Greater Greater Washington

Ward 3 Democrats forget mission, fixate on parking

A Republican, Patrick Mara, just got the most votes in DC's Ward 3 in a special election. Leaders of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee, an organization formed "to support and elect Democratic candidates for local and national office," meanwhile, were more concerned with ramming through a resolution against the DC zoning rewrite's parking proposals.


Photo by Mr Thinktank on Flickr.

This resolution claims that the DC Office of Planning has no data to back up its recommendations to eliminate minimum parking requirements near transit or for new single-family homes and small residential buildings, and reduce them for schools. It implies without any basis that the zoning rewrite will actually take away parking.

The Ward 3 Dem leaders behind this resolution are now going around claiming that this reflects the views of Democrats in Ward 3. In reality, it represents only the views of 23 out of 94 delegates in the group. Its supporters used procedural maneuvers to ensure it would pass without delegates even getting to debate the merits of the issue.

The task force

Last fall, resident John Chelen, an avowed opponent of the zoning rewrite, approached Ward 3 Democrats chairperson Shelly Tomkin. He had already formed a "task force" made up of about 7 people who opposed the zoning rewrite and some who had publicly testified against it. Chelen suggested to Tomkin that the task force put together a white paper on the subject, supposedly to inform the delegates of the pros and cons of the proposals.

Chelen testified against the rewrite process on October 5, 2012, asking the DC Council to step in and essentially require the Office of Planning to restart the 5-year project. This came before his task force had issued any paper on the merits of the zoning rewrite and before the organization's broader membership had debated the issues or adopted any resolution.

Tomkin approved this task force without including any members with differing points of view. When word got out about the task force from Chelen's testimony, Ward 3 Democratic Committee delegate Ellen Bass and another resident insisted that Chelen include them to give some balance (although even after a 3rd resident joined later, they were a minority of the members). Chelen, after substantial initial delay, permitted them to join.

The group's "white paper" purported to be a fact-based analysis of the Office of Planning's policy recommendations on parking. But not surprisingly, the report contained only "facts" that supported the anti-rewrite position and unsupported assertions about the horribles that will result if DC adopts the proposals. Yet Tomkin distributed it to the Committee delegates as an objective statement of the "pros and cons" of the proposals without any caveat about dissenters on the task force.

For example, there is no mention of the environmental concerns about car use and vehicle congestion. The report cites no data to back up assertions like these:

  • In most instances, current parking requirements are substantially less than likely parking need that would be generated by use, so current requirements only partially mitigate the impact of spillover parking.
  • Elimination of minimum parking requirements on transit zones will result in spillover parking in residential neighborhoods near Metro stations
  • Elimination of minimum parking requirements ... will result in people who live near transit zones or downtown to walk blocks from their car to their home ...
  • The rewrite will reduce parking requirements for schools, hotels, and churches. [In fact, all the rewrite proposes to do is base the requirement on square footage rather than factors that change over time like number of seats, rooms and employees.]
The paper also reflected a clear anti-zoning rewrite bias. It contained arguments attacking the OP proposals which it called "Stated Justifications." According to Bass, she had prepared a more balanced draft, but then 2 avowed opponents of the parking proposals reworked it. She and two other members who did not agree with the paper prepared their own "Alternative Analysis," which Bass said she had to distribute to Committee delegates herself.

The resolution

Chelen then presented a resolution condemning OP's parking proposals at the Ward 3 Dems' April 11 meeting. It states, among other things, that the "parking proposals adversely will affect residents, businesses and the vibrancy of the city," that they "do not reflect community preferences," and that they are "not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan."

These are at best opinion statements not supported by data in the "white paper." For one thing, the zoning task force did not assess the community preference beyond its own membership of 10 or so people, and 3 of those people did not agree that the parking proposals would be detrimental. As for the Comprehensive Plan, this too would prove without basis, as soon became clear.

The first order of business on April 11 was a lengthy debate on whether attending members could vote in place of absent delegates, as the Committee Bylaws clearly permit. After much discussion, Tomkin thought better of denying these members their vote, but because of the time it took to resolve this issue, and Tomkin's decision to let an unrelated speaker give his presentation first, delegates grew impatient and some left before the late vote.

Furthermore, procedural shenanigans by the resolution's supporters ensured there would be no floor debate on its substance. Yes, on a very contentious issue that has divided many in Ward 3, and on a resolution that says policies "are not supported by data," there was no actual discussion about those facts. While the resolution purported to reflect "community preferences," community members never had a chance to talk about their preferences.

Tom Smith, an ANC commissioner and Committee delegate, did insist on asking Chelen how many parking places in Ward 3 would be eliminated if the rewrite went through. Chelen responded that he did not know and did not have any examples he could cite, but he was sure it would happen.

Afterwards, Chairperson Tomkin issued a statement in "themail," claiming that the resolution "was approved in a vote by a broad majority taken April 11." This careful wording obscures the reality that just 23 people voted in favor, a small proportion of the 94 Committee delegates and hardly a majority of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee. In fact, fewer than half the delegates (only about 44 people) even bothered to attend the April 11 meeting. By the time the resolution came up for a vote after 9:30 pm, there was barely a quorum present, and only about 30 delegates even voted.

The resolution does not speak for Democrats in Ward 3

The vote total is important because Chelen is pushing other organizations, such as the Cleveland Park Citizen's Association to adopt a similar resolution. He intends to bring this resolution to the DC Council as reflecting the views of Ward 3.

But his hyperbole is overblown and inaccurate. On the Chevy Chase listserv, he stated, "The resolution passed by a supermajority vote [of the Ward 3 Dems], a telling sign of community resistance to the ill-considered and over-reaching proposals made by the Office of Planning."

Ironically, despite the claim that the minimum parking proposals are inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the very next day after the Ward 3 Dems vote, the Zoning Commission approved the Babes Billiards PUD, a mixed-use building in what would be a transit zone near a Metro station that would not have on-site parking. The PUD order cited 23 policies within the Comprehensive Plan that support a development with no on-site parking, beginning on page 11.

Being a neophyte at these political meetings, but not in life itself, I expected that a few motivated individuals could move the needle on getting things done through sheer guile and force of will. I was surprised, however, how an organization named the Ward 3 Democratic Committee could permit such a clearly non-democratic process, push through a white paper without even hearing dissenting viewpoints.

Today, the "white paper" is still not available on the Ward 3 Democrats' website, although it is available online, along with the "Alternative Analysis" from the 3 task force members who did not agree with the paper Chelen and Tomkin distributed. Instead of alienating Democrats by letting the group be a tool of those who want to advance a specific agenda on a non-partisan issue, the Ward 3 Democratic Committee ought to focus on its actual electoral mission.

Steve Seelig is a long-time resident of Ward 3 interested in preserving its charms while expanding its reach along the transit-rich corridors to help make driving to more far-flung commercial districts a rarer occurrence.  

Comments

Add a comment »

Surprised.

Not.

by William on May 2, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

@ Steve Seelig - I understand you take exception to the process. But are you also suggesting Ward 3 Dems aren't an appropriate forum for discussion of theese issues? You certainly "cheery picked" on the mission of Ward 3 Democrats. "The mission of DCWard3Dems.org is to support and elect Democratic candidates for local and national office; and to provide a forum for Democratic voters in Ward 3 and the community as a whole to discuss issues affecting our community city-wide. DCWard3Dems.org seeks to organize and mobilize voters in Ward 3 to register as Democrats and to actively participate in a grassroots organizations committed to the election of Democratic candidates at all levels of government in DC, in the regional metropolitan area, and across the country. DCWard3Dems.org works closely with elected officials to encourage accountability, transparency, and good ethical government practices.

by Tom M on May 2, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

This article is quotation happy.

