Greater Greater Washington

Looser parking requirements are no threat to DC

Apparently, a major threat to the District looms on the horizon. "This is a very dangerous proposal," the warning recently went out. "We think it threatens the future of Washington."


Photo by Skinned Mink on Flickr.

Terrorists? Hurricanes? Flooding from climate change? Sequestration? Meteors? Nonexistent snow? A paucity of decent bagel shops?

No, the threat is that the District might get out of the business of micromanaging the size of apartment-building parking garages. Run for cover!

The group warning of this looming disaster? An organization that you might give money to yet disagree entirely with its often extreme lobbying agenda: AAA.

Continue reading an op-ed Matt Yglesias and I co-wrote in the Washington Post.

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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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Thing is what OP is proposing doesn't even reduce the number of parking spots in the city. It just changes who decides the number of future parking spots (in certain areas, not the whole city).

by drumz on Mar 9, 2013 8:32 pm • linkreport

it seems they need to have the capacity for parking spots but they don't have to be set up as parking spots, if these were set up as Storage, and they let
the building owners convert these to secondary uses, or if they had them as
parking but put in a zipcar slot, perhaps these would actually serve as leveraged space for more then conventional parking.

by pat bahn on Mar 9, 2013 8:46 pm • linkreport

Here's a thought:

If an apartment or condo building doesn't have enough parking for your needs: don't live there.

by Michael on Mar 10, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

Indeed, a minimum requirement with no maximum provides the best of both worlds, combined with the observation of Pat Bahn.

Indeed if you ponder that, that would provide the extra storage space to better serve the arts ... and is most justifiable as a 'subsidy' for art space in a truly just fashion, as opposed to that sick joke of an eminent domain poster child now under construction by CUA..

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Mar 10, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

The real "threat" (if that's the right word) is that there's too much incentive for the development of parking especially at inside-the-beltway Metro stations where it makes the least sense. Just look at the recently developed area around the Rhode Island Avenue station. Two large above-ground parking lots (one private and one owned by WMATA)displace land that should more appropriately have been set aside for housing or park space. The same pressures are being brought to bear in force on other in-town Metro stations like Brookland/CUA. Smart growth? I don't think so. I call it "transit-oriented-parking". If anything, OP's proposal is too timid to tackle this phenomenon.

by Caroline Petti on Mar 10, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

Indeed, parking lots rather than garages-

- and garages designed with all of that dead space rather than sheathed in eyes on the street retail, like some that I saw in or near Portland during a mid 1990s visit.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Mar 10, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

The editorial doesn't seem to address the primary argument of the pro-minimum crowd -- that people living in buildings with less parking will be parking on the street rather than living car free. In Arlington, that issue is overcome by denying RPPs to residents of buildings like that.

by Falls Church on Mar 10, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

What's wrong with parking on the street?

by David C on Mar 10, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

But those street spaces are mine! If you want to park on the street you should go back in time and buy my house before I did.

by Drumz on Mar 10, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

Regulatory capture at OP.

Unlike smart growth places, it's all about giving developers everything they can for free.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 10, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

it's all about giving developers everything they can for free.

But shouldn't that be the default? I know the Supreme Court doesn't agree, but in a way, zoning regulations are "a taking". Now sometimes there's a very good reason to do a taking, so that's not necessarily bad, but shouldn't the default be freedom to build what you want on land you own? And shouldn't it fall on regulators to show why there is a compelling public need for the regulation?

While this policy is, in fact, business friendly, it also better respects property rights and individual freedom. You say "giving them everything for free" but the only thing we're "giving them" is what they already should have owned.

by David C on Mar 10, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

The point, not addressed in this editorial, is that removing this longstanding (> 50 years) requirement will put more pressure on street parking. It is a perfect example of the tragedy of the commons, which in this case, the "commons" is the shared street parking.

by goldfish on Mar 10, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

The point, not addressed in this editorial, is that removing this longstanding (> 50 years) requirement will put more pressure on street parking.

Let's not treat this as if it's a proven fact. This is a dubious assumption.

Also, it's not like the last 50 years, with this requirement in place, have eased on-street parking. If the requirement hasn't solved the problem, then why should we expect doom and gloom from removing it?

The solution on on-street parking problems remains on-street parking management. That's what will solve the problem. People may not like the solution, however.

by Alex B. on Mar 10, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

@Alex B:

First you write "This is a dubious assumption" but then you write "it's not like the last 50 years, with this requirement in place, have eased on-street parking".

You can't have it both ways.

by goldfish on Mar 10, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

removing this longstanding (> 50 years) requirement will put more pressure on street parking

Let's assume that's true (Alex makes a good point on this). Where is the tragedy?

by David C on Mar 10, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

I think the dubious assumption some people are making is that new residents in buildings without for-fee in-house garages will own fewer vehicles than the standard 65% of DC residents. If anything low-income and elderly are more likely to be car-free so I wouldn't be surprised if it will be over 65% as it seems to depend on income and from tax records there is a huge wave of new vehicles being brought into DC, probably by newcomers.

The standard smart-growth way of trading parking minimums for no RPP is the only way to effectively give preference car-free new residents.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 10, 2013 5:22 pm • linkreport

First you write "This is a dubious assumption" but then you write "it's not like the last 50 years, with this requirement in place, have eased on-street parking".

You can't have it both ways.

Sure I can. Those are not mutually exclusive statements.

Let's say we had an on-street parking problem. So we add a clause to the zoning code to require new developments to add off-street parking. And, after 50 some years, we re-assess. And we still have our on-street parking problem.

Ergo, our intervention (the zoning requirement) did not solve our problem (limited on-street parking). This shows how both of my statements are true (50 years of this on-street problem has not been solved by the intervention of off-street zoning requirements; thus the source of the on-street problem is something else).

It's really a simple proposition: if you want to improve on-street parking, you need to manage it directly. That means more aggressive use of the tools we have (permits, pricing, meters, and enforcement). Trying to manage it indirectly (through off-street parking requirements) both misunderstands the problem, and then tries to 'solve' it by addressing something else.

Indeed, I doubt the original crafters of the 1958 code expected off-street parking requirements to solve on-street parking management problems - instead, they were likely expecting such requirements as a whole to make the new city more attractive to cars in general. Now, we know the folly of this approach (we can't beat the suburbs at their own game - e.g. automobility) and the negative consequences it has for the city, so we want to change it. And we should!

by Alex B. on Mar 10, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

Let me state the obvious: ergo, the added parking from the zoning wasn't enough.

by goldfish on Mar 10, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

removing this longstanding (> 50 years) requirement will put more pressure on street parking

Let's assume that's true (Alex makes a good point on this). Where is the tragedy?

While "tragedy" is hyperbole, the issue is that existing residents will find it harder to park on the street. That alone is not an issue if it was for a good reason. However, the primary reason for relaxing parking minimums is to make it cheaper to develop new housing. Why would existing residents want to make things harder on themselves for the reason of making things cheaper for new residents?

I get it...these new residents are going to be car-free because they're living in a dense area of the city. If that's the case, why do they need RPP rights? Seems like everyone can win if the car-free new residents get parking-minimum-free housing and the existing residents retain their easier parking.

by Falls Church on Mar 10, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

"It is a perfect example of the tragedy of the commons, which in this case, the "commons" is the shared street parking."

the "tragedy of the commons" is that because the commons was available for free, its was overgrazed,and ended up benefiting no one as it should have. What happened was that commons were enclosed. What perhaps should have happened is that use should have been priced.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 10, 2013 5:43 pm • linkreport

Let me state the obvious: ergo, the added parking from the zoning wasn't enough.

But we know already from multiple cases that the parking required often goes unused! See DC USA, or the residential buildings around it, or plenty of other examples. On-street parking is cheaper, and people naturally take that option.

If that added parking is going unused, it obviously is more than enough!

Point being, if you want to solve on-street parking, you need to manage on-street parking. This will still be true if the zoning code requires 2 spaces per unit or zero spaces per unit.

What this reform to the code proposes is to let the market work. Better management of on-street parking would also be wise to take advantage of the market in achieving a better outcome for all users.

by Alex B. on Mar 10, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

The standard smart-growth way of trading parking minimums for no RPP is the only way to effectively give preference car-free new residents.

It's one way. It's not the only way. You could also raise the price of RPP to a level where car ownership remains flat or goes down.

by David C on Mar 10, 2013 5:50 pm • linkreport

Why would existing residents want to make things harder on themselves for the reason of making things cheaper for new residents?

They might not. But sometimes effective leadership means doing things that many (even a majority) of voters oppose.

So while current residents might oppose it, that isn't the relevant question. The relevant question is: Is this good for the city considering all of its goals? And the answer is yes.

by David C on Mar 10, 2013 5:54 pm • linkreport

David- It's perhaps not the only way but it's the most effective way and the only way I've ever heard of any place virtually guaranteeing car-free new residents.

I don't see RPP going up a lot but even if it did from what the tax office is saying about new registrations of vehicles the newcomers can obviously afford very high parking rates.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 10, 2013 6:09 pm • linkreport

What bothers me about this debate is the implicit assumption that new residents are less deserving than existing residents. That's now how democracy is supposed to work.

As a practical matter, going down the road of creating classes of residents makes for an increasingly dysfunctional civic society.

by contrarian on Mar 10, 2013 7:50 pm • linkreport

David- I enjoy your writing most of the time, but I think this one may be trading one extreme for another. Sure, we shouldn't be putting in unneeded parking lots where housing could be, but assuming the developers will meet market demand, like granite countertops, is pushing it. They will put parking in once a parking space is more expensive than an apartment. Perhaps this is the goal, to have a city without cars because no one can afford them, but I think it's a fallacy to believe this will make an impact on cost of housing in a city either way.

by Matthew on Mar 10, 2013 8:36 pm • linkreport

goldfish, what I don't understand is why you don't think we already have the tragedy of the commons problem, because the parking resource is not being charged for correctly. When you charge nothing (or virtually nothing) for a resource, people overconsume it.

Anyway, Alex B. argued the point and I have been saying too for years that DC's can't outsuburb the suburbs, we have to focus on and continue to strengthen our own competitive advantages.

and contrarian makes a good point--which is my concern--about creating separate classes of residents.

Anyway, I would be fine with giving up the parking minimums language as proposed in the zoning rewrite if residents in turn would agree to something like $50 or more per month for the RPP, and probably 1/2 that for car sharing vehicles (so the price would come down per hour for car sharing members), a parking tax on off street residential parking spaces, and directing the revenues to transit (and other transportation) improvements. Probably an increase in registration fees too.

by Richard Layman on Mar 10, 2013 9:09 pm • linkreport

@contrarian & Richard- By having any sort of planning or smart growth policy aren't you by definition treating future developments differently? And their residents?

In this case a building without either parking or RPP rights would by market have a lower price to future residents and those who desire this arrangement benefit. It's providing choice to choose this arrangement and there are plenty who would choose to do so.

OP's present proposal just benefits developers financially and it's highly unlikely any price benefit would go to future residents since they still have free street parking.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 10, 2013 10:34 pm • linkreport

"OP's present proposal just benefits developers financially and it's highly unlikely any price benefit would go to future residents since they still have free street parking."

