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Most mayoral challengers oppose reducing parking minimums

At a forum last month, four candidates for DC mayor argued against a proposal by the Office of Planning to relax minimum parking requirements in transit-rich areas of the city. Andy Shallal and Tommy Wells didn't address it directly, though Shallal argued for more parking capacity while Wells argued for reducing parking demand.

The Office of Planning (OP) is proposing changes to the zoning code that would let property owners choose the right amount of parking in the highest density downtown neighborhoods, including developing areas like NoMa and Capitol Riverfront. Elsewhere, the zoning code would require one space per three units in apartment and condominium buildings away from transit corridors and half that near transit.

This proposal is the result of multiple compromises by planning director Harriet Tregoning to satisfy opponents' concerns. If the response of mayoral candidates is any indication, Tregoning's compromises have resulted in only more demands for compromises, an outcome that many predicted.

At the forum, moderator Davis Kennedy, editor of the Northwest Current, asked the following question:

Some have criticized our city planners for reducing the amount of required parking in new apartment buildings in some neighborhoods and for allowing apartments in single family homes. The fear is that it will substantially reduce on street parking availability. Others feel if we did not reduce the new apartment parking requirements, as underground parking is so expensive, it would contribute to much higher rents. What do you think?
Kennedy asked a good question that fairly represented both sides of the issue. Here are the answers of each candidate, with the portions that directly answer the question in bold:

Muriel Bowser:

Bowser directly opposes OP's proposal, then argues that expanding alternative transportation is the better solution:

I think that the Office of Planning got this one wrong, and that's why I introduced emergency legislation that in some cases would limit the expansion of visitor parking. Walking in Georgetown neighborhoods, walking all around ward 2, people tell me that DDOT got it wrong and we stopped it working with your councilmember who joined me in that effort.

This is what I know: our city's roaring. We'll have 200,000 new people here by the year 2040 and not everyone will be able to drive. I approach our transportation system in a balanced way. We have to have excellent public transportation. We have to have excellent bikeshare or bike parking, bike lanes. And we have to have roads that work and the ability to park.

It's very important that we approach our entire transportation system with a balance. We asked the Office of Planning not to eliminate parking minimums, because that was their first plan, but to look at a way to manage it in a better way.

This has become the standard way for elected officials opposing OP's proposal to frame the issue, and Evans and Orange follow suit. But fewer parking requirements and more multimodal streets solve different problems. Reducing parking requirements prevents regulatory-driven overbuilding of parking, which induces greater demand for parking and streets and makes housing less affordable. Bike lanes won't do that.

What's also concerning is that she sees alternative transportation as needed because "not everyone will be able to drive." Everyone I know who uses bike lanes, buses and so on also is able to drive and does whenever they want to.

Jack Evans:

Evans goes the furthest in opposing OP's proposal, saying he would keep the 1958 minimum parking requirements currently in place:

The Office of Planning definitely got this wrong. I agree with keeping the parking requirements just as they are, and I'm joining with Councilmember Bowser and Councilmember Cheh to address that with the Office of Planning. Taking away more parking spaces in this city is a terrible idea.

What we have to do is focus on alternative means of transportation, something I've done in my 22 years on the Council. I served on the Metro Board and was the advocate for not only completing the 103-mile system that currently exists but for expanding Metro and someday we hope to have a Metro in Georgetown.

Secondly, bike laneswe have more bike lanes in Ward 2 than in all the other wards combined and we will continue to promote bike as another alternative transportation. Light railagain something this Council has supported, building the light rail system that will connect Georgetown to downtown and to the eastern parts of this city. So the alternative means are very important but keeping the parking as it is is also very critical.

He repeats Bowser's framing by saying that "what we have to do is focus on alternative means of transportation," taking credit for bike lanes in Ward 2 that everyone knows would have happened without him.

Reta Jo Lewis:

Lewis addresses the issue the least directly, offering general arguments for more parking. She says it would be "unacceptable" to "eliminate any parking inside of buildings," but minimum parking requirements apply to new buildings.

I served as the chief of staff in the Department of Public Works when it used to be called DPW. I want you to know that parking is one of the most important things any agency does when it deals with transportation.

Now I live right downtown, right on 5th and Mass. And I've watched everything get built. And what I've watched is not any more parking spaces coming on. And it would be unacceptable to allow our offices of administration to eliminate any parking inside of buildings.