Their use in phrasing such as

the report contained only "facts" that supported the anti-rewrite position
badly undermines your objectivity. It is polemical; better to present the opposing facts and let the reader decide.

by goldfish on May 2, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

Let's note again,

reduction or removal of parking minimums doesn't take away parking. We will still see a net increase of parking spaces in new developments across the city.

by drumz on May 2, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

Steve:

Good summary and thank you for writing this but do more than five people actually care what the Ward 3 Dems have to say? This seems like a high-effort/low-reward activity.

by 202_cyclist on May 2, 2013 1:16 pm • linkreport

@202_cyclist

I guess it matters if those five people who care happen to be on the D.C. Council.

by Adam L on May 2, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

I live in Ward 3. Honestly, the proposed change to parking minimums is probably irrelevant for a significant majority of people in the Ward. Parking is a non-issue in most of the Ward, with a few exceptions.

This leads to some really results, like the stupid arrangement where American University law students are not supposed to park on the streets near the law school, even if they have a Ward 3 RPP. I went to the law school for a conference and parked nearby. Some American U. security guard tried to tell me I couldn't park on the streets, and I invited him to call the real police if he thought I was breaking the law.

People in Ward 3 are really worried about parking, even though we're the Ward with probably the least problems in finding street parking near our homes.

by Potowmack on May 2, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

The bullet points from the white paper are amazing. A few of them are barely recognizable as English.

The bombast in Chelen's note reminds me of some of our gadflys in Ward 5. Good to know that over-the-top language is not limited to our part of town [though we have perfected it ;)].

by Geoffrey Hatchard on May 2, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

@ Geoffrey Hatchard: +1 I cringe every time I see a transportation-related e-mail come across the Ward 5 list-serve, thinking of the responses that are bound to come across.

by Shipsa01 on May 2, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

I doubt that removing the parking minimums will cause many problems, but I also fail to see what we gain from it. It seems like a giveaway to developers.

by Chatham on May 2, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

We gain cheaper space, that's what. Parking, even when unbundled from the price of habitable space, is often sold at a loss, and those of us who don't buy the parking are implicitly subsidizing its construction.

We also gain the power to nudge other neighbors into car-freedom, which has the ultimate effect of improving options for car-free travel.

by Payton on May 2, 2013 6:32 pm • linkreport

We only get cheaper space if removing the park spaces leads to apartment development we wouldn't get otherwise. I don't think that's going to happen in most places in the city. How many areas are on that tipping point - and will remain there - where parking space means the difference between the complexes being built or not? Probably so few that the whole issue could be dealt with with a few variances. For instance, the case with Babe's was an unusual one in that they wanted to use an existing structure that couldn't handle the parking minimums. In the end they reached an agreement with the city.

by Chatham on May 2, 2013 6:51 pm • linkreport

Well now you have more space to build whatever you want rather than having to devote x amount to parking. You also don't have to excavate as much to get the underground spots. Plus space that wa devoted to a curb cut/ramp can now be a store front or another apartment.

So you will get something in place of why would have been parking

by Canaan on May 2, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

Curb cuts and parking entrances have to be in alleys in DC. No retail spot is lost.

OP isn't claiming the % of car ownership will be less in these buildings. Instead their rationale is that since developers costs will be less they'll pass the lower costs along to tenants. No obligation or reason to, but just because they're such swell guys not interested in maximizing profits.

From what I hear each of the major developers is expected to throw $1M into Gray's re-election coffers for this windfall so it's not exactly a freebie.

by Tom Coumaris on May 2, 2013 7:32 pm • linkreport

What are we going to get in that underground space? You think that developers want to build underground departments but aren't because of parking? I doubt it. As you said, the main draw is that the developers can excavate less, which saves them money, but we don't gain anything from it. Curb cuts are an issue, but a lot of apartments have the entrance in the alley.

Contrast that with no RPP buildings, where we get something tangible - incentive to not drive, and likely lower rent. Or by letting developers have a lower requirement in exchange for zip car stations, bikeshares, low rent apartments, etc.

by Chatham on May 2, 2013 7:36 pm • linkreport

I'm fine with all that. But to acknowledge thr means you acknowledge that DC doesn't need to mandate parking and developers are capable of figuring how much they need themselves.

by Canaan on May 2, 2013 8:23 pm • linkreport

What are we going to get in that underground space?

Probably nothing. And that will be much cheaper. Which will make the apartments cheaper.

by David C on May 2, 2013 10:47 pm • linkreport

This doesn't sound too much like the meeting I attended, nor the history of our Zoning Task Force. Rather than deal with the facts through a mere comment, can I be afforded an opportunity to post my observations of what the Ward Three Democratic Committee accomplished that evening? I'd like to be invited to submit an unedited document for posting in the same manner Mr. Seelig was provided.

by John Chelen on May 2, 2013 11:08 pm • linkreport

@David C

No, it will only make them cheaper if it leads to more development. Frankly, I don't think DC is suffering from lack of development at the moment, or that mandated parking is going to be the tipping point for many development projects at all.

by Chatham on May 2, 2013 11:15 pm • linkreport

Chatham, are you saying there is no relationship between the cost of production and the sales price? That would be Noble Prize winning economics if it were proven.

And of course, there are always projects on the margin that will go forward without the parking requirements but will not without it.

by David C on May 2, 2013 11:21 pm • linkreport

Maybe you should think less about the Nobel Prize (well, Nobel Memorial Prize) and more about Econ 101. Draw a little supply and demand graph and try to find a way to shift the supply curve so that the price equilibrium is lower without changing quantity or demand. Notice any problems?

by Chatham on May 2, 2013 11:51 pm • linkreport

The parking requirement (or any requirement but some I'm ok with) distorts the supply/demand curve.

But we aren't talking about whether demand is strong in DC. We are talking about if we can see better results (lower housing costs, fewer barriers to entry, lower oppurtunity costs, environmental benefits, etc.) by not requiring a minimum amount of parking in certain areas of the city.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 12:15 am • linkreport

try to find a way to shift the supply curve so that the price equilibrium is lower without changing quantity or demand

Why would I do that? The point is that the supply curve shifts when the cost of production changes. When it is cheaper to supply housing, people are willing to produce more of it at every price, which increases supply. This increase in supply pushes down price.

Explain to me how a reduction in the cost of production DOESN'T lead to an increase in supply?

by David C on May 3, 2013 12:19 am • linkreport

Why would I do that?

You wrote "are you saying there is no relationship between the cost of production and the sales price?" in reaction to my statement "No, it will only make them cheaper if it leads to more development" (and my earlier statement saying the same thing). No you're telling me "This increase in supply pushes down price." So uh...now you've decided you're actually in agreement with my statement(s)?

As for a reduction in cost of production that doesn't increase supply, that's not really so hard to figure out either. Give out $500 vouchers to developers and you're not going to see an increase. The cost reduction has to be big enough to lead developers to start new projects.

So the parking reduction is important if (as I said earlier):

1. You think one of the problems in DC is not enough development projects (hence my earlier statement "I don't think DC is suffering from lack of development at the moment").

2. You think that there are a number or projects where parking is and will remain (since if it doesn't remain that way, it only leads to a delay) the tipping point.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 7:23 am • linkreport

@John Chelen: I'd like to be invited to submit an unedited document for posting in the same manner Mr. Seelig was provided.

I would very much like to see this.

by goldfish on May 3, 2013 8:06 am • linkreport

Chatham
I don't think anyone has argued that parking is enough to derail entire projects. But it does impose a cost on both the developers and the city (which distorts the price, even as other factors distort price).