It will enable more supply. As for demand, there are almost certainly people who would rather have a guaranteed spot, inside their building, than seek spots on the street. I am pretty sure SOME of the buildings with parking manage to rent out SOME spots for more than the cost of an RPP.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 10, 2013 10:40 pm • linkreport

@Walker- Parking is buildings is almost always rented out at market rates. Those market rates are usually below the cost to build them and well below what the developer could otherwise get for the space. So it is a subsidy or cost the developer will be relieved of- a huge windfall.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 10, 2013 10:48 pm • linkreport

So it benefits the developer and that's bad.

I get using the trade off for bike parking or car share but those could also just be mandated in the zoning rather than negotiated for.

by Drumz on Mar 10, 2013 11:09 pm • linkreport

And I don't think anyone who agrees with me doesn't think that the developer has no obligation to provide anything. Indeed I have a few things I'd replace parking requirements with.

So yeah developers may be getting off in one aspect but its only one thing and it has clear benefits to the city even if they let it happen unconditionally.

by Drumz on Mar 10, 2013 11:32 pm • linkreport

But those street spaces are mine! If you want to park on the street you should go back in time and buy my house before I did.

This captures the attitude perfectly. And it's absurd.

"I bought by 5 BR, 3 BA rowhouse in [insert neighborhood here] for $350,000 in 1997, and I never had any trouble finding street parking. My right to park easily on a public street must be preserved!

What's that? In the intervening 16 years, my neighborhood has blossomed and my property is now worth triple what it previously was, due in no small part to the new retail and residential development? Well, THAT change is just fine with me - it's the OTHER change (you know, the one where I'm not always able to park steps from my front door anymore) that myst be prevented at all costs. That's MY public parking spot!"

How can people actually make this argument with a straight face?

by dcd on Mar 11, 2013 7:45 am • linkreport

OP's present proposal just benefits developers financially and it's highly unlikely any price benefit would go to future residents.

So, the cost of housing is unrelated to the cost of production? How is that possible? Are you saying there is no competition for renters/owners, or that price is not a feature of that competition?

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 7:54 am • linkreport

My wife and I as well as our parents are appalled by AAA's anti-urban and anti-environment lobbying. Is there a good alternative to AAA for roadside assistance? I've found Better World Travelers, which the Sierra Club endorses, but I'm not clear if they have a very comprehensive network and have coverage to actually get to your car if something comes up. Any advice would be much appreciated.

by AGP on Mar 11, 2013 8:55 am • linkreport

"But we know already from multiple cases that the parking required often goes unused! See DC USA, or the residential buildings around it, or plenty of other examples. On-street parking is cheaper, and people naturally take that option.
----------------------------------------------------------

Building parking for retail and residential uses are two completely different animals.

While DCUSA (1,000 spots) was a little heavy in the parking requirements, it averages 350-400 cars a day with a peak of ~600, usage has been increasing and the only reason the rest aren't filled is because the city has been dragging its heels for nearly 4 years now in setting up a long term parking leasing.

Which brings me to my second point, you are wrong about the residential buildings in CH. The garages in the two residential buildings at the Columbia Heights metro (Kenyon SQ Condos and Highland Park Apartments are at capacity.

One would wonder why, considering both buildings are literally right on top of metro and at the nexus of 4 seperate but overlaping public transit options (Metrorail/metrobus/Circulator/Cabi. The answer is in direct conflict with the push for looser parking requirements.

by Anons on Mar 11, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

And I don't think anyone who agrees with me doesn't think that the developer has no obligation to provide anything. Indeed I have a few things I'd replace parking requirements with.

This isn't a bad idea. If parking requirements were replaced with an equally valuable community benefit such as a public park/playground, existing residents would end up essentially at status quo (losing one thing but gaining another of equal value).

Why would existing residents want to make things harder on themselves for the reason of making things cheaper for new residents?

They might not. But sometimes effective leadership means doing things that many (even a majority) of voters oppose.

So while current residents might oppose it, that isn't the relevant question. The relevant question is: Is this good for the city considering all of its goals? And the answer is yes.

This is the crux of the question. While existing residents lose out in this proposal, are they willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good? Or, should the city do something that's negative for one group of people to help the city's overall goal of creating more affordable housing? It's a similar question as to whether the city should tax the wealthy to fund more affordable housing. There' nothing necessarily wrong with that but one can understand why the folks being taxed would complain.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

This is the crux of the question. While existing residents lose out in this proposal, are they willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good?

They only lose anything if they have an RPP and street parking somehow becomes harder and nothing is done to manage the street parking.

Re: trading for community benefits. That's the thing. I don't want the city to trade for it necessarily. Just make it part of the zoning like you would the parking anyway.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 9:50 am • linkreport

Building parking for retail and residential uses are two completely different animals.

That's very true. Residential parking in DC is usually separately deeded. The parking will be sold at the price the market will bear and the owner will use it or rent it out. It will not go unused.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

Which brings me to my second point, you are wrong about the residential buildings in CH. The garages in the two residential buildings at the Columbia Heights metro (Kenyon SQ Condos and Highland Park Apartments are at capacity.

I'm glad that they're being used now. They were not before. And just because they are being used now does not justify the cost of building them in the first place.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/07/AR2009100703996_2.html?nav=E8

"We're spending an egregious amount of money on parking that's not necessary," said Brian O'Looney, an architect at Torti Gallas, which designed two apartment buildings in Columbia Heights, across from DC USA.

One of those buildings, the Highland, has been unable to lease a third of its 240 spaces, even as the apartments are almost all rented.

Among the alternative uses that have been considered by developer Chris Donatelli is a bowling alley.

"It would've been much simpler not to have built them in the first place," he said.

You also write:

The answer is in direct conflict with the push for looser parking requirements.

No, it is not. Build supply and you can induce demand. That doesn't mean that the answer is just to blindly build more supply without any regard to cost or cost-effectiveness.

The zoning requirement is like blindly adding freeway lanes in the hopes of reducing congestion.

by Alex B. on Mar 11, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

Another example from CH:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2012/03/21/park-it/

The problem with providing lots of parking is that somebody will usually use it, even if not the building’s residents, which makes overparking less of a financial risk. In order to shift that calculus, DDOT has started to recommend that the Zoning Commission prevent landlords from leasing their excess parking to somebody else (like Donatelli’s Kenyon Square does with Washington Hospital Center, a quick ride on the H line buses from the parking lot).

by Alex B. on Mar 11, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

@RL: what I don't understand is why you don't think we already have the tragedy of the commons problem, because the parking resource is not being charged for correctly.

Well, judging from what is like to park on my block, yes we do have that tragedy. OTOH given what the RPP regs are, the expectation of residents, the current politics -- namely, the ward level RPP fifedoms -- I do not see any major changes on the horizon. The real action at the ANC level, where the performance parking is ascendant.

Increasing the RPP price that is constantly mentioned here is not going to occur. The RPP is a fee; it is not a tax. Moreover, it is too cumbersome to accurately price the value of parking, which changes from hour to hour, weekday to weekend, be season, and when there are special events. Unlike a private space, there is no guarantee with an RPP sticker that you will find parking. The fair, market way to price this is an auction, which is too complicated to implement for this problem.

Compared to the other costs of driving, such as a repair ($500) or a speeding ticket ($100), the increase necessary to really discourage people from registering their cars will be at least $500. Short of that, the RPP is just a gouging tax on car owners. I do not think the DC government should be in the business of actively discouraging people from driving, because the public transportation system is not good enough to support that position.

I think @Alex B has a point that not every property has suitable geometry or geology for parking. But with the DC population increasing by 1000/month, these new people are buying property and registering cars, and housing development needs to support the cars these people are bringing with them. The tragedy of the commons occurs slowly, but it does happen.

Here is an idea: It has been pointed out that each parking spot costs around $30k; if 60% of the households have cars, then if a developer does not want to provide parking, then they should pay into a fund $20k/unit to build parking someplace else.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

"Short of that, the RPP is just a gouging tax on car owners. "

Why is charging existing residents of dense areas $100 or $200 for the privilege of an RPP unfair, but making it completely unavailable to new comers who if they own a car must then pay over a thousand to park, fair?

And of course its NOT a tax on car owners. Car owners in low density areas (assuming RPP boundaries are set more logically) will not pay it, and people who have an existing offstreet space, as many DC homeowners do, and as residents of condos and apts built with garages often do, will not pay it. Add those to the carfree 35% to represent existing residents who are not harmed (and who might be helped by reducing income, property, or sales taxes)

Its basically a problem for people who live in the areas where RPPs are most valuable, who HAVE cars, and who do NOT have offstreet spaces for those cars. I suspect thats a minority of the existing residents of the District. But a very vocal minority, to be sure.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

making it completely unavailable to new comers who if they own a car must then pay over a thousand to park, fair?

I agree that it is not fair. It is done that way in your enlightened suburbs, but thankfully not in DC. I think it would be mistake for DC to implement this.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

@drumz- When a city changes it's parking minimum code is the only time I know of when progressive smart-growth cities also bargain for benefits. It's nice to pay lip service to desirable items but this is put-up or shut-up time. Either DC is serious about getting progressive changes or this is another give-away to the politically connected developers with smart growth used as a cynical fig leaf.

Personally I think as bad as street parking is here and with the enormous potential pool of non-car newcomers, the Arlington way is the best. And it would be more likely to cause lower rents.

But the Seattle method would be fine too- substituting in the zoning code other transit items for parking minimums. Car-share spaces, bicycle spaces, EV stations, transit subsidies, etc. are common. In DC we have a lot of problems with buildings not allowing CaBi stations on DC-owned land in front of them and with new buildings doing away with bus shelters there too. Both of these could be "swaps" written in the zoning.

This change in zoning will be worth millions to developers on most projects and to give it away for nothing in return is outrageous; regulatory capture at best or typical DC corruption at worst.

Using smart growth as an excuse is an especially bad tactic. It makes people think that the crowd that calls itself smart growth advocates now is nothing but the same old pro-growth developer shills in drag.

Changing parking minimums zoning is the time when a city either puts up or shuts up about multi-modal options to be incorporated into new buildings.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

Either DC is serious about getting progressive changes or this is another give-away to the politically connected developers with smart growth used as a cynical fig leaf.

I mean, DC also has CABI, separated bike lanes, the coming streetcar, etc.

I'd be wary to label one thing that DC does or doesn't do as the totality of its commitment to smarter growth. Plus the zoning update may contain the provisions I mentioned earlier. I don't really know.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Changing parking minimums zoning is the time when a city either puts up or shuts up about multi-modal options to be incorporated into new buildings.

You know what would be the best way to encourage transit use?

A large, dense, building in a walkable neighborhood with good acccess to mass transit. And no parking.

Short of that, the RPP is just a gouging tax on car owners.

Let's have some perspective, please.

The current rate of $35 per year comes out to a whopping 9.6 cents per day.

We could make the RPP price $35 a month and we'd still only be up to a $1.15 a day.