What we have to do is continue to offer a comprehensive strategy, a comprehensive plan, of how residents, not just downtown, but in all of our neighborhoods, especially like Georgetown. In your 2028 Plan you specifically talked about parking. It is fair for us in communities to have parking spaces.

Vincent Orange:

Orange, like Evans, specifically supports the existing minimum residential parking requirement of one space per unit. His unique bit of unhelpful framing is to pit new residents against long-time residents:

I also think that the Office of Planning got this one wrong. There needs to be a proper balance. If you're gonna keep building units, then there at least should be a parking spot per unit. Clearly there needs to be a balance here in the District of Columbia. We're getting more and more residents.

But also that balance has to include those residents that have been here during the bad times, to still be able to be here in the good times, and allowed to travel throughout this city and be able to find parking. So there has to be a balance.

I applaud those that really are really studying this issue, to make sure there are bike lanes, there's light rail, there's transportation needs being addressed by Metro and others. But there has to be a balance. And I believe that balance can only be maintained by when you build units there should be parking associated with those units.

It's at this point that one notices none of the candidates have responded to Kennedy's argument for reducing minimum parking requirements, that it promotes affordable housing that enables long-time residents to stay in DC. Bowser and others have complained about the high rents on 14th Street for example, but part of those rents are needed to pay for minimum parking requirements.

Andy Shallal:

Shallal doesn't address minimum parking requirements, but offers complaints about insufficient parking:

I agree there's a problem, obviously, with parking. Owning a business in the District, it's very difficult as it is. And when my customers tell me they're having a hard time parking, it really makes it even that much more difficult to attract business and keep business.

It's very interesting: often times I will get a lease for a space to be able to open a restaurant, and then all the neighbors get upset because there's no parking there. I have nothing to do with the way that it was zoned and suddenly I am the one that's at fault and needs to find parking for all the people that have to come in.

The other I think we can't really address parking unless we address public transportation. I think that's one of the major issues is the fact that a lot of people want to see the Metro open later, especially on the weekends. They want to see it later. Maybe we can go for 24 hours. A lot of my patrons and my customers, my employees, would like to be able to see that.

The other thing is that increasing the hours of the parking meters is not working for many of my customers and I think we need to bring it back to 6:30.

This is concerning given that Shallal has made affordable housing a central tenet of his campaign. His platform doesn't include any positions on transportation.

His only position on parking that he offers in his response is that parking meters shouldn't be enforced after 6:30pm. However, this a peak period of demand for scarce on-street parking, and pricing on-street parking according to demand would be a better solution.

Tommy Wells:

While Wells is the only candidate to not offer arguments against OP's proposal, he also doesn't argue in support of reducing parking requirements. Instead, he uses the opportunity to argue for his bill to give OP the power to not allow residents of new buildings to receive residential parking permits:

I think that on something like parking, like everything else, we have to work smart. First thing is that if a building does put the parking space in there and everyone gets a residential parking sticker, we're going to wipe out all the neighborhood parking in Georgetown if they have the neighborhood right to park in the neighborhood. We have to be a lot smarter than that.

You know you've adopted a plan in Georgetown that does say that there be a new Metro station here. We'll bring in a streetcar system which I've been a champion of. As the city grows if our businesses are going to survive, and our local businesses, people have to come into Georgetown and out and they all shouldn't come in a car.

One of the bills that I've proposed (which I proposed last time, and this Council killed, and I've re-proposed) is when we have infill development and we put a building in there and they want anything from the government they negotiate that the residents at the building will not get residential parking. We can't build any more residential parking. And so, on the streets, we cannot add more spaces. So its more important to be smart.

While Wells' bill is good, it's disappointing that none of the candidates offered any arguments in support of scaling back parking requirements. Georgetown is a difficult audience with which to discuss minimum parking requirements, but if we are serious about affordable housing and not allowing our city to turn into a car sewer we have to address parking requirements directly instead of changing the subject.
Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

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Of course, parking is a DDOT/DPW issue, and the proposed zoning code, while relaxing minimums, does not "eliminate" parking in buildings. Ultimately, all of the politicians suggest that there are 200,000 new residents coming.