I don't know how we got caught up Discussing the concept of supply and demand (which we are all in agreement about) instead of whether its a good policy to let developers decide how much parking is needed in certain spots of the city where it's reasonable to assume that no parking may be wanted or needed in these spots.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 8:18 am • linkreport

You wrote "are you saying there is no relationship between the cost of production and the sales price?" in reaction to my statement "No, it will only make them cheaper if it leads to more development"

Right. Because there is no way that making them cheaper WON'T lead to more development. That's economics.

Give out $500 vouchers to developers and you're not going to see an increase.

Yes you will. It may be small and it may take a massive number of developers to see it, but the law of supply and demand dictates it. Can you find an example where lower cost doesn't lead to more supply?

At what $ value would these vouchers lead to more development, in your opinion? Certainly if we gave out $1M vouchers for every bedroom created we'd see more development. What do you the transition point to zero new units is?

by David C on May 3, 2013 8:37 am • linkreport

" You think one of the problems in DC is not enough development projects (hence my earlier statement "I don't think DC is suffering from lack of development at the moment").

Given rents, I'd say it is. MAYBE its not possible to have more buildings under construction right now - Im not sure - I dont know exactly what the capacity constraints on the development pipeline are. I DO know that some RE observers expect a roughly 5% decrease in rents in the next 12 months, as buildings hit the market. There is some question whether that decline in rent will lead to a significant cut in new projects, which will either stabilize rents or lead them to bounce back again. I think there's reason to want there to not be FEWER residential buildings breaking ground in the new 2 to 3 years.

"2. You think that there are a number or projects where parking is and will remain (since if it doesn't remain that way, it only leads to a delay) the tipping point."

All it takes for one building to be at a tipping point. Its also not clear to me its a simple binary of "building A gets built or not" In some cases it may get built, but smaller due to the parking issue. Or it may get delayed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 8:38 am • linkreport

The cost reduction has to be big enough to lead developers to start new projects.

And, it very well might! Lowering the construction cost will allow developers to target different submarkets.

Likewise, the parking requirements do not just impose physical costs, they also impose opportunity costs. The specific geometry of parking often requires someone to under-utilize a site so that they can maneuver the cars in and out. Ease that requirement and you'll see people take advantage of that new flexibility.

You think one of the problems in DC is not enough development projects (hence my earlier statement "I don't think DC is suffering from lack of development at the moment").

I know the number of cranes in the sky is impressive, but I'm not sure why you think we've got enough development. We've got lots of indicators that we need more additional supply: rents are high, apartment vacancies are incredibly low, condo supply is low, DC's population is growing, etc. All are strong indicators of demand.

Given the huge problem of finding market-rate housing that is affordable (as opposed to 'affordable housing' that is subsidized), it would seem that there is indeed a case to be made for additional development in the city.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2013 9:25 am • linkreport

I know the number of cranes in the sky is impressive, but I'm not sure why you think we've got enough development.

My prognostications are not reliable but...

Over the past four years, DC is one of the only places in the United States that has NOT been hit hard. The federal government provided steady, reliable employment, which kep the money flowing to everything else. This attracted people to move here because they can find work.

This is about to change as thing improve in other places. I'll bet the area will not be so hot over the next few years.

by goldfish on May 3, 2013 9:37 am • linkreport

Yes you will. It may be small and it may take a massive number of developers to see it, but the law of supply and demand dictates it.

Umm…no. The law of supply and demand doesn’t dictate it at all. ∆C leading to ∆Q is basic economic theory. ∆Q > 1 for any and all ∆C is not.

I’m not sure how many gifts to developers will lead to ∆Q>1, but then again, I’ve never been a big fan of trickle down economics. Developers seem to be doing just fine in the city as things stand.

I know the number of cranes in the sky is impressive, but I'm not sure why you think we've got enough development.

Because the pace of development is much greater than it has been over the past several decades, and it’s already enough to put strain on long-time residents and businesses. In many areas the constraint is lack of land to develop. I honestly don’t think DC needs a faster pace of apartment/luxury condos at the moment.

All it takes for one building to be at a tipping point.

But again, variances exist to handle the few cases where this would be an issue. The development at Babe’s ended up moving forward without changing the parking laws.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

With no parking minimums, all of a sudden a project .4 miles from Petworth Metro becomes much more viable. The 4-story walk-up with 24 units or whatever is a lot more viable when they can save $300,000 by not having to build 6 underground spots on a tight lot. Or they can build 24 units instead of 18 and providing surface parking on their lot.

There you go, extra supply right there. Take that example across the entire city, and you have thousands of extra units built.

by Kyle-w on May 3, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

Eh, problem with the quotes. Here’s take two:

Yes you will. It may be small and it may take a massive number of developers to see it, but the law of supply and demand dictates it.

Umm…no. The law of supply and demand doesn’t dictate it at all. ∆C leading to ∆Q is basic economic theory. ∆Q > 1 for any and all ∆C is not.

I’m not sure how many gifts to developers will lead to ∆Q>1, but then again, I’ve never been a fan of trickle down economics. Developers seem to be doing just fine in the city as things stand.

I know the number of cranes in the sky is impressive, but I'm not sure why you think we've got enough development.

Because the pace of development is much greater than it has been over the past several decades, and it’s already enough to put strain on long-time residents and businesses. In many areas the constraint is lack of land to develop. I honestly don’t think DC needs a faster pace of apartment/luxury condos at the moment.

All it takes for one building to be at a tipping point.

But again, variances exist to handle the few cases where this would be an issue. The development at Babe’s ended up moving forward without changing the parking laws.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

Because the pace of development is much greater than it has been over the past several decades, and it’s already enough to put strain on long-time residents and businesses. In many areas the constraint is lack of land to develop. I honestly don’t think DC needs a faster pace of apartment/luxury condos at the moment.

Is the pace greater? And, if so, isn't that simply a response to demand?

Likewise, wouldn't a failure to increase supply with that additional demand cause problems for affordable housing? Wouldn't that kind of change (high demand, constrained supply, lack of development) also put a great deal of strain on long-time residents and businesses?

I ask, because I'm curious what data you're using to reach this conclusion, or if that's just a gut feeling.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

"I’m not sure how many gifts to developers will lead to ∆Q>1, but then again, I’ve never been a big fan of trickle down economics. Developers seem to be doing just fine in the city as things stand."

its not a question of how developers are doing (btw, development is a competitive business and in the long run encouragement to development should pass through to landowners - I guess developers are less sympathetic though)

I also think equating any argument that deregulation will ultimately help consumers, with the arguments for radical tax cuts ("trickle down"), is unfair rhetoric. There are lots of us who opposed the Reagan tax cuts, who also supported deregulation that aided consumers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way

"Because the pace of development is much greater than it has been over the past several decades, and it’s already enough to put strain on long-time residents and businesses"

I think we dont all agree on that.

"In many areas the constraint is lack of land to develop."

There are many undeveloped lots. As we are often told when the height limit question comes up.

" I honestly don’t think DC needs a faster pace of apartment/luxury condos at the moment."

Again, if you are in the market for an apt or condo, you might not agree.

"But again, variances exist to handle the few cases where this would be an issue. The development at Babe’s ended up moving forward without changing the parking laws."

And as have often discussed, the variance process can lead to significant delays and costs, and can be particularly a hardship for developers of small projects. If a regulation is bad, then it doesnt make sense to keep it but allow variances.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 10:01 am • linkreport

Plus the myriad benefits of not requiring parking outside of issues related to the pace of construction in the city.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

"What are we going to get in that underground space?

Probably nothing. And that will be much cheaper. Which will make the apartments cheaper."