This is gouging?

As for the complaint that RPP is just a fishing permit and doesn't guarantee a space: well, there's a reason for that - the price is way too low.

by Alex B. on Mar 11, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

Tom Courmaris: crowd that calls itself smart growth advocates now is nothing but the same old pro-growth developer shills in drag.

This has already happened on other blogs -- GGW is though to be in the pockets of development interests.

To accommodate the increasing population in DC, parking should be provided by new development. But this may not be possible or desirable at every site. So what do you think of my idea, that as an alternative to actually making parking spaces, a builder pays into a "parking fund" that builds parking garages around the city?

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

"I agree that it is not fair. It is done that way in your enlightened suburbs, but thankfully not in DC. I think it would be mistake for DC to implement this"

Hmm? Its done that way in Arlington County - do you know of any other suburban jurisdictions that do that?

I agree its unfair in Arlington. The right thing to do in Arlington would have been to price RPP's at the market rate. If and when there is a discussion of policy in Arlington, I will strongly support that. However Arlcos policy is still preferable to maintaining parking minimums in areas adjacent to metro stations, which would discourage the building of TOD, and increase prices of such housing, which would be even more unfair to newcomers.

It is indeed unfortunate that the ArlCo board defers as much as they do to the owners of older properties in the areas of north arlington close to the metro stations, who have already seen huge capital gains on their homes. One can only hope that will change in the future.

As one can hope that other suburban jurisdictions will adopt policies for parking that neither require needless parking spaces to be built, nor unfairly allocate on street spaces based on privilege.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

Increasing the RPP price that is constantly mentioned here is not going to occur.

I think you're wrong. The Mayor wants to raise it and I suspect doing so will be one policy to come out of the new Parking policy review

The RPP is a fee; it is not a tax.

This is really just semantics. It depends on the definition of the word tax. But it's a distinction without relevance. Heck, even you can't decide "Short of that, the RPP is just a gouging tax on car owners."

What is the difference between a gouging tax and a tax I wonder?

I do not think the DC government should be in the business of actively discouraging people from driving, because the public transportation system is not good enough to support that position.

Many trips in DC require neither transit nor cars and so you can discourage driving for some trips and not for others.

Here is an idea: It has been pointed out that each parking spot costs around $30k; if 60% of the households have cars, then if a developer does not want to provide parking, then they should pay into a fund $20k/unit to build parking someplace else.

And here is another idea. Since parking drives up the cost of housing by crowding out other uses, drivers should have to pay into a fund $1000/car to pay for affordable housing. Isn't that just as fair?

Or we could just pass a law requiring everyone to park on private property or at a parking meter. That would completely solve the problem.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

"So what do you think of my idea, that as an alternative to actually making parking spaces, a builder pays into a "parking fund" that builds parking garages around the city?"

why not an amenities fund, that could be used for parking OR bike lanes OR transit OR parks OR education OR affordable housing, as the district sees fit? If this is about offsetting the externalities of new development, that would make as much sense. If its about preserving the privileges of car owners in dense areas who do not have offstreet spaces, that might not work.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

We could make the RPP price $35 a month and we'd still only be up to a $1.15 a day. This is gouging?

If you lived downtown, it would be a bargain. But most people don't live there, and it is indeed gouging.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Plus, you can keep RPP the way it is. That's fine, I and others only bring it up as a way to manage demand for those street spaces. It's not directly related to minimums but when people cry foul that there will be no where to park then looking at RPP and how it should work is expected to be the first place to look.

So what do you think of my idea, that as an alternative to actually making parking spaces, a builder pays into a "parking fund" that builds parking garages around the city?

Or the developer could pay into a parks fund, or transit fund, or just not pay it and keep prices lower than they would be. Meanwhile we'd save on opportunity costs of land acquisition for a parking garage. Land that could be used for more housing, or a park, or some other use much more benficial to the city than a parking deck.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

price RPP's at the market rate.

How would you do that?

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

"This has already happened on other blogs -- GGW is though to be in the pockets of development interests"

if you are going to challenge peoples motives without evidence, you should be aware that there are obvious pecuniary motives for existing homeowners in dense areas to oppose new supply. I would suggest that civil discussion is more likely if we keep to the merits of the policies.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

The Mayor wants to raise it

A good reason to vote against him!

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

"If you lived downtown, it would be a bargain. But most people don't live there, and it is indeed gouging"

Why do RPPs have to be priced at the same rate everywhere in the district?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Why is downtown different? Why not just places that need more active on street parking management? Which is where RPP is needed in the first place.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

The original article that introduced the phrase "The Tragedy of the Commons" was an opinion piece by Garrett Hardin, based on an address that he delivered at a meeting of the AAAS. The full reference is: G. Hardin, Science vol. 162, pp. 1243--1248 (1968)--probably behind a paywall but try in an academic library. Hardin was a biologist, and notably, his piece contains absolutely no historical evidence that the "tragedy" he describes actually happened.

This is perhaps because scholars who have looked in to the matter have found no such evidence of the purported tragedy. (One paper specifically looking at pasture lands in medieval England is here). More generally, the 2009 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Elinor Ostrom for her extensive work showing that commonses of all sorts can be and are managed effectively at a local level. (A brief summary here.)

I bring this up, late to the thread and all, because if the "tragedy of the commons" were true, it would have a number of implications about governance that tend, among other things, to favor privatization, when the available evidence in fact suggests that other arrangements are more than feasible.

by thm on Mar 11, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

"price RPP's at the market rate.
How would you do that?"

hasnt GGW already had posts about how you do that? If not, they should.

are you suggesting its impossible?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

challenge peoples motives without evidence

This is a fact. Look over the comments on EMMCA, or Capitol Hill Corner, to name only two. Many people think that GGW is all pro-development, all the time, using "smart-growth" arguments as an (all-too-transparent) cloak.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

Why do RPPs have to be priced at the same rate everywhere in the district?

They don't. But again, how do you set the price?

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

How would you do that?

This is actually pretty simple using current technology.

When you buy an RPP you have to give your address already (and prove it I believe), so we should know the home address of every current RPP holder. We can then easily figure out the RPP density of any point in the city. And we can figure out the parking density too if the city has an inventory of resident parking with GIS information.

Using all that, we price any addresses RPP based on the ratio of RPP density to parking density around that address. If that is very high, your RPP price will be high. If it's low, yours will be low. We can adjust annually so as to keep the ratio below some idealized maximum. It's really not that hard.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

that someone on a blog makes a claim about GGWs motives without evidence, does not constitute evidence. Repeating a slander is still a slander.

if thats what you have to resort to, do not expect civil replies.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Isn't the hunting of 3 species of Bison to the level of extinction basically proof of the Tragedy of the Commons?

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

@AWitC: That is reality, deal with it. Many people think that GGW is totally pro-development.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

If you lived downtown, it would be a bargain. But most people don't live there, and it is indeed gouging.

How is 9 cents a day gouging? That cost is practically zero.

If demand for residential parking is so low that the price can be zero, then what is the problem?

However, if the demand is greater than the supply and the permit does not get you your spot, then that indicates the price is too low, does it not? And if the price is indeed too low, it is not gouging.

These kind of arugments are just as silly as the war on cars nonsense.

by Alex B. on Mar 11, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

@David C, I think of the passenger pigeon -

by Tina on Mar 11, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

Since "pro-development" is a term that can really only be defined by the person throwing the invective (ha!) it doesn't really bother me.

I think it would be a bad idea for the city to build a new stadium for the Redskins at any location. I'm anti-development.

I think its a bad idea to mandate parking which adds to the danger and environmental degradation of DC and harms other modes of transportation. I'm pro development and obviously being paid by someone to write this.

Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked. This proposal won't take away any current parking spaces by itself. The number of parking spaces in the district is likely to still grow. Just this time its figured out by the people actually building things rather than the government.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

And besides, in this city most of the housing was built by "developers" just some of them have been dead for a 100 or more years.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 11:33 am • linkreport

"@AWitC: That is reality, deal with it. Many people think that GGW is totally pro-development"

many people think that defense of the parking minimums, opposition to higher density at a range of locations including Hines, etc, is driven by people who want to limit supply in order to keep prices high, to increase their own personal balance sheets.

Whether thats true or not, is neither here nor there, as you point out - some people beleive it.

Now that thats out of the way, can you get back to substance, and refrain from repeating evidenceless accusations about motives?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 11:33 am • linkreport

Using all that, we price any addresses RPP based on the ratio of RPP density to parking density around that address.

Using densities defined over what boundaries?

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

@Anons

There are plenty of buildings that build more parking than they are required too. This just gives them an option to let the market decide. Parking is still going to be built...

@DCD

Spot on. I completely agree. This attitude of feeling bad for people who have homes that have appreciated 100%+ is absolutely absurd.

@Richard Layman

This $50/month fee would have the added benefit of almost completely covering the WMATA subsidy that DC pays every year. Commit 100% of the RPP increase to increased transit, and that starts to remove some further arguments about how people NEED cars. Mentioned on another thread, the reason this won't happen (unfortunately) is the % increase. This would be a 1500% increase, which just sounds and looks so bad that no CM will likely support it. The amount is just so low right now, that it is hard to envision it getting to an appropriate level.

by Kyle-W on Mar 11, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

I think it is fine to remove parking minimums as long as the lease stipulates that tenants will not own a motor vehicle during their residency.

by Chris on Mar 11, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

Chris: been there, done that. To make long story short: RPPs are distributed to car owners, not developers. Current regulations make RPPs available to all residents.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

@Walker- Personally I have no problems with market-rate RPP but what in the heck is that and how do you determine it and what is the proposal about to be voted on?

Most importantly, we do not have to re-invent the wheel; how do other progressive places handle it? I know Singapore charges a $50K fee to have a car to pay for it's external impact. That wouldn't work here because the overwhelming % of cars here at any time are from Maryland and Virginia. A London-type center city congestion driving fee would be more likely. But by all means, if you know of how another place actually deals with pricing RPP let's talk about that model.

The theory that growth is smart and therefore all growth is smart growth has been used as a rationalizing in DC since the freeway wars. Then the self-proclaimed "smarter" people knew that obviously the future was cars and highways and the opponents were NIMBY's looking to preserve their backward vested interests.

It's nice to say you're for smarter growth but the devil is in the details and examining how other progressive places handle similar problems is the best way to find a model that works. But when a potential change as important as what we get in return for parking minimums seems to do nothing but enrich politically-connected developers it just doesn't pass the smell test.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

The theory that growth is smart and therefore all growth is smart growth has been used as a rationalizing in DC since the freeway wars.

That's not what people typically mean when they talk about Smart Growth (or smart growth)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_growth

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Using densities defined over what boundaries?

Over a reasonable walking distance from the address. I don't know what that is, but I'm sure some expert could determine when people think parking is too far away. Maybe it's 0.1 miles. So, with that example, the boundary could be a circle, centered on the address and 0.1 miles in radius.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

Why is charging existing residents of dense areas $100 or $200 for the privilege of an RPP unfair, but making it completely unavailable to new comers who if they own a car must then pay over a thousand to park, fair?