Let's turn the question another way: Can the roads in the city accommodate another 50,000-100,000 cars that these residents may bring? Can the roads absorb those additional cars in the context of the still more cars that new suburban residents will have? If the answer is "yes", then how? If the answer is "our roads are already choked and there is little room for more capacity" then we have to ask what is the most efficient way of spurring more, affordable development that accommodates the anticipated new people, not new cars.

I am glad however, that there seems to be unanimity in support for mass transit and multimodal roads.

by Andrew on Feb 11, 2014 12:10 pm • linkreport

Maybe once Muriel Bowser becomes Mayor, we'll finally hear the last of this silliness about reducing parking minimums

by ceefer66 on Feb 11, 2014 12:22 pm • linkreport

And are we ignoring public transportation in the city? DDOT alone is:

running and expanding bike share
has plans to put in more and better bike lanes (even if progress has slowed down considerably).
Building a streetcar network (including opportunities for transit only lanes).

It's just readily apparent that most of these candidates are talking out of both sides of their mouth. They say things need to change and then won't support any changes.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 12:25 pm • linkreport

Each of the candidates is right, in their own way. The notion of reducing parking minimums as much as lame duck Tregoning proposes is silly. A recent DDOT study in the Connecticut Ave. corridor between Woodley and Cleveland Park found that the side streets are pretty much 100% parked up, any time of day. It's also true that we need more emphasis on public and alternative transportation to reduce parking demand. Finally, Wells is correct that if you are going to build parking-less or parking-lite buildings, then DC should reduce or eliminate RPP eligibility for those projects.

by Alf on Feb 11, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

How about this question for the candidates: over half the city frequently takes transit, do you?

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 12:30 pm • linkreport

@Alf:
A recent DDOT study in the Connecticut Ave. corridor between Woodley and Cleveland Park found that the side streets are pretty much 100% parked up, any time of day.
Wouldn't that be an argument for actually charging for some of that parking? I'm pretty sure the capacity would not be completely full at all times if the price were nonzero.

by Gray on Feb 11, 2014 12:32 pm • linkreport

ceefer, thanks for the laugh of the day. I'll personally volunteer for Gray before I'll let anyone I know vote for Bowser.

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 12:34 pm • linkreport

A recent DDOT study in the Connecticut Ave. corridor between Woodley and Cleveland Park found that the side streets are pretty much 100% parked up, any time of day.

Yes. This is true in neighborhoods where most of the buildings pre-date minimum parking requirements, and it is also true in neighborhoods where the parking requirements are in place and applied to most new buildings.

Point being, if you want to solve the problem of on-street parking, requiring off-street parking via the zoning code will not solve your problem.

If you want to have a better experience with on-street parking, you need to regulate on-street parking. There are lots of ways to do this (pricing, meters, permits, etc), but you need to address this issue directly. Trying to address it indirectly via the zoning code doesn't work, hasn't ever worked (here in DC or anywhere else) and we shouldn't expect it to work.

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

Funny, just last night a prolific multifamily architect told me that all of his buildings in Mid-City have too much parking.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 11, 2014 12:43 pm • linkreport

Any city worth it's salt has a 'parking problem'. The 'worse' it seems, generally the better the city. Show me a city where it's 'easy' to park, and I'll show you a city that's easy to drive to, but not worth arriving at.

by Gee on Feb 11, 2014 12:44 pm • linkreport

Also, all of the responses ignored the part of the question about what they think parking has to do with the costs of housing. Apparently requiring space to be dedicated to cars rather than anything else is cost-free.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

You didn't mention Mayor Gray. I wonder where he stands (or will ultimately stand) on this? I would not assume that OP is representing his position. In my view, this -- paired with changes to the current RPP system -- is a sensible proposal for the reasons Andrew alludes to above.

by Caroline Petti on Feb 11, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

It seems like Gray is going to take his time naming Tregoning's replacement, but I have a hunch that will pretty much tell us where he stands.

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

I'm not surprised at all. This lot of candidates is the same old, same old. At the same time all these new residents that move into the city aren't participating in the political process either cause they're registered independent (making them ineligible for the Democratic primary), or because they see how the candidates are - to put it mildly - a little bit old in their ways of thinking. Rather, it seems that the newer crop make their presence know through their walking, biking, and transit footprint. While the political rhetoric is all about the status quo, there are more pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, etc. As the number of residents that are actually not driving grows it starts to show and politicians become surprised when they're auto-centric views get push-back. They're like "where did all these people come from?"