Not necessarily, unless the developer is required to pass along the cost savings. Otherwise the effect is just to make the developer's margins fatter. This may be the real intent.

by Ron on May 3, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

Otherwise the effect is just to make the developer's margins fatter. This may be the real intent

Sure, they're entitled to sell/lease the property at at whatever price they think they can command. So let's consider that

A: there are reasons for not requiring parking that go beyond cost.
B: A good way to 'force' savings to be passed on is to make sure that things are competitive in the marketplace (by allowing a greater number of units in places where people want to live).

by drumz on May 3, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

DC should do what Arlington County does, when developers opt out of minimum off-street parking requirements in so-called transit corridors. The development project is then restricted from getting street parking permits. This is the same restrictions that was negotiated as part of the Babe's PUD in NW.

If the theory behind eliminating parking minimums is correct, then everyone should benefit from this arrangement. The developer would benefit because it saves the cost of building off-street parking and, by passing the cost savings along in the form of cheaper rents or sale prices, has expanded demand for its units. The city would benefit because the development residents have an even stronger incentive to go car-free and take transit. The surrounding neighborhood benefits, or at least suffers no added burden from many more vehicles that otherwise would vie to park on the street, particularly where demand already exceeds supply. And while the development residents may wish they had street permit eligibility, that's a small price compared to the substantial cost savings that the developer is supposed to be passing along in cheaper housing prices. Right?

by Ron on May 3, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

Or you could manage the street parking directly rather than relying on a complicated system of trades and such between builders and existing residents.

You're strategy is great for buy-in from skeptical residents of a neighborhood. I would argue that its not the most efficient at regulating the number of cars parked on a block at any given moment.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

∆Q > 1 for any and all ∆C is not.

∆Q > 0 for any and all ∆C is.

by David C on May 3, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

Likewise, wouldn't a failure to increase supply with that additional demand cause problems for affordable housing? Wouldn't that kind of change (high demand, constrained supply, lack of development) also put a great deal of strain on long-time residents and businesses?

Well, supply is increasing. And when I talk to long-time residents and small business owners, I don't hear concerns about not enough development.

Talks with residents who have been here for years often leads to talks about how the old neighborhoods are gone, or how they’re now going to neighborhoods they never would have imagined going to in the past. Small business owners are worried about the increase in commercial rents that end up pushing them out. People who fancy themselves real estate investors are looking at the next area of the city to flip homes (often doing shoddy work).

I’m not saying all this is bad, but I think people should be aware of the enormous changes occurring in the city, and be aware that it can lead to complicated feelings.

I ask, because I'm curious what data you're using to reach this conclusion, or if that's just a gut feeling.

A mix of data (Google DC Development Boom and pick an article), personal experience (gut feelings), and talking to lots of people.

I also think equating any argument that deregulation will ultimately help consumers, with the arguments for radical tax cuts ("trickle down"), is unfair rhetoric.
Well, it’s equating supply side economics with supply side economics. The argument that cutting taxes for the successful in the hope that that the money eventually reaches the common person isn’t terribly different from cutting production costs for the successful in the hope that the money eventually reaches the common person.

There are many undeveloped lots. As we are often told when the height limit question comes up.
Hence “in many areas.”

And as have often discussed, the variance process can lead to significant delays and costs, and can be particularly a hardship for developers of small projects. If a regulation is bad, then it doesnt make sense to keep it but allow variances.

For the few developments that would go through this process there would no doubt be delays. But delays don’t trouble me that much.

If the idea is “we want to do whatever we can to get as much development as we can as fast as we can” that’s fine. It’s just a point of view I disagree with.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

I’m not sure how many gifts to developers will lead to ∆Q>1 .

OK, but you seem to agree that there is a relationship between the two, and at the significant costs that parking adds, it's not unlikely that removing this cost at places will lead to an increase in quantity. [I wouldn't call not requiring someone to build something a gift, but whatever]

but then again, I’ve never been a fan of trickle down economics

This isn't trickle down economics. That refers to cutting taxes on the wealthy. This is changing zoning.

by David C on May 3, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

∆Q > 0 for any and all ∆C is.

Yes, but in the real world 0.03 of an apartment complex is not an apartment complex.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

If the idea is “we want to do whatever we can to get as much development as we can as fast as we can” that’s fine.

No, the idea is that requiring parking in sections of the city that can easily support a life style where you don't need a car is unnecessary and works against the other goals of the city to become more sustainable and promote walking/cycling/public transportation.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

"Well, supply is increasing. And when I talk to long-time residents and small business owners, I don't hear concerns about not enough development."

Try talking to people looking to rent or buy in the city. And try talking to people in the city govt, who need tax revenues to finance the services the long time residents want.

"Talks with residents who have been here for years often leads to talks about how the old neighborhoods are gone, or how they’re now going to neighborhoods they never would have imagined going to in the past."

The gentrification wave is in part driven by the high cost of new development. get more new units in places that have already changed, and there will be less push into working class areas.

"I’m not saying all this is bad, but I think people should be aware of the enormous changes occurring in the city, and be aware that it can lead to complicated feelings."

"Well, it’s equating supply side economics with supply side economics."

No, the notion that adding to the cost of production of something hurts consumers of that item is standard microeconmoics. Supply side was suggesting, among other things, that the reducing taxes on the wealthy would lead to more revenue - which is theoretically possible but was considered unlikely by mainstream economists. Right wingers liked to pretend that supply side was simply mainstream micro - when in fact it was caricature of it.

"For the few developments that would go through this process there would no doubt be delays. But delays don’t trouble me that much."

naturally, if youre not concerned about the tightness of the residential RE market.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

in the real world 0.03 of an apartment complex is not an apartment complex.

No, but it might be an extra bedroom - which means a roommate and thus more supply.

by David C on May 3, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

No, the idea is that requiring parking in sections of the city that can easily support a life style where you don't need a car is unnecessary and works against the other goals of the city to become more sustainable and promote walking/cycling/public transportation.

I don't disagree with the argument that it's unnecessary. As I said earlier: "I doubt that removing the parking minimums will cause many problems, but I also fail to see what we gain from it." The only answer so far seems to be possibly more/faster development.

And I don't see how it works against making the city more sustainable. Does anyone think that lack of building parking will cause people to give up their cars instead of just parking on the street, which many people do already? No RPP buildings, zip cars, etc. would actually mean moving towards sustainable and car free goals. Just getting rid of parking minimums, not so much.

Try talking to people looking to rent or buy in the city.

Well, a no RPP building would likely have lower rent, no?

The gentrification wave is in part driven by the high cost of new development. get more new units in places that have already changed, and there will be less push into working class areas.

We’re getting those units. Maybe not fast enough for you, but still at a much faster pace than we’ve seen before.

naturally, if youre not concerned about the tightness of the residential RE market.

As someone in the market myself, I am. But my primary concern for the city isn’t how cheaply I can rent or purchase property right now.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

"And I don't see how it works against making the city more sustainable. Does anyone think that lack of building parking will cause people to give up their cars instead of just parking on the street, which many people do already? No RPP buildings, zip cars, etc. would actually mean moving towards sustainable and car free goals. Just getting rid of parking minimums, not so much."

first, I think having to park on the street, even with an RPP, would incent people AT THE MARGIN to have fewer cars. Second, as for RPP, I think most people here think something should be done about managing on street parking spaces. Some people think it should be denying RPPs to residents in new buildings without parking - some think it should involve market pricing for RPPs. Either way, the change in ZONING makes sense.

"We’re getting those units. Maybe not fast enough for you, but still at a much faster pace than we’ve seen before."