Existing residents only had one choice -- purchase some place that abided by the parking min regulation and pay thousands of dollars more than they would without that min requirement. Newcomers could have two choices -- 1) the same choice that existing residents had or 2) save thousands of dollars in the price of their new home by buying a place that has no parking mins but then give up RPP rights. In this scenario, if at some later point they need parking, they can use the money saved in the purchase of their home to buy/rent a privately owned spot. That seems fair as there is no scenario in which they are worse off than the status quo and some scenarios in which they are better off. Furthermore, existing residents are no worse off.

While existing residents lose out in this proposal, are they willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good?

They only lose anything if they have an RPP and street parking somehow becomes harder and nothing is done to manage the street parking.

Street parking will become harder if more people park on the street which will happen if people buying no-parking-min units park on the street. If the idea is that those folks aren't going to be parking on the street because they're car-free, then they shouldn't have a problem giving up RPP rights.

You know what would be the best way to encourage transit use?

A large, dense, building in a walkable neighborhood with good acccess to mass transit. And no parking.

Exactly. Which is why the potential large, dense, buildings we're talking about should not convey RPP rights to their residents.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

"Personally I have no problems with market-rate RPP but what in the heck is that and how do you determine it and what is the proposal about to be voted on? "

the current proposal to be voted on is the new zoning code, which relaxes parking minimums in SOME parts of DC. Some people are objecting to it, because under current RPP pricing, there are externality impacts of new developments on availability of on street parking. Those can almost certainly be addressed by changes in the RPP program. What changes will be proposed has not been determined at this point. There are almost certainly many ways to address it. Whichever is chosen, it does not seem worthwhile to oppose the new zoning code based on an externality created by underpricing on street parking.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

That wouldn't work here because the overwhelming % of cars here at any time are from Maryland and Virginia.

But we're talking about residential parking, for which MD and VA drivers don't qualify anyway.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

They only lose anything if they have an RPP and street parking somehow becomes harder and nothing is done to manage the street parking.

Existing residents also lose something if street parking becomes more expensive.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

"That seems fair as there is no scenario in which they are worse off than the status quo and some scenarios in which they are better off. Furthermore, existing residents are no worse off.'

1. I agree that all are better off with the arlington solution than with the status quo.

2. There is some debate whether the arlington solution is legally feasible in DC

3. I do not agree that actually making no one worse off is required for a fair solution. Existing residents in fact are already better off then new residents, if they own, as they have the capital gains associated with the growth. Renters do not necessarily benefit from the low RPP prices, as that privilege will be reflected in their market rent - the privilege is in fact NOT one to existing residents, but to owners of existing properties eligible for RPP, in that sense.

4. the arlington solution does not address existing imperferctions in allocation apart from new construction - the guys storing his antique car on the street, while others circle to find a spot. New development is NOT the only reason to move toward market rate RPP prices.

5. Whichever solution for new construction is determined - the Arlington solution, or market pricing for RPPs, the bottom line is that the zoning changes should not be stopped or delayed - and that is what is currently at issue.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

David C: What I am getting at is that there will be discontinuities from one zone to the the next. These may be large.

The smaller the zones, the greater likelihood of overwhelming fluctuations. One block has a lot of cars, the next does not. How can you justify a 3-fold difference in price between adjoining blocks? On the other hand, if the zones are large then there are gradients within them. I have friends that live in an easy parking area in W6 that drive and park near the metro within the ward.

Although basically pricing by density is probably the right way to do it, this is not an easy system to design. And how do you set the final $XX/car/unit area price? The correct way to do it is by auction, but that isn't going to happen. It necessarily will be very complicated and open to gaming.

I do not think it has ever been done.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

"Existing residents also lose something if street parking becomes more expensive."

but thats $ goes to the DC budget, which can reduce property, income or sales taxes. Many existing residents will be net beneficiaries/

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

To "narrow the issue"- What should DC get in return from developers for waiving parking minimums?

City after city has dealt with this but I don't know of any progressive city that has concluded "nothing".

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

I looked at the Post article to find out about the AAA's extreme agenda, but didn't find much background there. Does anyone have a link to the AAA's statement?

by Chris S. on Mar 11, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

@Tom Courmaris: would $20k/unit do it? -- To be paid into a fund that builds parking around the city.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

Why do we need to charge developers for this pseudo-externality, when rents/prices for housing in the District are too high? Do those other "progressive" cities (Im not sure the criterion for progressive here) have real estate markets like DC's?

And if there IS to be a contribution to a fund, why limit it to parking? Why not fund other desired amenities? And why not charge more for RPP's and put that money into the same fund?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

Another option would be a one-time allocation of one or two grandfathered RPP's whose price will remain equal to the cost of administerng the program, with the remaining available spaces allocated by the market. The grandfathered RPP's might be given an expiration date of several decades hence and/or owners might be allowed to sell them back to DDOT at a market-clearing price.

by JimT on Mar 11, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

And if there IS to be a contribution to a fund, why limit it to parking...

There you go with that issue creep again. By folding everything else into a problem, is how nothing gets done. Mr. Courmaris's point is that the issue needs to be narrowed to come to a solution.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

@goldfish- I personally like to see each new building internalize it's traffic problems as much as possible on-site. Arlington's way is typical but providing things like car-share, bicycle spots, transit subsidies, bike share stations etc. like Seattle is also fine.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

"There you go with that issue creep again. By folding everything else into a problem, is how nothing gets done. Mr. Courmaris's point is that the issue needs to be narrowed to come to a solution."

Im sure he can speak for himself.

I doubt that building more parking spots is at all a priority for DC right now so dedicating revenues to it seems like folly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

@Tom Courmaris: the problem I have with Arlington's solution is that it does not provide a way to increase the supply. If DC is to grow to 800,000 to 1,000,000 residents, more parking is needed. That the public transportation system is not good enough to provide for all trips within DC, and probably won't ever be.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

"I personally like to see each new building internalize it's traffic problems as much as possible on-site"

And how do we internalize the traffic impact of residences that are were built before the parking minimum, with no off street spots? Should they also contribute in like manner?

Pricing an externality is a good idea - but pricing a non externality as if it were an externality will lead to suboptimal production of a good - in this case it will slow production at the margin of new housing - aggravating affordability problems, and leading more people to live in places where they will not only own cars, but will likely drive them more miles then they would if they lived in DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

G-D. re the comment about an "amenities fund"... this is why for I am not sure how long (6 years or 8 years) I've been arguing for the creation of "transportation management districts" -- NOT PARKING DISTRICTS -- to coordinate sytematic transportation demand management within designated areas.

One of the reason that I have not been particularly impressed with the "Performance" Parking Program, is that while it does fund transpo improvements--not just parking--it doesn't do it with a systematic plan and program in place. I am still somewhat shocked about this. (But not surprised.)

DDOT's various planning initiatives tend to not capture and systematize best practice, even if there are some best practice initiatives here and there.

But the parking minimums thing is a different matter from other transportation requirements. One of the reasons I argue for robust requirements of all types is to ensure that sustainable mobility is achieved. (More on this in an entry in my blog in the next day or two.) That means bike parking, it means different requirements for bike parking in different parts of the city based on density and opportunity for trip capture, it means, somewhat, e-car charging, it means TDM, it means programming, it means transit benefits, etc.,

2. SPEAKING OF NOT CAPTURING BEST PRACTICE, in the blog entry in Dec. where I listed a couple dozen best practices from around North America, I mentioned how (a.) Toronto charges three different rates, depending on whether or not the dwelling unit has on-premise parking and the number of vehicles and (b.) how Vancouver and Seattle charge different rates depending on the demand and inventory in particular neighborhoods (the rates are still nothing like Toronto's). Obviously that's what we ought to do here. In neighborhoods like mine, likely a minimal charge. In the core it's a different story.

Kyle W -- yep, put the $ in transit improvements.

Tom C. -- yep, given that surrounding jurisdictions don't charge huge huge fees (but some do charge pers. property taxes on cars) for registration unlike your Singapore ex. and note that the Netherlands does something similar, and in Copenhagen I think you have to wait two years before you can apply for a parking permit for the core, DC can't really do anything like that. But it can start charging more for RPP.

wrt congestion charges, for similar reasons I don't think we need one, 1. the worst congestion is mostly outside of the city. 2. even enlightened places like Arlington would turn around and use a congestion charge in the city to market against DC and poach commercial tenants. 3. the problem isn't so much cars coming into the city and then leaving (although it isn't great), it's that we have a limited inventory of parking spaces and we have to send better price signals so that demand and supply are in better balance.

A congestion charge doesn't do that, increasing the RPP price in the highest demand areas does. And since "Performance" Parking doesn't do that, it's why I am derisive of it.

3. Note that I am no longer against creating a system of municipal parking facilities, but the fees would be significant, a lot higher than people realize. Note that in Montgomery County in Silver Spring, I think the monthly permit fee at parking structures is a bit more than $100/month.

The real issue is that the private parking operators would lobby Congress very hard to prevent DC from doing that, which is why DC doesn't have municipal parking facilities in the first place.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2008-08-15/news/36801174_1_civic-leader-private-firms-real-estate

by Richard Layman on Mar 11, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

If DC is to grow to 800,000 to 1,000,000 residents, more parking is needed.

And more will likely be built. Not every new building will be in the parking minimum free zone nor does the zone prohibit the building of parking anyway.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

"@Tom Courmaris: the problem I have with Arlington's solution is that it does not provide a way to increase the supply. If DC is to grow to 800,000 to 1,000,000 residents, more parking is needed. That the public transportation system is not good enough to provide for all trips within DC, and probably won't ever be."

All trips being on transit is a straw man. All thats needed is not to significantaly increase VMT from what it is currently. That may well be possible, with A. More and better transit B. More units close to transit C. More walking and biking to destinations

Note that is arlingtons strategy, as it grows, not increasing supply of parking.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

good point, Drumz.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

What I am getting at is that there will be discontinuities from one zone to the the next.

There are no zones. You pay a rate that let's you park within a certain distance of your home. Your zone is unique to your home. Licence plate readers and GPS can let parking enforcement know who is parking within range and who is not. You'll get a map with your RPP that shows you where you can park (and there will surely be apps to help).

One block has a lot of cars, the next does not. How can you justify a 3-fold difference in price between adjoining blocks?

I doubt it would be 3 fold from one block to the next, but the justification is that many more people want to park on one block than on the other. It's the same justification for differening home prices block to block.

On the other hand, if the zones are large then there are gradients within them.

Again, there are no zones.

I have friends that live in an easy parking area in W6 that drive and park near the metro within the ward.

Then they are destroying America and you should get new friends.

Although basically pricing by density is probably the right way to do it, this is not an easy system to design.

Sure it is. I just designed in over the course of one morning.

And how do you set the final $XX/car/unit area price?

Research. Polling. Trial and error.

It necessarily will be very complicated and open to gaming.Complicated? No. Gaming? Of course. Everything is gamed.

I do not think it has ever been done.