I also agree with Andrew. The math is against their status quo. Eventually the car-centric world and the rest start bumping up against each other in such a way that a choice has to be made. A good example of that is the 16th street buses, that only take up 3% of the road space but take 50%+ of the commuters. At some point the diet has to begin...

by dc denizen on Feb 11, 2014 1:22 pm • linkreport

Is there a parking problem in DC? Huh. I've never noticed. It must really suck to have car storage add so much angst and consternation to your life...

by rg on Feb 11, 2014 1:27 pm • linkreport

Seems to me the burden is on the parking minima proponents to show why, for this one commodity, the free market fails to provide the exact amount of parking that people are willing to pay a market price for.

by Crickey7 on Feb 11, 2014 1:32 pm • linkreport

Seems to me the burden is on the parking minima proponents to show why, for this one commodity, the free market fails to provide the exact amount of parking that people are willing to pay a market price for.

Because of the existence of heavily subsidized, nearly free on-street parking.

by Falls Church on Feb 11, 2014 1:38 pm • linkreport

Did Reta Jo Lewis even understand the question being asked? So often, it seems like she has absolutely zero clue about anything. ask her a question requiring only the slightest understanding of the details and time and time again she proves she has no grasp of even the bare bones.

by Birdie on Feb 11, 2014 1:45 pm • linkreport

Because of the existence of heavily subsidized, nearly free on-street parking.

This doesn't answer Crickey's question.

Free on-street parking is part of the marketplace, but it still doesn't explain why the zoning code is a better way to determine the right number of spaces to build than the market.

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

Personally, I really like ice cream. I think that grocery stores should be required to sell a minimum amount of ice cream. If they have to lower prices on ice cream, sell it at a loss or even give it away, that's totally OK with me (they can just charge more for other food to make up for it) because I want to make sure that I always have plenty of cheap ice cream available. That ice cream isn't particularly good for me is irrelevant as well.

It might be interesting to know if DC's mayoral candidates also support minimum ice cream sales laws.

by David C on Feb 11, 2014 1:49 pm • linkreport

Falls Church,
Yes, but as we're constantly reminded. Parking on the street is a right and thus any change in the city that could lead to someone taking "your" spot is to be fought vigorously until the very end.

Also, the conventional wisdom is that changing the street parking in DC is political suicide. Even though, no one has really proposed any substantial reforms (outside of guest passes and adding more RPP blocks) in a while to see what sort of response there is.

But apparently in a situation so untenable the best policy is to do nothing. Even though all it'd take is one candidate to host some sort of parking forum to take the lead on this and people actually talking about it rather than just assuming that there is nothing to be done except demand more parking.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 1:51 pm • linkreport

If developers were allowed to forgo parking for each affordable unit, there would be more of them. Whole buildings could be built without parking.

by Steve on Feb 11, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

Because of the existence of heavily subsidized, nearly free on-street parking.

This doesn't answer Crickey's question.

Yes, it does. He asked why the market fails to produce the right amount of parking people are willing to pay for. It fails to do so because of the existence of heavily subsidized parking. Why produce expensive parking when there's nearly free parking to be had?

To David C's point, if the government provided free ice cream, grocery stores wouldn't be selling any (unless there were requirements to sell a min amount). How can you compete with free?

by Falls Church on Feb 11, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

Crikey was being rhetorical. He wished that was the question that had been asked as a follow up to all the candidates. Presumably, none of them would have given the answer you have and that's the problem.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 2:18 pm • linkreport

Also, the conventional wisdom is that changing the street parking in DC is political suicide.

In this case, I think conventional wisdom is correct if we're talking about a change where the losers would be easy to pinpoint while the winners would be widely dispersed, some of whom may not have even moved to the city yet.

by Falls Church on Feb 11, 2014 2:20 pm • linkreport

I think conventional wisdom is correct if we're talking about a change where the losers would be easy to pinpoint while the winners would be widely dispersed,

It totally depends on what's proposed and what the aims of the proposal are.

So far the only proposals have been are:

1. Keep parking minimums (though they don't help street parking at all and can make it worse).
2. Make more RPP blocks (this is effective though it's not exactly transformative)
2A. Make it easier for guests to park on RPP blocks to mitigate one of the side effects of having more RPP blocks.

People are finicky in that they want free AND easy parking but surely there is a politician out there who could begin asking residents in a sensitive way that they may only get to pick one.