Not fast enough to soak up the demand that is spilling into and rapidly transforming working class areas. IF that transformation is a concern, then we need development as fast as possible. Not everyone has that concern, of course - some folks here oppose things that would ease development, with the suggestion "just go gentrify EOTR". The pace of development is fast, but so has been the growth in demand.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

No, but it might be an extra bedroom - which means a roommate and thus more supply.

So the difference between a rectangular complex and a rectangular complex with a small 8X10 protrusion on the first floor for that extra 0.03% of the complex. Eh. For developments that are fiscally constrained, it’d probably be an extra floor or nothing. Maybe a penthouse or some amenities. But it wouldn’t be an extra bedroom.

How often do development projects scale down their plans because of fiscal constraints?

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

Well, supply is increasing. And when I talk to long-time residents and small business owners, I don't hear concerns about not enough development.

Talks with residents who have been here for years often leads to talks about how the old neighborhoods are gone, or how they’re now going to neighborhoods they never would have imagined going to in the past. Small business owners are worried about the increase in commercial rents that end up pushing them out. People who fancy themselves real estate investors are looking at the next area of the city to flip homes (often doing shoddy work).

I’m not saying all this is bad, but I think people should be aware of the enormous changes occurring in the city, and be aware that it can lead to complicated feelings.

First: yes, supply is increasing. That's not the relevant question, however. The relevant question is if supply is increasing enough, relative to the demand.

Second: I agree, people need to be aware of the enormous changes in the city and the complicated emotional responses that the changes can trigger.

However, my point is this: don't mistake the symptom for the cause. The development you see is the symptom; it is a reaction to increased demand for city living/working/shopping/etc.

The demand is what's changed.

If you were to argue that stopping (or slowing) new development would stop the change, I think you would be disappointed. You might slow the new development, but if the demand is still there, you'll find prices increasing in previously affordable neighborhoods. If you constrain new supply in the face of increased demand, you're not going to stop change.

Point being: for that small business owner worried about rising rents pushing them out: they should be embracing new development that increases the supply of space! Just as an example.

If we decide we're not going to change our regulations, that doesn't mean we will stop changes in the city around us.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

So the difference between a rectangular complex and a rectangular complex with a small 8X10 protrusion on the first floor for that extra 0.03% of the complex.

Sure, but if you think this amount is ridiculous, I'll note that it is a number you made up earlier to account for a tiny increase for a hypothetical tiny incentive. It was an academic discussion.

This is not the impact I suspect we'll see with the zoning change.

How often do development projects scale down their plans because of fiscal constraints?

Often. But this is more than just fiscal, it's spatial. In DC, you're limited as to height, and going down is expensive, so there is a limited amount of 3D space you can build in. Fill that with cars and that comes out of housing/retail.

by David C on May 3, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

Not fast enough to soak up the demand that is spilling into and rapidly transforming working class areas. IF that transformation is a concern, then we need development as fast as possible.

The thing is, most of the development at the margins are going to be in newly gentrifying neighborhoods. I suppose it could lead to the tipping point in some other areas – I’m not sure what it would take for, say the Burger King near Van Ness to get sold and turned into an apartment complex (and the rest of that block, while we’re at it). Maybe this is the tipping point, but again, it’s also a question of if it will remain the tipping point, or if higher rents will just push things over on their own in a year or two.

Likewise, in gentrifying neighborhoods, economic incentives are shifting so fast that even if removing the minimums has an effect on development, it’s probably going to be more a matter of timing than anything else.

first, I think having to park on the street, even with an RPP, would incent people AT THE MARGIN to have fewer cars.

Would it? I’d think that people who would pay for a parking spot are less likely to go car free.

Either way, the change in ZONING makes sense.

I don’t disagree. What I disagree about is whether simply removing parking minimums is something we should have any strong feelings about.

The pace of development is fast, but so has been the growth in demand.

It would be myopic to only look at housing prices when we think of growth. There are definite strains caused by rapidly expanding the number of people in the city as well – just look at what’s happening with the schools.

The demand is what's changed.

True. And higher prices mean lower demand.

Point being: for that small business owner worried about rising rents pushing them out: they should be embracing new development that increases the supply of space! Just as an example.

But it depends. As we’ve seen, new developments can increase the demand beyond the space that they are providing. Of course, you can keep building past that, but prices don’t usually ever return to pre-development levels.

Now I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but it’s also something that I don’t see the need to hit the accelerator on (even if removing the minimums would do that, which I don’t think they would).

Sure, but if you think this amount is ridiculous, I'll note that it is a number you made up earlier to account for a tiny increase for a hypothetical tiny incentive. It was an academic discussion.

Right, because you were arguing that any ∆C leads to a ∆Q. Can we now say we agree that that’s not the case?

Fill that with cars and that comes out of housing/retail.

Fine, but your initial response to what we would get there was “Probably nothing.” So I don’t find this a terribly compelling argument.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

You asked what we would get in the space that would be excavated in an underground garage. The answer is probably nothing, but that's not so bad because that saves a lot in the construction cost.

I doubt many of us think it should be a big deal whether a building requires parking or not. But it is to many and therefore the arguments for it have to be made.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

"The thing is, most of the development at the margins are going to be in newly gentrifying neighborhoods."

most of the new apts are in areas where the rowhouse gentrified some time ago - 14th, U street, etc - or areas that have little in the way of old housing to gentrify - chinatown, Near SE. Some is in areas where townhouse transition is more recent - like H Street and Petworth - but even there I would suggest gentrification runs ahead of new development.

" I suppose it could lead to the tipping point in some other areas – I’m not sure what it would take for, say the Burger King near Van Ness to get sold and turned into an apartment complex (and the rest of that block, while we’re at it)."

Im thinking of the areas beyond petworth, of the areas up RI avenue, of trinidad and kingman park, and eventuall carverlangston and EOTR.

" Maybe this is the tipping point, but again, it’s also a question of if it will remain the tipping point, or if higher rents will just push things over on their own in a year or two.

Likewise, in gentrifying neighborhoods, economic incentives are shifting so fast that even if removing the minimums has an effect on development, it’s probably going to be more a matter of timing than anything else."

And if you are a 60 YO trying to live out her life without the neighborhood changing, a matter of timing is significant. And I dont take it as proven that all DC nabes will gentrify eventually.

"I don’t disagree. What I disagree about is whether simply removing parking minimums is something we should have any strong feelings about."

Youre making multiple comments cause you think some people "feel" too strongly, about a policy you support anyway? Okaaaaay.

"It would be myopic to only look at housing prices when we think of growth. There are definite strains caused by rapidly expanding the number of people in the city as well – just look at what’s happening with the schools."

You mean the schools closing? Huh? Anyway, if there costs, there are also benefits.

"True. And higher prices mean lower demand."

technically lower quantity demanded - the demand CURVE is not changed by higher prices. But if you look forward to higher prices keeping the population of DC down, I can see that you might support something that WILL have a negative impact on new supply.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

The answer is probably nothing, but that's not so bad because that saves a lot in the construction cost.

Right. But again, that’s only useful to the average person if we think new inventory should be developed at a faster pace and that this would lead to new inventory being developed at a faster pace. I think there’s a lot of room for disagreement there.

Alternatively, giving developers the option to have zip cars, electric car charging stations, underground apartments, etc. instead could actually lead directly to tangible benefits. Instead of giving up leverage and hoping for the best.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

Re: the whole leverage thing.

I (and others) have been over this a lot. I think most people that want to see the minimum parking req. go away would support zoning changes that would require other things (bike parking for instance). That doesn't mean the city needs to negotiate that for every project. Just require it and if they want a variance have them go to the BZA and argue it out.

The city wouldn't give up leverage. It would simply just have a better zoning policy and one that lined up with its goals of becoming more sustainable and multi-modal.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

Im thinking of the areas beyond petworth, of the areas up RI avenue, of trinidad and kingman park, and eventuall carverlangston and EOTR.