Probably not. But that doesn't mean it is hard.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

drumz: that is beside the point. The issue at hand is what should developers provide in exchange to waive the parking minimums?

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

something other than parking, seems to me - something the district WANTS. Bike lanes. education spending. whatever.

not a fund for govt provided parking, which may not be needed at all, given that most incremental trips will be by transit, walking, and biking, and that there will be parking spaces built by the private sector, including in places where there is no parking minimum.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

City after city has dealt with this but I don't know of any progressive city that has concluded "nothing".

Los Angeles in 1999. In fact they had two other give-aways that went with it. What happened?

"I find that when parking requirements are removed, developers provide more housing and less parking, and also that developers provide different types of housing: housing in older buildings, in previously disinvested areas, and housing marketed toward non-drivers. This latter category of housing tends to sell for less than housing with parking spaces. The research also highlights the importance of removing not just quantity mandates but locational mandates as well. Developers in dense inner cities are often willing to provide parking, but ordinances that require parking to be on the same site as housing can be prohibitively expensive."

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

something the district WANTS

The "district" wants lots of different things -- better education, equal justice under the law, world peace. What it gets in exchange for dropping parking minimums should be tied to parking.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

@goldfish- There are plenty of potential residents of car-free buildings as Arlington has found. It's probably a bigger pool in central DC. Especially if the rents are lower because there's no eligibility to park a car period. I'd rather decrease demand for parking.

The way this will play out in the future is that buildings over 6 stories which have to be concrete will still need excavation for a footing and will turn into awful underground garages. They'll only have to be 1 floor deep though instead of 2 so there will probably still be parking for about 50% of units at 7 or 8 stories, smaller % in taller buildings. So in the central city it may not be a huge effect. However, in areas where 6 stories or less is common I don't see why financially a developer would in the future put any parking in. Especially since these areas are where there's still a fair amount of RPP on-street parking spaces available. So the slightly less dense parts of DC will probably get hammered by new construction putting most of future residents' parking on the street.

I live in a dense area where street RPP parking is virtually impossible most hours. Our concern is with DDOT's recent practice, which you alerted me to here, of giving RPP to commercial zones to park in residential zones. In my block that will double the RPP-eligible households next month when a new building opens. The traffic (and fights and noise) resulting from the nightly circling frenzy is already bad.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

@RL: "L.B. Doggett Jr.; Parking Tycoon..."

Interesting point; apparently you think this lobbying was decisive. It may turn out differently if the property developers are divided from the parking lot owners by this issue.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

What it gets in exchange for dropping parking minimums should be tied to parking.

One person's opinion. Others might think that since the reason for getting rid of parking minimums in the first place is to discourage car use in favor of other forms of transportation, that we just MIGHT want to have the giveaway be something that makes those other forms of transportation more desirable. Of course that is tied to parking; the more people using other modes the more parking spaces freed up for your use!

by MLD on Mar 11, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

"The "district" wants lots of different things -- better education, equal justice under the law, world peace. What it gets in exchange for dropping parking minimums should be tied to parking."

Im thinking of things the district can buy for $$. Which includes lots of things other than parking.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

@DavidC- I read through the LA paper but it seems to speak of free parking included in price rather than market-rate pricing like we usually have in DC. Anyway I gave up on the paper when I reached ""Converted back into dollars, these coefficients suggest that a condo without parking sells for about $31,000 less than condos with parking, while a condo with no parking spaces sells for about $15,000 less than a unit with one parking space, holding other factors constant."" They need a proof-reader.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

The issue at hand is what should developers provide in exchange to waive the parking minimums?

Literally anything, or nothing. I don't really care. I think removing the requirement of a minimum of parking is intrinsically good for the city.

If other things are mandated by the zoning that could be a de facto trade off and it might be great but it's not like it has to be negotiated through every project.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

"Converted back into dollars, these coefficients suggest that a condo without parking sells for about $31,000 less than condos with parking, while a condo with no parking spaces sells for about $15,000 less than a unit with one parking space, holding other factors constant."" They need a proof-reader. "

why? its possible that condos there average slightly over two spaces per unit.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

@MLD: ...And these other things could be provided. It is not up to the developers to decide on how the money contributed to a "parking minimum fund" gets spent.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

From the Post article:

"Cars are useful, which is exactly why many people pay a lot of money to own one. Parking spaces are also useful, and whatever rules the city adopts, developers will surely choose to provide some — just as many homes have granite countertops, hardwood floors or other desirable extras."

Cars are not a luxury item (at least not since the 70s), and many people do not and cannot afford to pay large sums to own them. One can see many beat-up old Corollas and so forth on area streets.

"But it’s also a simple and low-cost way to address the pressing threat that the city’s most desirable neighborhoods won’t be able to accommodate the people who want to live in them."

Perhaps increasing congestion and reducing parking would have an impact on the desirability of those neighborhoods.

by Chris S. on Mar 11, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

Cars are not a luxury item (at least not since the 70s), and many people do not and cannot afford to pay large sums to own them. One can see many beat-up old Corollas and so forth on area streets.

Cars are absolutely a luxury item if you live in DC. That you can see beat-up Corollas is as relevant as the fact that many poor people have cable.

by oboe on Mar 11, 2013 2:32 pm • linkreport

Tom I think they're comparing (1) the price of a condo in a building with parking to one in a building without and (2) a condo with a parking space dedicated to it to one without. But that could be clearer.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

@Tom C. - Can you describe what this means?
...giving RPP to commercial zones to park in residential zones. In my block that will double the RPP-eligible households next month when a new building opens.

Does it mean that people other than residents can buy RPP stickers? Does it mean that the RPP only has been eliminated? Meters installed on blocks that used to be RPP restricted? What is the change specifically?

by Tina on Mar 11, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

Also, I found that in like 4 minutes, so if you really want to find more information on it, you should do something other than ask us to be your research assistants.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

@Chris S Cars are not a luxury item (at least not since the 70s), and many people do not and cannot afford to pay large sums to own them.

I personally see this as a compelling reason to demand transportation infrastructure networks & priorities that don't force individuals to purchase and maintain a car.

by Tina on Mar 11, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

@goldfish
...And these other things could be provided. It is not up to the developers to decide on how the money contributed to a "parking minimum fund" gets spent.

Ahh, ok, so your point is not:
"would $20k/unit do it? -- To be paid into a fund that builds parking around the city."

Got it. Might help if you were a bit clearer instead of saying "a fund that builds parking around the city" if you want to say "a fund for transportation improvements."

by MLD on Mar 11, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

@Tina- Since RPP in DC started it was assumed it applied to parking in residential zones and not commercial. Commercial zones in DC usually have parking meters and residents moving into buildings in them knew they were not in a RPP block. In Boston commercial streets are included in RPP zones and therefore only residents can park on them (on both sides). As recently as 2 years ago DDOT testified in a zoning hearing on a new building at the end of our block that is in the commercial zone (and has parking meters) that it would not be eligible for RPP. Now they say it is.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

"I personally see this as a compelling reason to demand transportation infrastructure networks & priorities that don't force individuals to purchase and maintain a car."

Sounds great to me. Build a killer transit system and then the government will be awash in unused street parking. But that is probably in the distant future, so for now many need to drive.

by Chris S. on Mar 11, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

@Tom C. Thank you

by Tina on Mar 11, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

But that is probably in the distant future, so for now many need to drive.

But you're not going to get there by mandating parking spaces.

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

@MLD: I think if such a fund were set up, what projects it could support would have to be limited to something closely related to parking. This is akin to the highway trust fund. Otherwise it looks just like general taxes, which undermines its support -- look what holy hell gets raised with that money is spent on something else, such as public transportation.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

"Otherwise it looks just like general taxes, which undermines its support "

I would suggest that mandating it be spent on parking structures, in a city that already has 35% of households carfree, that has many other households who have offstreet parking, or live in areas where parking is not particularly a problem, would be most likely to undermine support.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

@DavidC- It isn't just that the LA paper was hard to read, but most important it isn't clear whether they are talking about parking included for free or parking available at market rate. Most importantly for a comparison with DC, they don't mention whether on-street parking is available for free.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

Didn't DDOT have a separate fund that the current administration folded back into the general? Maybe it is time to revisit that.

by Andrew on Mar 11, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

@ Chris S. that is probably in the distant future

How do you think it got to be this way? You know, that we're so dependent on cars for primary transportation? It started in the 'distant' past with consistent changes over time aimed at a distinct set of priorities.

"The time is upon us. Today is forever. Tomorrow is just one of yesterday's dreams." John Denver

"Even the longest journey must begin where you stand." Lao-tzu

by Tina on Mar 11, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: The number I picked, $20k, has been reduced from the cost of providing new parking (about $30k) by the amount of car-free households (66%) -- i.e., $30k*0.66 = $20k. So the car-free factor has been included.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

huh? Im asking why someone who lives in some old DC building, who is carfree, would want money charged to new developers to go into a fund to build parking garages rather than other things the district needs? Why would someone who has an offstreet space want that? Why would someone who lives in a part of the district where on street parking is easy want that?

Seems like this is just addressing concerns of the folks in existing residences without offstreet parking in dense areas, who (while accepting the changes that made their homes much more valuable) are unhappy with the changes that are making parking more difficult. I can't see the city proiritizing those needs over, say, job training or education.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

Yeah, that assumes that it's in the city's best interests to be providing parking. It's not and if it was then there wouldn't be the suggestion to remove the minimums. Creating a parking fund just moves the location of the parking (which in turn is an opportunity cost for that new location).

by drumz on Mar 11, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

@DavidC- I searched on the LA parking minimum thing and it seems the new code, going into effect this Wednesday, waives up to 30% of minimums in commercial, and up to 15% in high-transit residential zones in return for providing bicycle parking corrals.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

Seems like this is just addressing concerns of the folks in existing residences without offstreet parking in dense areas, who (while accepting the changes that made their homes much more valuable) are unhappy with the changes that are making parking more difficult. I can't see the city proiritizing those needs over, say, job training or education.

There it is, perfectly stated, with one quibble: I can't see the city prioritizing those needs at all.

by dcd on Mar 11, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

goldfish, obviously LB Doggett _and others_ were successful, because DC has not constructed any municipal parking garages, although the push for it would have been pre-1970 mostly.

2. AWITC -- NO NO NO. Making all the money from RPP go to parking structures as you suggest absolutely proves the point I make about the need to create _transportation_ management districts, not parking districts.

FWIW, most places don't have the capacity for this (except in interior of rowhouse blocks, sometimes). And DDOT and DC should have pushed in this direction years ago, because we don't have a coordinated system of adding to parking inventory strategically as new buildings are constructed. If people want to go the Montgomery County route($123/mo., Silver Spring; $150/mo. Bethesda -- with a wee bit of discount for residents, at least in Silver Spring)

http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpktmpl.asp?url=/content/dot/parking/Silver-Spring/silver-spring-rates.asp

by Richard Layman on Mar 11, 2013 4:44 pm • linkreport

"AWITC -- NO NO NO. Making all the money from RPP go to parking structures as you suggest absolutely proves the point I make about the need to create _transportation_ management districts, not parking districts."

i've never suggested that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

@ Chris C "Perhaps increasing congestion and reducing parking would have an impact on the desirability of those neighborhoods."