If we can get a politician to concede point 1 publicly then we can definitely start working on ways to make everybody happy on RPP reform.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

He asked why the market fails to produce the right amount of parking people are willing to pay for. It fails to do so because of the existence of heavily subsidized parking. Why produce expensive parking when there's nearly free parking to be had?

The error in your thinking is that there is one correct answer to the question of what the 'right' amount of parking is.

The nearly-free on-street parking alters the equation, just as the existence of a regulatory mandate does.

And yes, the question was rhetorical: why is one market distortion OK, while another is not?

To David C's point, if the government provided free ice cream, grocery stores wouldn't be selling any (unless there were requirements to sell a min amount). How can you compete with free?

You compete on quality. Again, there is no 'right' answer to how many parking spots the market will demand. The market is different for each person, each housing unit, etc.

In Downtown LA, where they got rid of parking minimums (and all on-street parking is metered, thus there is no concern about spillover), the end result was a wide range of market solutions to the 'problem.' Each offered a slightly different product to solve the parking issue.

Some developers offered off-site parking. Some offered on-site. They all offered different numbers of spaces. The developers all targeted different types of renters/buyers for their units, just like how car makers target different segments of the market with different products (sports cars, minivans, station wagons, etc).

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

Drumz,

If you get rid of parking mins, parking won't be as free/easy as it is today. As you stated, free/easy parking is what many people want (even more than a small percentage decrease in the cost of housing), so it seems like getting rid of parking mins is unlikely to be popular with many people.

Reducing the level of free/easy parking will be a lot more immediate and obviously impactful to people than a small percentage decrease in the cost of future housing. It's a political loser even though it's a logical, rational, and efficient policy.

In my mind, it's like advocating for free trade. The small percentage decrease in the cost of goods you buy at the store is a lot less apparent than the Americans who lose their jobs to people in China.

by Falls Church on Feb 11, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

I'm going to stick with street parking since the battle on parking minimums appears to be over.

There are still a number of politically savvy/necessary things one could do in order to grease the wheels of change. One that is often proposed is denying RPP to new buildings (under certain circumstances).

You could also,

- grandfather the 35$ fee for existing residents while upping it for newer people coming in (thus acheiving the policy's goals through attrition).
- meter every block that needs it and simply exempt residents from having to pay/time requirements.
- Be explicit that money that would go to parking facilities go to other community improvements, like a proffer system. Some would rather just take the parking but others wouldn't and then that way neighborhoods can help decide for themselves a little better than they could before.

And re: your free trade example. Yes, it does suck for the factory worker who loses his job but now that the policy is here, it's much harder to convince the public at large that they should pay a little more in order to keep more jobs at home.

It may well turn out that a parking system that is more expensive yet more available is more popular than the current cheaper/less availbale one.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 2:51 pm • linkreport

If you get rid of parking mins, parking won't be as free/easy as it is today.

Assuming facts not in evidence.

Also, the idea that 'free' parking and 'easy' parking are two associated concepts in a high-demand urban area is antithetical to the basic economics of supply and demand. Our limited supply of parking is oversubscribed when it is provided for free (hence it is not 'easy'), so we can manage it with price to make it easier to find a space (hence it is no longer 'free').

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2014 2:53 pm • linkreport

Also, the idea that 'free' parking and 'easy' parking are two associated concepts in a high-demand urban area is antithetical to the basic economics of supply and demand.

Getting the candidates (and residents they're pandering too) is the challenge though. BUT, if you can get one of the candidates to admit to it I think the electoral challenges aren't as insurmountable as people think they are. Mainly by bribing the problem residents.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

*getting the candidates to recognize or at least admit this fact is the challenge.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 2:58 pm • linkreport

Drumz,

Your proposals are rational but politically radioactive. Denying RPP to new buildings in particular is a good idea that will likely generate howls of protest from folks who argue that it's unfair and discriminatory.

by Falls Church on Feb 11, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

I don't think they are that radioactive though. At least, not with proper framing.

If you say you're going to freeze RPP at 35$ for existing residents but raise it for newcomers then the existing residents will be happy in the knowledge that parking won't get more expensive AND less people moving into the neighborhood will be bringing cars and its a safe hedge to assume that most newcomers will never know any better and if they do find out and are mad then good luck to them finding a politician who'll want to lower RPP prices. Especially if that money is going to a popular program (since the first 35$ only goes towards maintenance of the RPP system).