Yeah, but I thought the argument was that a faster pace of development would lead to less gentrification. This statement seems to support the view that it would lead to more (which I agree with).

And I dont take it as proven that all DC nabes will gentrify eventually.

Maybe not, but in the marginal areas where this would make a difference?

Youre making multiple comments cause you think some people "feel" too strongly, about a policy you support anyway? Okaaaaay.

Well, according to drumz that’s what I should do, but I digress. Rather, why is this an issue that a large amount of urbanists seem to want to press (if you’ve been following what’s been happening on the ground), when it’s a divisive issue that’s probably not going to make much of a difference either way? On top of that, stuff like RPP-free buildings would do a better job of moving a car free and low rent agenda forward, and would probably be much less divisive.

You mean the schools closing? Huh? Anyway, if there costs, there are also benefits.

I mean people being waitlisted for in boundary schools, and efforts to shrink the boundaries for schools that are now overcrowded.

technically lower quantity demanded - the demand CURVE is not changed by higher prices. But if you look forward to higher prices keeping the population of DC down, I can see that you might support something that WILL have a negative impact on new supply.

I don’t look forward to it, but it is what it is. DC is already the fastest growing state and one of the fastest growing cities in the US. To say that we need to hit the accelerator just because you want lower rent seems…shortsighted.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

I (and others) have been over this a lot. I think most people that want to see the minimum parking req. go away would support zoning changes that would require other things (bike parking for instance).

Then we’re in agreement. But my hunch is we have a better shot pushing that with the parking minimums in place than getting rid of the minimums and later asking the council to impose other requirements.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

because you were arguing that any ∆C leads to a ∆Q. Can we now say we agree that that’s not the case?

No. In fact, you've already conceded the point.

Fine, but your initial response to what we would get there was “Probably nothing.”

These were two different discussions. My initial response of "probably nothing" was to what we'd get underground in one specific case. My later comment about less parking leading to more housing is what we'd get citywide with less required parking.

by David C on May 3, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

But my hunch is we have a better shot pushing that with the parking minimums in place than getting rid of the minimums and later asking the council to impose other requirements.

The new zoning requirements DO require more bike parking. So, the two (parking minimum reduction and more bike parking) go hand in hand.

by David C on May 3, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

No. In fact, you've already conceded the point.

This isn’t that hard. A ∆C leading to a ∆Q < 1 in the real world does not lead to an increase in production because people don’t make ¼ cars or 0.03 apartment complexes. The law of supply and demand does not “demand”, as you say, that people make and sell 1/3 of a tea-shirt because they saved a couple of dollars.

Supply curves can be represented as being continuous, but they usually (never?) are. It’s like saying one in 4.3 people – they’re not talking about four humans and 1/3 of a corpse.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

A ∆C leading to a ∆Q < 1 in the real world does not lead to an increase in production because people don’t make ¼ cars or 0.03 apartment complexes.

No, but they can make apartment complexes slightly bigger. Note, that you are now arguing that there is some decrease in cost that is so small that it will not increase supply at all, ever. If that were so (and I think the scale here is so big, and the timeline so long that it probably isn't) how small would that decrease in cost have to be?

If we can move the argument along I'll concede that there may be a ∆C so small that it will not increase Q at all, if you will concede that that ∆C would be so small as to approach zero, and that this has zero relevance on our discussion, because we aren't talking about such a trivial change in cost, so that my original point that a reduction in cost will lead to more supply is valid.

by David C on May 3, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

"Im thinking of the areas beyond petworth, of the areas up RI avenue, of trinidad and kingman park, and eventuall carverlangston and EOTR.
Yeah, but I thought the argument was that a faster pace of development would lead to less gentrification. This statement seems to support the view that it would lead to more (which I agree with)."

No it does not support it. Slow the pace of new building on 14th, near H street, in Noma, in near SE, etc - and you ACCCELERATE the pace of gentrification in kingman park, in ares north and east of petworth, and even in carver langston and EOTR - not enough to absorb all the new demand, but enough to drive more poor people out faster.

"And I dont take it as proven that all DC nabes will gentrify eventually.

Maybe not, but in the marginal areas where this would make a difference?"

making supply more costly will both accelerate the pace of gentrification, and cause it to happen in more areas.

"Youre making multiple comments cause you think some people "feel" too strongly, about a policy you support anyway? Okaaaaay.

Well, according to drumz that’s what I should do, but I digress. Rather, why is this an issue that a large amount of urbanists seem to want to press (if you’ve been following what’s been happening on the ground), when it’s a divisive issue that’s probably not going to make much of a difference either way?"

They want the policy changed. It makes sense to change the policy, so change it. In DC doing anything gets lots of people screaming on listserves and at ANC meetings. To refrain from a good change because its devisive would mean doing nothing.

" On top of that, stuff like RPP-free buildings would do a better job of moving a car free and low rent agenda forward, and would probably be much less divisive."

The more logical approach of charging market rates for RPPs would be quite divisive. Making new building RPP free, but leaving cheap RPPs for existing buildings and houses (whether they have off street parking or not) would certainly result in less screaming from the people protecting their privileges. Whether its worth bowing to that blackmail is a question of opinion. But an RPP free building would STILL not be able to not have a parking gargage, unless the zoning code is changed.

"I mean people being waitlisted for in boundary schools, and efforts to shrink the boundaries for schools that are now overcrowded."

if new buildings cause a problem with school capcaity, then the logical policy is to require developers to pay towards new schools - in the suburbs we call that a proffer - adopting parking requirements that discourage development is not the logical way to do it.

"I don’t look forward to it, but it is what it is. DC is already the fastest growing state and one of the fastest growing cities in the US. To say that we need to hit the accelerator just because you want lower rent seems…shortsighted."

I see it as simply taking the foot off the brake. You can say DC is growing fast now - but thats reversing decades of population decline. And the employment growth will happen anyway - stopping development will lead to A. more people having to deal with higher rents (you keep dismissing it,but its a real problem for middle class people, young people, etc) B. more people living more dispersed in the region, with neg environmental consequences C. more gentrification, impacting the most vulnerable D Less revenue for DC, which has the highest percent in poverty in the region and needs the revenue to pay for social services.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

If we can move the argument along I'll concede that there may be a ∆C so small that it will not increase Q at all, if you will concede that that ∆C would be so small as to approach zero, and that this has zero relevance on our discussion, because we aren't talking about such a trivial change in cost, so that my original point that a reduction in cost will lead to more supply is valid.

Your point that cheaper parking would lead to noticeably more inventory over time is valid but unsubstantiated, and a claim I’m skeptical of. Your earlier point that the law of supply and demand demands that any change in cost leads to a change in quantity (and that therefore your other point is inherently true), however, is not valid.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

Chatham,

Check out this paper on parking requirements and their impact on housing markets:

http://www.its.ucla.edu/research/rpubs/manville_aro_dec_2010.pdf

Abstract: Using a partial deregulation of residential parking in downtown Los Angeles, I examine the impact of minimum parking requirements on housing development. 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 Alex B. on May 3, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

Your earlier point that the law of supply and demand demands that any change in cost leads to a change in quantity (and that therefore your other point is inherently true), however, is not valid.

Only if you consider the Null case wherein the change in cost is practically equal to no change. I suspect at very small numbers most of the laws of economics get weird - like quantum economics. But obviously my original point was not about very small numbers. So I'm not really sure what you're trying to win here.

by David C on May 3, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

No it does not support it. Slow the pace of new building on 14th, near H street, in Noma, in near SE, etc - and you ACCCELERATE the pace of gentrification in kingman park, in ares north and east of petworth, and even in carver langston and EOTR - not enough to absorb all the new demand, but enough to drive more poor people out faster.