Like Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Logan Circle? Yeah, those places are so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.

by Esmeralda on Mar 11, 2013 5:27 pm • linkreport

@Esmeralda - It's already a major pain driving/parking around those places. I hate to think what impact a decade of new condo construction with no parking would have.

by Chris S. on Mar 11, 2013 6:32 pm • linkreport

@Esmerald- Indeed a Lot of people have stopped going to Adams-Morgan as it's continued it's nice restaurant-to nice bar-to crummy bar downward spiral. And the few nice cafes there aren't worth dealing with the hassle, expensive new streetscape not withstanding.

In Dupont/Logan we're still at the high end with nice cafes and nice bars and we do have two Metro stops and plenty of cabs so cars aren't necessary. We're tops for beautiful-person-watching right now, maybe tied with Georgetown. But people are already starting to say they'd rather visit here than live here and that's the first alarm sign.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 11, 2013 6:58 pm • linkreport

Parking availability can't help your opinion of the crowds of a neighborhood.

by Drumz on Mar 11, 2013 7:04 pm • linkreport

@2:58?

by Richard Layman on Mar 11, 2013 8:55 pm • linkreport

Im asking why someone who lives in some old DC building, who is carfree, would want money charged to new developers to go into a fund to build parking garages rather than other things the district needs?

Out of purely selfish reasons, sure a person would not care if money changes hands between some developers and the DC government. But I think everybody recognizes that we all depend on the transportation system for delivery of the goods and services we buy and depend on, which includes parking.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 9:02 pm • linkreport

I fail to see how devoting funds to parking garages aids the transportation of goods and services. Funding a course for underprivileged district children to become truck mechanics probably does more.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 9:05 pm • linkreport

RL

I was explaining the political absurdity of a proposal by goldfish.

I am dubious of his proposed fee on developers who provide less than some minimum # of parking spaces. I think his notion of dedicating it to parking is both bad policy, and that it would undermine whatever political support such a fee had.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2013 9:10 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: I fail to see how devoting funds to parking garages aids the transportation of goods and services.

Huh? Surely you realize the entire economy depends on transportation, part of which is people getting to work. For those that drive, they need to park. The work done in DC is largely based on professional services -- lawyers, dentists, doctors, consultants, lobbyist etc. that all drive. Also, most of the retail business that makes the city lively depends on people driving to shops and restaurants. Most of them park on my block on Saturdays and Sundays, which I am sure those shopkeepers appreciate.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 9:29 pm • linkreport

I was explaining the political absurdity of a proposal by goldfish.

35% is not the majority. Most people need cars.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 9:32 pm • linkreport

For those that drive, they need to park.

That's not what residential parking is for.

The work done in DC is largely based on professional services -- lawyers, dentists, doctors, consultants, lobbyist etc. that all drive.

All of them? Surely it's not all of them.

Also, most of the retail business that makes the city lively depends on people driving to shops and restaurants.

That's not what residential parking is for.

by David C on Mar 11, 2013 9:46 pm • linkreport

Good to know that nothing about this takes away parking spaces.

by Drumz on Mar 11, 2013 10:07 pm • linkreport

Here is a question that I haven't seen addressed, why does so much of the city need RPP. It seems in the vast majority of the residential areas of the city it just isn't needed. Yes in areas near metros it may be, and in areas like Dupont, etc, but why does so much of my neighborhood in Brookland need them? My block is the only one in the area that doesn't have one (I assume it has to do with the two churches on my block) and other than Sundays, there is no trouble with parking.

To me if we eliminated RPP for large parts of the city, then we could much easier talk about pricing the remain permits smartly. IN ward 7 and 8 you probably would need very little only near metros, and you could keep the cost at the current price. However in the area around Dupont it would obviously be much more.

by nathaniel on Mar 11, 2013 10:41 pm • linkreport

@RL: obviously LB Doggett _and others_ were successful, because DC has not constructed any municipal parking garages, although the push for it would have been pre-1970 mostly.

I have seen pictures of downtown DC parking lots from around 1970. The amounts of cars was astonishing. But I can imagine the arguments: 'there is no need for government to provide what private industry is better at providing. We parking garage owners will step up to fill this need, no government funds are necessary.'

Of course in the present situation, the developers and the garage owners have opposing interests.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 10:50 pm • linkreport

why does so much of the city need RPP

It is a political perquisite for the ward City Council Members.

by goldfish on Mar 11, 2013 10:58 pm • linkreport

Here is a question that I haven't seen addressed, why does so much of the city need RPP.

People get pissed when they can't park directly in front of their houses; then they decide it must be all those "other people" from away taking their parking all the time. "Look at all these Maryland plates!" So they demand RPP to get rid of those "other" cars.

In plenty of places probably the only function of RPP is to get people who live there to register their cars in the District.

Of course in the present situation, the developers and the garage owners have opposing interests.

Again you are conflating parking for workers/commercial uses with residential parking. Commercial developers and garage managers absolutely have similar interests and most new office buildings downtown include parking garages. And those are mostly inhabited by cars from MD/VA.

by MLD on Mar 12, 2013 8:24 am • linkreport

AWITC -- sometimes I am dense and miss things. Sorry.

Goldfish -- it's true that the 1960s and 1970s and 1950s for that matter were a much different time. The parking industry also lobbied against the creation of the subway system. (It's too old an entry for me to find in my blog, but I quoted from an industry trade magazine editorial from circa 1964 on the subject.) It was also much stronger, and more local. Now the building industry (and the banking industry) aren't really locally owned in the way they were before, and they don't have the same suasion power, maybe, with the feds.

OTOH, this general subject is deserving of much deeper study than is likely generally (we don't delve too deeply into stuff in DC) or in the context of the DC transportation planning initiative.

And yes I would agree in general with the comments of MLD, AWITC and others about not conflating the commuter traffic and parking issue with the residential parking issue.

And even the difference between using a car (like car share or rental) occasionally vs. owning a car. What bugs me the most about all of this discussion is the entitlement of car owners over all other considerations, including accommodating car users like those of us who are members of car share, equally. E.g., car2go pays about $2,000/car per year which includes the privilege of parking at meters or in RPP zones for no additional charge (when following posted rules). I don't know the average price paid by the other car sharing companies for permanent use of particular on-street spaces.

In any case, it's a lot more than the RPP, but ultimately the cost is borne by the users, who pay higher per minute charges (for car2go) and higher hourly charges (for Zipcar and other services) for use of the space.

Why should car using residents be paying more for this space usage than car owners?

by Richard Layman on Mar 12, 2013 8:46 am • linkreport

35% is not the majority. Most people need cars.

Let X be the percent who have offstreet parking.

Let Y be the percent who live in low density areas where there is no shortage of on street parking, even at current RPP fees.

100 - (35+X+Y) = the percentage of people with an interest in your proposal. I suggest that this percentage is well below 50%.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 8:49 am • linkreport

"Huh? Surely you realize the entire economy depends on transportation, part of which is people getting to work."

i thought you were referring to freight (movement of goods) or to service trucks, not to commuters and shoppers.

" For those that drive, they need to park."

and most do in garages provided by the private sector without subsidies.

"The work done in DC is largely based on professional services -- lawyers, dentists, doctors, consultants, lobbyist etc. that all drive. Also, most of the retail business that makes the city lively depends on people driving to shops and restaurants."

who again, park at garages provided by the private sector without subsidies.

"Most of them park on my block on Saturdays and Sundays, which I am sure those shopkeepers appreciate."

You must have a very big block, if it provides parking for most of the above.

I do not dispute that you personally would benefit from a large municipal parking garage nearby.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 8:53 am • linkreport

All: yes I did confuse commuter traffic with residential parking, that upon reflection are separate issues. Nevertheless, most DC households have their own vehicle. To keep this car, they pay far more money than what even the most anti-car person thinks should be charged for the RPP. They do this because they need it; and their reasons are literally cast in stone by the inadequacies of public transportation.

To meaningfully improve the transportation system takes a least a generation. Because of that, the RPP system is not going to change, and it is a mistake to tie that to the zoning issue.

by goldfish on Mar 12, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure you're the one trying to tie the RPP system to the zoning update, but okay.

by MLD on Mar 12, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

given that many (most?) car owners in DC either have offstreet spots, or live in areas where parking is abundant, I don't see why modifying the RPP system needs to wait a generation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

They do this because they need it; and their reasons are literally cast in stone by the inadequacies of public transportation.

Certainly, some people do need cars. But only 65% have them, and I think it's obvious that not all of those need them. In fact, only 43% of DC residents (in 2009) commute by car. There are many people in that group who have cars because they make their lives better, but they would be fine if they had to give them up. So need might be a strong word for some of them.

And among the subset of car owners who "need" their car, only some of them park on the street.

And among the subset of car owners who need their car and who park on the street, few of them are likely to live in the high transit-accessibility areas where parking minimums are being removed.

And among the subset of car owners who need their car and who park on the street and live in the high transit-accessibility areas where parking minimums are being removed, only some of them live in areas where curb-side parking is highly constrained.

And of that group, some of them COULD park on their property if they had to.

So what we're really talking about is the very small group of people who NEED their car and who HAVE TO park on the street and who live in the high transit-accessibility areas where parking minimums are being removed and where curb-side parking is highly constrained. I think we can agree that they are somewhat complicit in that situation because of the choices they have made, and it's not unfair to ask them to pay a little more to reduce parking demand.

by David C on Mar 12, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

David C: ideas to change the RPP program have been circulating for years: see this article. None of them pass.

by goldfish on Mar 12, 2013 9:59 am • linkreport

and their reasons are literally cast in stone by the inadequacies of public transportation.

I still have a hard time believing that in the city with the second highest transit ridership in the nation.

And if nothing changes to RPP, so be it. I don't care. I'm still going to support parking-free development because its better for the city.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 10:01 am • linkreport

Broken link: see
http://dcist.com/2012/06/should_dc_change_its_parking_zones.php

by goldfish on Mar 12, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

None of them pass.

The link talks about one idea, never proposed as law, that hasn't been adopted. That's not exactly the great white whale you make it out to be.

by David C on Mar 12, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

@David C: I invite you to dedicate your life to getting your vision of what residential parking in DC should be enacted in law. Come by my house and I will sign the petition.

by goldfish on Mar 12, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

I'm sorry, but my life is already dedicated to reuniting West Virginia and Virginia and getting Thin Lizzy inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. That's all I can put on my plate right now.

by David C on Mar 12, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

Requiring parking in new apartment buildings, etc. is smart planning. DC is jsut very recently growing instead of shrinking and some of the new residents are going to keep cars. Growth brings numerous problems why make lack of parking an additional one? The requirement has not slowed development in the city relative to it's neighbors. There seems to be a feeling that taking away this restriction will lead to a walkable city with more parks but what if it leads to more parking garages?

by Oldscool on Mar 12, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

There seems to be a feeling that taking away this restriction will lead to a walkable city with more parks but what if it leads to more parking garages?