I think that's doable in much of DC today.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

If you get rid of parking mins, parking won't be as free/easy as it is today.

It's more complicated than that. For some residents, specific instances may be cheaper, but their total parkign cost higher because they are currently forced to overconsume. So, not cheaper in the aggregate. In addition, these people who are forced to consume parking in their homes will own more cars than people not forced to consume parking, and those cars won't spend all their time at the residence. More cars may make it harder to find parking.

So it's not so clear whoat will result. Only that it will be less wasteful.

by Crickey7 on Feb 11, 2014 3:08 pm • linkreport

Bowser: Gosh, she really wants to be seen as a progressive, but has opposed any efforts to make transit better in her own Ward. I like how she takes credit for getting OP to soften its stance. She has opposed new bus infrastructure in here Ward and the next time she supports a bike lane will be the first time. On the 1- 5 smart growth meter, she gets a 1.5

Evans: who needed clear access on Wisconsin Avenue to take his kids to and from private schools in Ward 3 because Reno Road has too many lights. I am surprised he's pandering as much as he has, knowing that he has a lot of developer friends. I trust him being truthful about this not at all. BTW: he had little if anything to do with Ward 2 bike lanes. He gets a 2.5 on the smart growth meter because I think he can be bought by developers who need to get something done

Orange: Not much to say about Vince except for him again invoking his devotion to the old-timers in town. He owns that rhetoric. He too has developer friends, so I believe him little. But if it came to it, he'd rip out all the bike lanes. He's a 1 on the smart growth meter.

Wells: Tommy means Well (was that a pun?) on the RPP thing, but I'm against disparate treatment for new residents in favor of old-timers. This issue can be better managed with higher on-street parking rates. Yes, even for someone like me who has lived here for 30 years. He gets a 4 on the smart growth meter.

by fongfong on Feb 11, 2014 3:35 pm • linkreport

It's a bit bizarre. If I proposed free and plentiful housing which is a bit closer to an essential human need, people would call me a good damn socialist, but suggest that parking is under priced and well people would probably still call me a socialist.

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 3:59 pm • linkreport

I'm just hoping Bowser and Evans both stick it out in the long run because they will split a good portion of the anti-growth vote in NW, effectively nullifying them both.

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 4:02 pm • linkreport

Don't forget about neighborhoods where residents really do park for free. If your block isn't an RPP block (and my entire neighborhood is RPP-free), you can park your car on the street at zero cost.

Granted, the trade off is now you don't have an RPP sticker to park anywhere you'd like in that ward. But still, free parking. Silly, really.

by Birdie on Feb 11, 2014 4:09 pm • linkreport

Don't forget about neighborhoods where residents really do park for free. If your block isn't an RPP block (and my entire neighborhood is RPP-free), you can park your car on the street at zero cost.
Granted, the trade off is now you don't have an RPP sticker to park anywhere you'd like in that ward. But still, free parking. Silly, really.

A No-RPP block implies that parking is pretty easy on that block (or else people would petition for RPP). If space is plentiful, why would we charge people to park there?

by MLD on Feb 11, 2014 4:33 pm • linkreport

A No-RPP block implies that parking is pretty easy on that block (or else people would petition for RPP). If space is plentiful, why would we charge people to park there?

Why should to storage of private vehicles in public space be free?

by Birdie on Feb 11, 2014 4:41 pm • linkreport

It's not really a question of "should" but a question of "what's the value/price of this spot"?

Some places the value of that parking spot is effectively 0. It's probably ok if it stays free.

Of course, that also assumes that parking is the best use of the space. It might be better to put a wider sidewalk or bike lane there as well. Those should be prioritized over parking.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 4:45 pm • linkreport

Are we wishing that space was available for some other pressing matter? Parking on the sides of streets keeps traffic speeds down, and provides protection for pedestrians.

We're talking about pricing things in some accordance with the demand for those things; if the demand for parking on non-RPP blocks is very low then shouldn't the price also be very low or maybe zero?

by MLD on Feb 11, 2014 4:47 pm • linkreport

...and if people can just park on the street in a situation where a parking lot would otherwise be required, that's a good thing as well.