Right, that’s why I was talking about the possibility that it would spur Van Ness development.

making supply more costly will both accelerate the pace of gentrification, and cause it to happen in more areas.

Higher cost means lower demand. If we go about it the other way, lowering the cost of production, we’re encouraging more development to encourage more demand. I don’t see that slowing the pace of gentrification. Just the opposite.

To refrain from a good change because its devisive would mean doing nothing.

There’s the issue of priorities.

Making new building RPP free, but leaving cheap RPPs for existing buildings and houses (whether they have off street parking or not) would certainly result in less screaming from the people protecting their privileges. Whether its worth bowing to that blackmail is a question of opinion. But an RPP free building would STILL not be able to not have a parking gargage, unless the zoning code is changed.

Right, but were talking about if we changed the zoning code to that instead. How is it blackmail? It achieves the stated goals of most people here – less cars and lower rent. And it doesn’t piss as many people off. It’s a bad idea because…?

if new buildings cause a problem with school capcaity, then the logical policy is to require developers to pay towards new schools - in the suburbs we call that a proffer - adopting parking requirements that discourage development is not the logical way to do it.

No doubt, but the point is that increasing the population causes a strain, one that isn’t being dealt with well at the moment. It’s not that it couldn’t be dealt with, and it’s not that it wasn’t an issue before, but that a push to accelerate a growth that’s already rapid is not without consequences.

I see it as simply taking the foot off the brake. You can say DC is growing fast now - but thats reversing decades of population decline.

Just because there was a long decline before doesn’t mean that we have to make it all back up in the next 5 years, or that we should. You might think that rapid growth can’t cause any problems – overbuilding, strains on government services and infrastructure – but history has shown us otherwise. Again, I’m content with being one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the country, I don’t think there’s a need to push for us to grow even faster just because we want cheaper rent.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

You might think that rapid growth can’t cause any problems – overbuilding, strains on government services and infrastructure – but history has shown us otherwise.

I'm not sure anything we've seen in DC counts as overbuilding. DC's population growth is nice, but it's not exactly what I would call rapid. DC's 75% population increase from 1860-1870 - now that was rapid.

The converse of your statement is also true, however. Underbuilding can cause a great deal of problems, too.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

"Higher cost means lower demand. If we go about it the other way, lowering the cost of production, we’re encouraging more development to encourage more demand. I don’t see that slowing the pace of gentrification. Just the opposite."

i think you and I may have different definitions of gentrification. I do not mean an increase in the total population of "gentry" in the city - I mean the transformation of neighborhoods that are predominantly working class, into ones that working class people can no longer afford, with, in some cases, actual displacement of existing residents (as their rents are rised beyond what they can afford) high rents for new developments will push the folks who might have lived in those developments to move to working class neighborhoods, raising rents there, and displacing more people.

"Right, but were talking about if we changed the zoning code to that instead." Thats parking regs, its not in the zoning code.

" How is it blackmail? It achieves the stated goals of most people here – less cars and lower rent. And it doesn’t piss as many people off. It’s a bad idea because…?" It misallocates parking spaces. It makes parking, a scarce good, almost free to the folks who get the RPPs and encourages them to own more cars then they might otherwise do.

"No doubt, but the point is that increasing the population causes a strain, one that isn’t being dealt with well at the moment. It’s not that it couldn’t be dealt with, and it’s not that it wasn’t an issue before, but that a push to accelerate a growth that’s already rapid is not without consequences."

I think this is more about maintaining the pace of growth than accelerating it (note my remarks far above about the RE market) and again, that growth has benefits of many types as well as costs.the foot off the brake. You can say DC is growing fast now - but thats reversing decades of population decline.

"Just because there was a long decline before doesn’t mean that we have to make it all back up in the next 5 years, or that we should. You might think that rapid growth can’t cause any problems – overbuilding, strains on government services and infrastructure – but history has shown us otherwise. Again, I’m content with being one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the country, I don’t think there’s a need to push for us to grow even faster just because we want cheaper rent."

DC isnt even the fastest growing jurisdiction in the region. Loudoun is. Right NOW there are DC residents lacking in services, that new development could pay for. Right NOW there are folks living in basements, living with their parents, having trouble getting their lives started because of the cost of housing. Right now there are people locating in the suburbs, driving more than they would, creating more sprawl, because of the excessive premium for walkable urban places across the region.

All this, so existing residents can park for free?

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure anything we've seen in DC counts as overbuilding.

Not that it is, but that's what could very well happen with increased growth. I see no reason to slow growth, but I also don't see any pressing reason to speed it up.

i think you and I may have different definitions of gentrification. I do not mean an increase in the total population of "gentry" in the city - I mean the transformation of neighborhoods that are predominantly working class, into ones that working class people can no longer afford, with, in some cases, actual displacement of existing residents (as their rents are rised beyond what they can afford) high rents for new developments will push the folks who might have lived in those developments to move to working class neighborhoods, raising rents there, and displacing more people.

I think we have similar definitions. I was talking about your point of building in already developed areas vs. developing in new areas.

It misallocates parking spaces. It makes parking, a scarce good, almost free to the folks who get the RPPs and encourages them to own more cars then they might otherwise do.

RPP free buildings don't do that. The current system does that, but that's a different issue.

I think this is more about maintaining the pace of growth than accelerating it (note my remarks far above about the RE market) and again, that growth has benefits of many types as well as costs.

Well, if we had a prolonged slowdown I'd reconsider things.

Right NOW there are DC residents lacking in services, that new development could pay for.

Right. But so could innocuous taxes that people scream about. As it is, people like Bowser want to give tax cuts to millionaires instead.

All this, so existing residents can park for free?

I'm not sure where you get this from. With or without minimums, with or without RPP free buildings, those people are going to park for free.

As to people living in basements and with parents - not enough housing will ever be created to make that not be the case. In which case, the question is how much of our resources do we want to devote to that? I'm happy devoting a lot to affordable housing. But, like I said, I don't think the current problem with DC is that we're growing too slowly.

Being one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the country is not slow. And there will always be people priced out of prime areas. It would be nice to minimize that, but I honestly don't see parking minimums as making much of a difference, and I don't think trying to push as much development as we can to try to get $800 2-bedroom apartments near a metro is a sustainable solution.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

"As to people living in basements and with parents - not enough housing will ever be created to make that not be the case. In which case, the question is how much of our resources do we want to devote to that?"

we're not talking about devoting resources. we are talking about dropping a zoning reg that forces builders to build more parking than the market will bear.

" But, like I said, I don't think the current problem with DC is that we're growing too slowly."

Again, I think the level rents belies that.

"Being one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the country is not slow."

The rate of growth in Loudoun county is faster than in DC. There are lots of exurbs growing faster. The more we limit development in WUPs, the more autocentric our metro areas are.

"And there will always be people priced out of prime areas. It would be nice to minimize that, but I honestly don't see parking minimums as making much of a difference,"

we disagree on that.

" and I don't think trying to push as much development as we can to try to get $800 2-bedroom apartments near a metro is a sustainable solution."

$800 studios would be nice. And having more people live near metro, so more people utilize it, would seem to be desirable.

by AltHandleForThis on May 3, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

we're not talking about devoting resources. we are talking about dropping a zoning reg that forces builders to build more parking than the market will bear.

I was speaking more generally. As I said, I don't think dropping the requirements are going to lead to a noticeable amount of change. You disagree. But I also think that RPP apartments are a much better way to get fewer cars and lower rent.

Again, I think the level rents belies that.

You seem to be assuming that there's some optimal rent level, and the focus on our development policy should be based on that. I disagree.