Because it will make the city more walkable. A building without onsite parking means there isn't a need for a curb cut which cuts down on the number of intereactions a pedestrian may have with a car. It also means that space devoted to a garage or curb cut can be replaced with an extra apartment or a retail space which adds to walkability.

More parking garages are likely to be built in DC anyway but not because or in spite of this rule change.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

@drumz- Entrances to garages in DC almost always have to be from alleys lately. (altho alleys should be walkable/bikeable too).

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Fair enough, good to know.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

IMHO-We have parking garages we subsidize up the wahzoo- They're located at Metro stations in the suburbs and suburbanites really need to use them to come into the city on fares which we also subsidize incredibly.

I use the municipal garages in San Francisco a decent amount and they are huge and extremely expensive. Overnight is about the same as a hotel- $40. But they do employ a lot of unskilled workers. However that downtown municipal mega- garage phase is probably past. Real estate in cores is too expensive. And I know every time I see the one across from the beautiful state capitol in Harrisburg I cringe.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

Tom did you miss the discussion the other day of fare policy at metro garages?

There are many metro garages that fill at current rates. I do not know why the rates cannot be increased. (AFAIK you in DC are not subsidizing them - I think that cost is assigned by jurisdiction)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

@Tom Cormaris: on the one hand you wrote "so the slightly less dense parts of DC will probably get hammered by new construction putting most of future residents' parking on the street" but then later you wrote "however that downtown municipal mega-garage phase is probably past"

So what do you propose? Keeping the parking requirement in the zoning, so that parking will continue to be provided when somebody builds something *near* the core?

by goldfish on Mar 12, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

One candidate for council is proposing developers contribute to affordable housing in exchange for less parking - evidently this idea is not that fringy.

Another seems more focused on develoers providing carshare and bikeshare memberships to residents, etc.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

AWITC -- I once suggested to Nat B. when he was dir. of planning for WMATA, that WMATA should charge for parking differentially, based on the demand. He agreed, I think, but implored me to not write about the suggestion, because it would not go over well with the various jurisdictions and the board.

WRT David C.'s various points (not WV and VA and Thin Lizzy, note that I think DE is too small and should be merged into Maryland) the very good basic point there is that the verymost micro interests are often used to scuttle necessary general changes. (E.g., "congestion charges" and the "poor" -- my response is make the right policy and if necessary, provide other means of subsidy in response to he changes, only to the people who "need it" rather than not make the optimal changes.)

WRT his point about "life better with a car" etc. positions, you can have a car in your life and live better without owning one. That's the point I make about car users vs. car owners.

And car sharing and car rental. (+ walking + biking + transit + e-commerce)

Actually, I have nothing against cars or people who own them. My reservations concern subsidizing and privileging cars at the expense of nonowners and other modes.

The only reason I stake out hard core anti- positions is because the overwhelming majority of discussants on the issue take such a pro car, pro privileging position.

by Richard Layman on Mar 12, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

AWITC -- again, wrt spending the "savings" on Affordable Housing or anything else, rather than some b.s. position by a Councilmember, I prefer a rigorous consideration of all possible amenities-community benefits, coming to a community consensus, and then making decisions accordingly (along the lines of my writings about community benefits).

E.g. I argued against just eliminating "recreation" space requirements from downtown multiunit housing projects without requiring paying into a parks and rec. amenities fund (and making a decision without a parks, rec. and open space plan for Downtown). Of course, the ZC went ahead and eliminated the requirement, without requiring anything in return.

by Richard Layman on Mar 12, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

RL

thats reasonable - I was simply making the point wrt our discourse, that the notion of any developer payments in exchange for less parking (IF thats even a good idea) going to something OTHER than subsidizing more parking, is a maainstream idea.

I know I seem to be beating this into the ground, but this issue seems to be at the core to the most vocal resistance to the zoning changes, and I do not care to let certain assertions go uncontested.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

@goldfish- I'd do a by-code swap like other smart growth places do- for something having to do with multi-modal transit, or for RPP give-ups.

@walker- I didn't know the suburbs pay for their Metro garages. But still---the huge majority of the problems concerning parking, congestion, alcohol licensing,pollution, policing, probably tooth decay in my neighborhood have to do with people from the burbs not parking their cars and SUV's in suburban Metro garages (often for free) and taking the train into the core.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

... we have that in common.

by Richard Layman on Mar 12, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

WRT his point about "life better with a car" etc. positions, you can have a car in your life and live better without owning one. That's the point I make about car users vs. car owners.

Exactly right. Makes me think of the letter writer here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/longtime-residents-fear-dc-government-will-push-their-cars-off-the-streets/2013/03/08/35d19002-8769-11e2-999e-5f8e0410cb9d_story.html

This person may think they're one of the "good ones" because he/she doesn't use their car that much. But I wonder why they own a car at all when they drive 3500 miles a year? Just because you don't own a car doesn't mean you never use one - ZipCar and Car2Go and even Taxis are great ways to get your groceries home, or go to the library, or whatever. People just have a stuck mindset that says to use a car they must own one; there is also the mental block of paying for your car use each time you use one.

by MLD on Mar 12, 2013 2:09 pm • linkreport

@MLD- I can understand the writer. His car is 17 years old and he only uses it for necessary trips, often large lots of groceries for him and his husband. Probably for urgent spur-of-the-moment trips and trips where transit doesn't go also. At 16th & U I doubt they use it during any heavy congestion times or evenings. People like this are not any significant part of the congestion problem. Maybe we should call these "weekend cars".

You're talking about a car worth a few hundred dollars and insurance of maybe $50/mo. Most car-shares and rentals do not include insurance so it's good to have a cheap policy of your own. I mostly rent and car share and it's not much different financially from buying a new car but it is a lot more than keeping an old car.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

People like this are not any significant part of the congestion problem.

They're not part of the peak-period auto congestion problem but they certainly contribute to parking congestion which is the issue we're all arguing about here right?

It's an example of the entire issue at hand - yes they already own the car and it is worth little and liability insurance on it is cheap. But the price of keeping that car around is made even cheaper by the fact that they pay $35 a year to park it on the street even in an area that has plenty of parking issues.

I can definitely understand their how they did the math an found that keeping the car was a good idea - that's the entire problem!

by MLD on Mar 12, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

I have so much pity for someone who bought a condo at 16th and U in 1988, and still owns it today. Probably a 2br if they were a couple buying in the late 80s, and almost all paid off. Really I do.

Such folks can't afford to, pay a few hundred a year for parking - or to pay for zipcar (which comes with insurance) or to take a cab home from the grocery now and then. No sir.

by CrocodileTears on Mar 12, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

Is it a problem then if the car isn't right outside if you only need it a couple times during the week?

That's the exact situation I had in college (before I was working at a restaurant). The only time it was ever a serious hassle was if it was raining.

That's anecdotal but unless one is seriously infirmed (but can still drive) then its something most people should be able to handle. If you're paying less than you would for car share great! That's not a compelling reason to A. prohibit more parking free development or B. keep the the pricing for street parking management low.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

So would we rather remove those cars "wasting" a parking spot so that the spot is free more often so that more cars can be driven more and more utilizing that spot for parking.

Parking efficiency fosters increased auto use.

Personally, if it weren't for street sweeping, I'd rather every street spot be filled with cars that never move so people might figure out there's another way to get here than driving.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

I don't care how long the car stays there, its the person complaining that the car they only use intermittently should always get a front door parking spot and that the city should do all sorts of things to ensure that.

Anyway, "parking efficiency" could mean anything. If you're going by the Shoup rules it would mean that only 85% spots in a given block or area are filled at any point which means that instead of driving around and around looking for a spot you find one rather quickly and go ahead and get out of the car. Of course you can't do that while paying next to nothing for RPP so its kind of a moot point.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

@Crocodile,

Spoken like a true self obsessed yuppie gentrifier who thinks because someone purchased a property 20 years ago and it is "worth" more, that the owner is rich and can afford whatever the urbanist set deems appropriate for them to spend.

That value is only realized if they sell. You do get that right? It isn't like the value of their real estate somehow translates into additional disposable monthly income.

With higher value comes higher property taxes. Your fictional condo owner probably pays 4 times what he/she paid when they bought/.

As we've seen recently with U street, Columbia Heights and now into Bloomingdale, the only way those folks see that money is if they sell and leave which is apparently what you recommend. Perhaps this is why the policies you espouse are so poorly received by those same people?

by Gentrification on Mar 12, 2013 4:16 pm • linkreport

Well if you live anywhere in DC you're only paying 35$ a year for an RPP sticker. If you can afford a house I'm sure you can handle that.

No one has to leave but that doesn't mean that the way parking is managed in DC can never change.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 4:18 pm • linkreport

If they bought 25 years ago they should have a modest monthly payment.

They do not need to leave.

But if they do not value the way 16th and U is now, and prefer a place where parking is not valuable, it would seem like a logical thing to do. Again, they do not have to, if they really prefer to stay. But it's difficult to see why DC parking policy has to be built around their desire to stay.

Pardon me though for not considering someone with 500k or more in housing equity to be "poor".

by CrocodileTears on Mar 12, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

Aw, I have a soft spot for downtown mega-garages. When you stumble into one in an unfamiliar area or city, it feels like the city has rolled out a friendly welcome mat. Kinda like Barnes & Noble stores.

by Chris S. on Mar 12, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

Chris S, the old Capitol Garage actually looks like it wasn't too bad. Check out the car-shaped ornamental carvings.

by David C on Mar 12, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the pic. Those are some cool carvings. You don't see much of that level of detail these days.

by Chris S. on Mar 12, 2013 5:01 pm • linkreport

@Croc

Your example shows someone who bought ~ 25 years ago. I know it is asatonishing for you and the other recently arrived set, but U Street wasn't always 400K 1 bedroom condos. U street wasn't a destination until 2003-2004, when parking started to become a problem.They lived there for more than 20 years and could park anywhere they wanted. Parking has become a problem in the past 8-10 years, so again your self obsessed attitude "prefer a place where parking is not valuable, it would seem like a logical thing to do" fails again.

Really, and you wonder why the city residents mobilize so often and much in the face of your "new arrival" snobbishness.

And again, the only way someone sees that 500K is if they sell, in which case they can't afford to buy what they have in a similar environment.

You can be for urbanist utopian policies without telling everyone to get out of your way. Try it. You might get a better reaction.

by Gentrification on Mar 12, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

I'm not telling anyone to get out of the way. I'm just saying that someone who has 500k in equity writing to the Post with this "poor me, I might have to pay $200 a year to park my car" thing - well they might get a better reaction if they put it differently. Don't you think so?

"U Street wasn't always 400K 1 bedroom condos"

Yes, thats the point. They bought cheap, and now their unit is worth a great deal. Due to precisely the changes they don't want to pay a couple of hundred dollars a year for. If they want to stay fine - but there is no need to keep parking costs the same to accommodate their desire to keep the best of 1988.

by CrocodileTears on Mar 12, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

"Really, and you wonder why the city residents mobilize so often and much in the face of your "new arrival" snobbishness."