Also, we all pay for parking one way or the other. Sometimes we pay with money, and other times we pay with time spent looking for an open spot. Some may prefer to spend their time rather than their money but I think its too inefficient to really help anybody.

by drumz on Feb 11, 2014 4:54 pm • linkreport

@BTA

Interesting perspective. Haven't seen or thought about that, but I can definitely see it happening. Not sure how Bowser gets to Gray +1, given the other challengers, thank goodness.

by Kyle-w on Feb 11, 2014 5:29 pm • linkreport

The real race might actually end up a Gray / Catania match up though you'd have to heavily weight that in favor of Gray.

by BTA on Feb 11, 2014 6:58 pm • linkreport

if the government provided free ice cream, grocery stores wouldn't be selling any (unless there were requirements to sell a min amount)

That was the premise.

by David C on Feb 11, 2014 8:58 pm • linkreport

It would be nice if we could get a truly progressive candidate in the race. There certainly appears to be an opening for one. The urbanist agenda has come a long way in the past few years, but it's disappointing when we still have mayoral races and the only choices are dumb and dumber.

by aaa on Feb 12, 2014 7:33 am • linkreport

Why do these discussions always end up on RPP? Why not have government owned/run paid garages like the ones in Bethesda and DTSS or the ones in San Francisco run by Muni?

For instance the garage near Georgia Ave & King St was redeveloped into apartments on top but the part of the garage on street level was retained to allow for parking.

by cwpp on Feb 12, 2014 11:01 am • linkreport

Why build municipal garages if the government is already apparently underpricing its street spots?

by drumz on Feb 12, 2014 11:15 am • linkreport

How does one determine what's fair price for on street parking? Is it the level at which the curbsides are emtpy?
Is that practical or reasonable?

by cwpp on Feb 12, 2014 11:34 am • linkreport

Going by Donald Shoup's rules (he's a huge name in urban studies when it comes to parking) you'd want a price that translates to roughly 85% of spots being taken on a given block/area. Some places that price may be zero but in others it could get steep.

http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/

Indeed on many downtown/popular neighborhood blocks you'd see the price go up. But you'd also have a pretty good guarantee that there is a spot availble close to where you're trying to park. So now instead of paying with your time and gas-mileage looking for a place to park you're spending money. Money that can then be used by the city to improve public transportation options that mean less people need to drive.

Of course if you'd rather not pay as much you can park further away.

There are pilot programs being tested right now in DC (columbia heights and the ballpark) with meters that adjust to demand in certain ways.

Certainly it's becoming more feasible every day.

by drumz on Feb 12, 2014 11:47 am • linkreport

If I recall correclty in the SF model, they had a number of blocks where parking costs went down because they never filled up. It didnt zero out but some 6% went down to 25 cents an hour. http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/sfpark-hourly-meters-actually-saves-motorists-money/Content?oid=2319269

by BTA on Feb 12, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport

Ugh. This is pathetic for a supposedly liberal, progressive city. If any politician is actually able to show any sort of leadership on this, they get my vote.

Arguing that we have "not enough parking" is like saying we have "not enough free soda". Yes, putting government resources into making it cheaper or easier to find may make a good number of people happy, but what kind of society will it produce?

by TransitSnob on Feb 12, 2014 12:43 pm • linkreport

There's an argument to be made that DC is neither progressive or particularly liberal, just majority democratic. Bowser, Orange et al pander to their respective bases but isn't that what a good pol is supposed to do? Fenty was fired by the same base that elected him to the council and subsequently mayor.

What looks like good policy to some appears to others as too much change and ignoring the people who elected that person to represent their values and viewpoint.

by cwpp on Feb 12, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport

@BTA,

"ceefer, thanks for the laugh of the day. I'll personally volunteer for Gray before I'll let anyone I know vote for Bowser. "
----

You're most welcome.

And you're free to volunteer and proselytize for whichever candidate tinkles you pink. Just keep in mind that the last DC Mayor who catered to the car-hater set is now living in California.