The rate of growth in Loudoun county is faster than in DC.

Loudoun county has been one of the fastest growing counties in the US. Is it not enough for DC to be at the top – does DC have to be growing faster than everywhere else?

There are lots of exurbs growing faster. The more we limit development in WUPs, the more autocentric our metro areas are.

We’ve been moving away from cars and we’ll continue to, even with parking minimums. I don’t see that trend reversing, and I don’t see it relying on the lack of parking minimums.

$800 studios would be nice. And having more people live near metro, so more people utilize it, would seem to be desirable.

Expanding the metro would bring substantive results. But there doesn’t seem to be much of a push to increase expansion (though I suppose the slow plod of the silver and purple lines is something).

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

You seem to be assuming that there's some optimal rent level

There is, you don't want to be spending more than 30% of your gross pay on housing.

http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/

by drumz on May 3, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

There is, you don't want to be spending more than 30% of your gross pay on housing.

Umm…you do realize that “your gross pay” is variable, yes?

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

So is your rent. But it's guideline and there is an agreed upon number that puts housing costs as either affordable or unaffordable. Many in DC are spending way above that threshoold. That shows that DC is unaffordable. There are many responses to this of course but I don't see how anyone can espouse a city or region wide housing strategy that doesn't include simply building to meet demand.

And of course if you have the evidence to go ahead and build without any parking attached then feel free.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

"we're not talking about devoting resources. we are talking about dropping a zoning reg that forces builders to build more parking than the market will bear.
I was speaking more generally."

i was speaking specifically.

" As I said, I don't think dropping the requirements are going to lead to a noticeable amount of change. You disagree."

I do.

" But I also think that RPP apartments are a much better way to get fewer cars and lower rent."

one more time - you cant get RPP apts without a garage unless you change the code. They are not legal. Whats the point of RPP free apts WITH a parking garage?

"You seem to be assuming that there's some optimal rent level, and the focus on our development policy should be based on that. I disagree."

I think the rent generated by the market would be lower, and would be something like optimal ( i do not want to belabor econ terms) I see other large cities like chicago with large employment centers, that are more affordable. I think getting to that should be one important goal of development policy. Certainly artificially keeping rents higher should NOT be.

"The rate of growth in Loudoun county is faster than in DC.

Loudoun county has been one of the fastest growing counties in the US. Is it not enough for DC to be at the top – does DC have to be growing faster than everywhere else?"

This region is fast growing. Fast growing counties in this region are the more logical comparison than depressed parts of the USA. That people in this region stream to the exurbs is relevant, since one reason for more development near metros is to change that pattern. And I have no particular goal for how fast DC needs to grow - I think we should take away artificial obstacles, that keep the supply of units from growing as fast as demand has.

"We’ve been moving away from cars and we’ll continue to, even with parking minimums. I don’t see that trend reversing, and I don’t see it relying on the lack of parking minimums."

parking minimums are one of the policy levers we have that can impact that.

"Expanding the metro would bring substantive results. But there doesn’t seem to be much of a push to increase expansion (though I suppose the slow plod of the silver and purple lines is something)."

expanding metro is very expensive. It makes sense to more fully leverage the metro we have. As well as any new metro lines we build.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

I think there is a market for parkingless rentals/condos. Maybe they could make the building ineligible for RPP. Wouldn't that solve the whole thing? Builders would only do that if there was a market for it, and developers could still see a slighly higher profit AND lower rental rates.

by Alan B. on May 3, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

But it's guideline and there is an agreed upon number that puts housing costs as either affordable or unaffordable. Many in DC are spending way above that threshoold. That shows that DC is unaffordable.

It’s not useful as a guideline in and of itself. What is keeping up with demand? Building enough so that everyone who wants to live in DC can live in DC in the home they want and pay less than 1/3 their take home? Of course if someone making $1000 a month is paying $500 for a 2 bedroom in Dupont, you can’t say there isn’t affordable housing just because their over said threshold.

one more time - you cant get RPP apts without a garage unless you change the code. They are not legal. Whats the point of RPP free apts WITH a parking garage?

And one more time: “Right, but were talking about if we changed the zoning code to that instead.”

expanding metro is very expensive. It makes sense to more fully leverage the metro we have. As well as any new metro lines we build.

The purple line is going to be, what, $2.15 billion? If DC was to pay for a new line it’d be, what, $60/month for a decade on the top 50% of DC earners? Not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive. I don’t disagree that we should fully leverage the metro we have, and I don’t doubt that we will.

I think there is a market for parkingless rentals/condos. Maybe they could make the building ineligible for RPP. Wouldn't that solve the whole thing? Builders would only do that if there was a market for it, and developers could still see a slighly higher profit AND lower rental rates.

That’s pretty much my view. And there’d be less opposition to it.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

I seem to recall that AWalkerInTheCity posted in an earlier discussion that (s)he lives in Fairfax County. While certainly anyone is entitled to express an opinion, it is relevant, in evaluating the opinion, to consider whether (s)he is really familiar with the parking situation in DC neighborhoods.

by Angie on May 3, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

Angie

I was addressing points that relate to the nature of economics and the market in general. If anyone has specifics about a local parking situation I defer to them (although I spend a lot of time in the district) I would also note that the shortage of units in WUPs is region wide - and I do support policies to improve that in NoVa.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

"The purple line is going to be, what, $2.15 billion? If DC was to pay for a new line it’d be, what, $60/month for a decade on the top 50% of DC earners? Not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive. I don’t disagree that we should fully leverage the metro we have, and I don’t doubt that we will"

A. The purple line is a light rail taking advantage of unique circumstances, including a former rail line that had been converted to a trail. There are not many other places in the region where you will find that

B. Md sees the purple line as economically justified in part because of policies to increase density along it, policies that are in fact quite 'divisive'.

C. As is it is, its taken years to get that. Realisitically building new rail transit alone is not likely to be sufficient in meeting the regions need for units in WUPs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

Building enough so that everyone who wants to live in DC can live in DC in the home they want and pay less than 1/3 their take home?

Um, yes. That seems to be a pretty good goal. Meanwhile, you can think the 30% number isn't any good. That's fine, the standard is still there to show there is an optimum for affordability.

by drumz on May 3, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

@Angie

Good point.

by Chatham on May 3, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

@John Chelen

You can post your unedited version of events in the comments here, or I suppose you can send it to the editor of the blog.

That said, there are a few basic questions, which, as I understand it, are not at issue:

- There was a committee to review this matter which you chaired;
-There were members of the committee who disagreed with the overall premise of what was being produced and developed an alternative version;
-The committee rejected this more balanced white paper n favor of the one that was ultimately adopted;
-The Ward 3 Dems did not have discussion on presentation of both papers
-The Roberts Rules arguments enabled white paper proponents time to reel in additional votes DURING the meeting
-The Ward 3 Dems adopted the white paper with a whopping 23 votes in favor
-You and Shlley Tomkin are now touting this white paper as approved by a "super majority" of voters is the will of Ward 3

Is there any of this that you deny? Because I believe the Ward 3 Dems keep pretty good minutes which could be obtained for purposes of verification. There are many readers of this blog who have corroborated different aspects of Mr. Seelig's account.

by Ward 3 on May 3, 2013 10:58 pm • linkreport

@Ward 3: What this article shows, despite its exaggerations, is that a group of W3 dems opposed to eliminating parking minimums in the proposed zoning changes, won a procedural parlor game. Won it fair and square, btw, because if the delegates that left early really cared, they would have stayed and voted. But their victory actually amounts to very little: of what consequence is it, really? It is not worth the lather already spent on it.

by goldfish on May 4, 2013 8:01 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or