Actually I don't see that - I see council candidates mostly supporting the zoning changes. I do see resistance from poor blacks, who never owned, have zero equity, and have little choice. Thats comprehensible. But people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity, people who were themselves the gentrifiers of yesteryear who pushed poor blacks out, playing impoverished victim? As unattractive as any 20something complaining about the absence of dog parks.

by CrocodileTears on Mar 12, 2013 5:22 pm • linkreport

Of course I also see privileged folks in 600k condos or 800k townhouses opposing new developments, and wishing more young people would move to poor black neighborhoods instead, where they can force out poor black renters. That the same people want to indicate they are in solidarity with said poor black renters is indeed rich.

by CrocodileTears on Mar 12, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

I would imagine that longtime residents in any neighborhood with a fair amount of emotional investment in their community would like to see the local characteristics they cherish maintained as best possible.

Property values are not what make a house/condo a home.

by Chris S. on Mar 12, 2013 5:38 pm • linkreport

But if you want the many amenities that make DC desireable also make it to

Same goes for Tyson's mall for that matter.

Meanwhile the city has many goals, many of which are higher than making parking easy and some incompatible with that fact.

So ultimately it's kind of silly to expect the neighborhood change but the response to stay the same.

by Drumz on Mar 12, 2013 6:14 pm • linkreport

@drumz- Somehow I doubt the couple at 16th and U ever gets a place at their front door. More likely on average a block or two away.

Whether it's creating more parking supply with new garages or making existing spaces more efficient for turnover, you are still inevitably promoting more driving. Maybe in LA where driving is the norm Shoup's theory makes sense as to parking pricing. But not in compact cities that have multiple modes of transit and seek to discourage autos.

People in live in places where parking is hard learn to not use their cars anymore than absolutely necessary. People who drive into those same areas and continually find no parking eventually give up and transit.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 6:36 pm • linkreport

Tom, that's not necessarily a strategy I disagree with.

But man, try that with whose first response is always to find a reason why transit is somehow impossible for them (repeated here in this thread too) and that's why DCs number one priority is to ensure parking for everyone, forever, and for free.

by Drumz on Mar 12, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

Drumz- The only part of what they say I'd agree with is transit within DC is much worse than it should be. Maybe improved bus service and streetcars will help that. But why in the world people coming into a DC neighborhood from the suburbs can't figure out how easy it is to park there and transit in is just amazing. The only upside is DC is making a boatload of parking ticket money while these slow-learners figure it out.

And the problem with resident auto use comes much more from the ones with assigned parking or parking pads. Unlike street parkers, having a guaranteed spot encourages a lot of core dwellers to use autos much more than is reasonable. That and the fact that the impervious pads or pumped-out underground garages contribute a lot to the water runoff problem makes them much more suitable for some sort of penalty or at least carrot-and-stick. In my block twenty years ago almost every rear yard had at least one tree and today there's only one left out of 50 houses. The rear yards are all concreted over and every morning you hear the constant roar of the metal doors rolling up as the residents drive to work- usually in DC. That's not urban living. And having an assigned parking spot is a garage is just as bad. That's why I'd rather trade parking minimums for needed conveniences for car share or bicycles or just prohibit them from having any parking privileges.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 7:32 pm • linkreport

I agree. I'm for the removal of parking minimums as well.

I was just talking about what to expect if one is insistent on parking on the street like they've done for 25 years.

by Drumz on Mar 12, 2013 7:57 pm • linkreport

Making parking more expensive/inconvenient would be fine if that extra revenue were used to improve Metro by an equal or greater amount. For example, reduce the number of parking spaces by 5%, but at the same time increase the number of Metro trains running by 10%. That sounds like a good step forward.

by Chris S. on Mar 12, 2013 8:31 pm • linkreport

But drumz, you're for giving the windfall to the builders for nothing in return. I'm for trading it for car-less buildings or for multi-modal perks in-building like smart growth cities do. The builders are doing very fine financially- they don't need that big a windfall.

Garage-less, RPP-less buildings are the best because they would have less market value than one with some option of having a car and would force some of the savings to go to lower rents or prices. Plus it's that many less new autos brought into DC with all the burdens they bring. There no reason to think people moving into a building without market-rate parking but with $35/yr RPP privileges would have any less than the 65% car ownership that is average and may because of higher incomes have a higher %. Why not bargain for 0%?

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 12, 2013 9:46 pm • linkreport

Well, I think developers should provide a lot of things. Parking isn't one of them. I definitely won't be disappointed if the city does a swap with a developer for benefits like that. I won't ever fight that.

So yeah, trade all you want but even if you don't I still consider it a net-positive for the city.

by drumz on Mar 12, 2013 9:54 pm • linkreport

I'm for trading it for car-less buildings or for multi-modal perks in-building like smart growth cities do. The builders are doing very fine financially- they don't need that big a windfall.

I'm not sure that's really a windfall.

First we came in and applied parking minimums - and that made all the land worth less than it was before. So, in a sense, we took away some of the lands value. And the justification for it was that there is a compelling public interest in creating on-site parking that was greater than the property owner's right to using their land as they wanted to.

But now we're saying that maybe we were wrong and there is no compelling public interest in on-site parking. So doesn't that mean that the value we took away should go back to the property owners (even if in many cases they're different owners)? Otherwise it's a bit of dirty pool.

It would like if the state said "everyone needs to install a $100 security light on their house to improve public safety." But then, while you were looking into how to comply, they realized that security lights don't work, so then they said "Never mind, just give us $100 instead." That wouldn't be fair.

It would be fair if they said, "either install the light or give us $100 to hire extra police for the night shift." Because then you're still helping to solve the same problem.

Likewise, it would be fine if they said "Either install the parking or add bikeshare, zipcar, transit benefits etc..." to meet the same need. But it's not cool to ask them to cough up money for parks. Either this taking was done to meet a certain need or it wasn't. And if not, then it should go back to the owner (Same way I feel about the height limit too).

Of course, my main opposition to this - and to creating RPP free buildings - is that there never was a compelling public need for on-site parking. So there never should have been a parking minimum to start with. We can control on-street parking by managing the public space - higher RPP and meter prices - and leaving private alone. And that way the people who use public space for private property storage would pay for it - instead of everyone else.

by David C on Mar 12, 2013 10:12 pm • linkreport

@DavidC- Sorry, but these developers or owners bought these sites knowing that the parking minimum "subsidy" was required and so it figured into the value of the property. Removing the requirement vastly increases the property or development value. It's a windfall.

People kvetch because Howard Town Center was given an unnecessary $11M but overlook that all major developers and parcel owners are given millions per project, for nothing, in this scheme.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 13, 2013 12:55 am • linkreport

Tom,

I don't agree with the notion this is a windfall. I also think the demonizing of development solely on the basis of profit is foolhardy (developers build the private realm of the city for us - we are their customers).

That said, you can't see how an accross-the-board policy change for certain zones based on objective, city-wide criteria is just a wee bit different than a single project tax break issued on a case by case basis?

by Alex B. on Mar 13, 2013 7:46 am • linkreport

@DavidC- Sorry, but these developers or owners bought these sites knowing that the parking minimum "subsidy" was required and so it figured into the value of the property. Removing the requirement vastly increases the property or development value. It's a windfall.

Perhaps, but as you said, the resulting RPP-less building "would have less market value than one with some option of having a car and would force some of the savings to go to lower rents or prices." In an effort to make sure the developers don't experience a windfall, you're in effect transferring that windfall to the immediate neighbors who, with their SFHs, rowhouses, and less dense condos will continute to enjoy vastly below-market rates for consumption of a public asset, while others in the neighborhood, whose only crime is that they moved in 10 years later, are forbidden from using that public asset at all. All in the name of ensuring that developers don't get a windfall.

I'm all for recapturing value from developers, but let's do it in a way that doesn't subsidize the lifestyle of certain residents at the expense of others. Remove the parking minimums, and impose a resulting contribution that will be used for the good of everyone - the possibilities are endless. And make the RPP sticker, say, $20/month - still dramatically below the market rate, but more than the absurdly low $3/month (and I'm rounding up) that it is now.

by dcd on Mar 13, 2013 7:49 am • linkreport

Sorry, but these developers or owners bought these sites knowing that the parking minimum "subsidy" was required and so it figured into the value of the property.

For starters, I'm not sure that every property in DC has changed hands since the parking minimums went into effect. So some of these owners likely had their property discounted by the requirement and are now getting the value restored. That's not a windfall.

But even those who bought after the policy went into effect should have paid extra for the possibility that it would change. So there is a price that they would have paid if the policy could never be changed, and they price they did pay and the 2nd should be larger than the first. I'm not sure that's a windfall, but since the original owners weren't reimbursed for their loss in value, I think it's unfair to count it as such.

Recently we've changed laws about hours that bars can stay open or liquor stores can stay open. That's the same kind of "windfall" as this. But we didn't go in and demand something from those people. Again, it's dirty pool to extract value from property for some public good (without reimbursement) but then, after deciding that it doesn't serve the public good and so returning it - treating it like a windfall.

And to some extent we will gain some of that increased value - through higher property taxes.

by David C on Mar 13, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

I don't get the argument that developers should not be compelled to build parking (because presumably, it is a waste of space as the residents have no need for it) and yet the city should be compelled to provide RPPs to these residents (because, er, wait a minute, maybe they do need parking?)

by Chris S. on Mar 13, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

"Sorry, but these developers or owners bought these sites knowing that the parking minimum "subsidy" was required and so it figured into the value of the property. Removing the requirement vastly increases the property or development value. It's a windfall. "

and the folks who bought properties when the city was in financial distress, had much higher crime, and was losing population, havent seen windfalls? Esp in certain neighborhoods that have seen the highest increases in values in the last 15 years?

Why is it that windfalls to owners of land suitable for construction of multifamily housing is bad, but windfalls for owners of townhouses and condos are good?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 13, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

chris S

many of us do not like parking mins also do not like the way the RPP program works now.

But the zoning code is what is currently under discussion.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 13, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

Well, it's all part of one discussion though, isn't it? You can't increase population density in an area without planning for the impacts on local infrastructure and services.

by Chris S. on Mar 13, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

I don't get the argument that developers should not be compelled to build parking (because presumably, it is a waste of space as the residents have no need for it)

The last part is why you're confused. That isn't the reason. The reason is that a parking minimum makes them build too many spaces and those last spaces aren't used. Why not let the market decide how many spaces they need?

by David C on Mar 13, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

@Walker-Are you seriously comparing Ma and Pa Public who bought a home many years ago and experienced rising value to Joe Developer who bought a parcels during the past few years for developments with every minute cost, much less the cost of required parking calculated?

Ma and Pa aren't getting their pockets lined with appreciated value because last month they dropped $100,000 on politico X but you can be sure Joe D. has figured out how beneficial dropping a couple $100K's is to gain $10 million in gained value in a few months from this.

In the District of Corruption you can bank on that.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 13, 2013 11:04 pm • linkreport

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