In the meantime, enjoy your bike. I'll try not to splash when I drive past.

by ceefer66 on Feb 12, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

Doesn't matter how mean spirited you want to be, ceefer. She's still going to lose, hard.

by BTA on Feb 12, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

So it's car haters who voted for Fenty? That's a pretty good sized voting chunk of the city. We're probably in good shape then.

by drumz on Feb 12, 2014 2:09 pm • linkreport

"Mean spirited"? LOL.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by ceefer66 on Feb 12, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

ceefer, if you want to have a private conversation, the comment board of a public blog is probably not the right place to do that. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by David C on Feb 12, 2014 3:30 pm • linkreport

You know how you can tell a no-RPP block?! All the off-duty DC cabs parked there, waiting for the next driver to come along. [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Bob on Feb 12, 2014 4:52 pm • linkreport

IMO, the question of reducing or eliminating parking minimums as a general proposition in DC is simple. Look at the example of Portland, Oregon. Portland is generally considered a well-run city (free from much of the cronyism, corruption and sheer ineptitude that traditionally has characterized DC's government). It's also been a laboratory and incubator for planning and other municipal governance processes, Portland eliminated parking minimums in new projects, and it was a spectacular failure, People watched as their neighborhoods became parking lots as all the residents in the no-parking developments overwhelmed the surrounding area with with vehicles. Residents were very unhappy, and the Portland city council reversed course. With the benefit of that experience, why would Tregoning et al want to foist the same failed experiment on DC, Isn't that the definition of insanity? -- doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result.

by Alf on Feb 12, 2014 5:00 pm • linkreport

Portland eliminated parking minimums in new projects, and it was a spectacular failure,

For it to be a failure there first has to be evidence of it failing.

Consider:

Perhaps that's because it's not really hard to park there. In a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) survey, most residents said that they usually park on the street 1-2 blocks from their homes and most spend little time looking for parking.

It isn't clear that a parking problem exists in Portland today. Plus, building more off-street parking will not do anything about visitors patronizing the new bars and cafes in the area. That's especially true as long as parking is free on every street in the area. No matter how much garage parking new buildings have, many people will find it more convenient and cheaper to park on the street until the city limits on-street parking or charges for it.

from,

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/18551/politics-not-good-sense-drive-portland-parking-minimums/

So apparently the new minimums were installed as a way to forestall future problems (dubious though, they could have just required less units instead).

So apparently Portland has done fine without parking minimums and there's no evidence that the minimums would make it easier to park on the street anyway.

by drumz on Feb 12, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

Portland eliminated parking minimums in new projects, and it was a spectacular failure,

Please define 'spectacular failure.' The changes certainly inspired lots of people to complain, but that alone isn't evidence of failure.

People watched as their neighborhoods became parking lots as all the residents in the no-parking developments overwhelmed the surrounding area with with vehicles.

Again, do we have evidence of 'overwhelming' the streets? Yes, people parked on the street. All of the analysis I read showed that there was still lots of on-street parking available. In other words, there was not a problem of finding on-street parking. To boil that down even more: there was not a problem.

And even if there were, we've already addressed the simple maxim of parking regulation: regulate your parking directly. If you are concerned about on-street parking, then regulate that on-street parking (with meters or permits or boston-style chairs in the street, or some combination therein).

Residents were very unhappy, and the Portland city council reversed course.

In other words, it was a political failure. Sounds like the policy worked just as planned.

With the benefit of that experience, why would Tregoning et al want to foist the same failed experiment on DC,

Most of this city was built out before the 1958 zoning code was established. Eliminating required parking is simply a return to the kind of planning that made DC great; the kind of zoning policy that helped shape a great city.

The real concern would be misunderstanding the lessons from our own 1958 code or from changes in Portland and failing to update our own code.

by Alex B. on Feb 12, 2014 5:12 pm • linkreport

The Portland "thing" came up at last nights Zoning Commissions hearing at Wilson High School. I hope someone going tonight or tomorrow will please raise this and define it as a counter argument. I would hate to see this canard be used without defense before that body.

by Andrew on Feb 12, 2014 5:22 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by ceefer66 on Feb 12, 2014 7:26 pm • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

Anyway, it was implied that Adrien Fenty was anti car and that was why he lost.

A: i dispute the notion that he was anti-car, especially when mayor gray hasn't really reversed anything Fenty did. Grays explicit concern was about the pace of changes rather than the changes themselves.

B: and that's because the election was pretty close. Which Gray realizes and that's why he's abandoned some projects through neglect rather than just ending them. But not many, he got A LOT of pushback for trying to stamp out the streetcar in te middle of the night.

So I don't think Bowser is as strong as people think and her weakness is running explicitly to the right of mayor gray on issues like transportation and parking.

by Drumz on Feb 12, 2014 8:04 pm • linkreport

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