 600 people out of substandard temporary housing and put them in a decent, humane facility. That would be a LOT better than taxpayer money subsidizing a playground for soccer moguls and their well paid players....

by Tom M on Feb 18, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

Well, I guess it's promising that the commetariat here generally get annual placards they can make available. I get the same, but it has been widely regarded by friends from other, denser neighborhoods as an aberration available in only low-density neighborhoods. If it has, indeed, become city-wide, then that's a halfway decent solution (so long as the permit is stored in an easy-to-find location and the service provider doesn't accidentally drive off with it in their car). Yet, I've gone to visit friends in places where parking is tight and one side is RPP-only, and asked if they had a placard we could use, and they were like "a what?" So that leads me to believe that not everyone is getting those.

Since my local police station is not transit-accessible, I don't always know the license plate number of the car coming to provide the service, and rushing off to the police station for a permit when I've got an emergency service person coming in is not always feasible, yearly placards are the LEAST we can do. I still think it would be simpler to issue permits to certain service providers (those likely to need to drive to their clients) licensed to do business in the District that allowed them to park anywhere for up to 48 hours, if we're going to designate much street parking for local residents only...

by Ms. D on Feb 18, 2013 6:16 pm • linkreport

@Tom M, there is no reason there couldn't be a soccer stadium, 600 affordable/public housing units and market rate housing, in addition to retail and office space.

by Andrew on Feb 18, 2013 6:38 pm • linkreport

Ms. D, I don't have a car but I believe it's being piloted in certain areas before they decide if they want to roll out it widely. My guess is that they will expand the program since it seems to appeal to people and cut down on red tape.

by Alan B. on Feb 18, 2013 7:42 pm • linkreport

I continued to get the placards after I got rid of my car, so I don't think it's dependent on owning a car, while friends who have never heard of it *do* have a car(s), so it *does* seem that it is neighborhood - rather than car-owner - specific. I, too, got it with an explanation that it was a "pilot" program at first, and then they continued after a brief interruption after the first one (good for only 6 months) expired. It's not a *terrible* way to deal with the need for residents to have someone park near their home. But it's also more complicated than allowing people with service-oriented businesses to park, short-term, in resident-only areas as a matter of right. For example, the contractor's staff almost drove off with it in their car before I remembered I had given it to them and flagged them down to retrieve it. If my housekeepers had to use it, it's likely they'd forget to put it in their car from time-to-time and get a ticket if we didn't have "free" two-hour parking, or drive off with it and then it would be at least 2 more weeks before I got it back. I actually lost my first 6-month "pilot" permit only a month in, because I had lent it to a neighbor who *didn't* get one (she was new to the neighborhood) who had a guest in town, and it flew out of her window while she was driving along, only 2 days into her visit (7 or 10 days...I can't quite recall...necessitating a trip to the police station to get her a visitor permit...FWIW, I called 311 about getting a replacement and they said "nope" in so many words).

I support smaller zones and higher street parking permit fees, but, well-enforced, a 2-hour window (even during expanded hours) provides great ease-of-use for service providers and very short-term guests. The ability for guests and service providers to park near my home, short-term, is one thing I preferred about DC over other places I've lived with more restrictive regimes (where, sometimes, I couldn't even get picked up by a friend from another neighborhood- still a resident of the same city! - without risking a ticket). And in those more restrictive areas, they had permits for service professionals. One good example is being a landlord. My tenant never got a placard - it happens, she probably just changed her address after they were distributed for the year. If I needed to have someone come in to work on the apartment in an emergency where I couldn't get to the police station to get a visitor permit (which includes not only the police station being inaccessible by anything but car but ALSO not necessarily knowing the license plate number of the vehicle coming) AND I didn't live in the same ANC, the service person would have to risk a ticket to park near the building if it were resident-only parking. Good service people are already hard enough to find in DC, they'll be even harder to procure if they have to risk massive parking fines to do their job. I suppose there's *some* risk of abuse, but if you have to have a license to conduct certain service businesses in DC to get a "short-term, all-zone" permit, the risk is pretty low, while the benefits are high, if we want to restrict ever-more parking to residents only during ever-more hours.

by Ms. D on Feb 19, 2013 9:21 pm • linkreport

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