Greater Greater Washington

Parking


A municipal parking garage for 14th and U? It would not come cheap

A number of businesses and residents around 14th and U Streets are interested in trying to create a municipal parking garage in a large government-owned parcel on S Street. Is this a good use of the land? What if it cost $4 an hour, or required heavy subsidies from the DC budget?


Image from Bing Maps.

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation now uses the property, 1325 S Street NW, to park vehicles and for other service uses. Proponents of a municipal parking garage suggest an above-ground parking structure lined with retail or residential, or an underground garage with buildings or a park on top.

But those advocating for the garage assert that it would pay for itself. Based on a quick analysis based on numbers from parking experts, it seems likely that such a garage would have to charge $3.50-4.50 per hour just to break even.

Do those supporting this garage idea realize that would be necessary? Or, if a garage would require significant ongoing subsidies to operate, is there a good reason to spend public money on making parking cheaper in the hot Logan Circle and U Street area?


Image from the DC Zoning Map.

A committee of Logan Circle's ANC 2F heard a presentation on the concept in January, as did ANC 1B in March. The concept is getting support as a part of a larger effort to establish a Business Improvement District for the area, and the JBG Companies, which owns a lot of properties nearby, has given $150,000 to help set up the BID.

A lot of the impetus is coming from the Studio Theatre at 14th and P, which, the presentation said, saw "significant reductions in their show subscribers and customer base, largely due to the lack of available public parking."

Arguments for the garage

Recently, many residential blocks in the area got the "red sign" parking restrictions that limit parking on one side of each street to residents with the appropriate ward sticker (1 or 2, depending on where in the area you're talking about). That has made parking easier for residents (or people driving in from places like Mount Pleasant or Georgetown in the same wards) but even scarcer for others.

The presentation to ANC 2F claims that there are not many buildings with "abundant nighttime parking" in the area, and that "case studies of many great urban areas show how centrally-located public parking facilities solve transportation issues and spur economic development (locally, including Clarendon, Bethesda, and Shirlington)."

Architect Roger Lewis praised the idea in a recent column for the Washington Post, where he suggested cities need a "flexible approach" to parking. He said,

Along 14th Street for several blocks north of P, public parking is a scarce and expensive commodity. Moreover, the nearest Red Line and Green Line Metro stations are a half mile or more away, just far enough to be a challenging walk for older folks, for people with disabilities and for parents with very young children in tow. ...

Either the city or a parking garage operator could construct and manage the garage, which would be self-financing. From such a garage, people could comfortably walk or hop on a local shuttle to reach their destinations.

How much would this cost?

Is this a good idea? Certainly parking is often difficult in the area. If one could make parking easier, without any costs or tradeoffs at all, that's not a bad thing. But it's always important to understand the proposal clearly.

There are plenty of arguments to be made about the garage. I will get into most of those in part 2. First, we need to talk about cost. How much would this cost the DC government? How much would people pay to park? Often in these discussions, people make assumptions that turn out not to be true. Let's delve into them.

Lewis suggests a garage would be "self-financing." What does that mean? Does it mean that a private company could afford to buy the land at market price, build a garage, run it, and break even? (Probably not, because if that's true someone would probably have done it).

Does it mean that the city would lease the land for free to the operator, who would then build a garage and maintain it? Or would the city have to pay for a garage which then an operator could maintain?

Many suggestions to build parking (like the National Coalition to Save Our Mall's proposal for the National Mall) assert that garages will pay for themselves, but often without numbers to back up the assertion.

Fortunately, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has some detailed research on the cost of parking structures. Their report estimates that an urban parking garage costs about $18,000 per space to construct, and $600 per space per year to maintain. Karina Ricks of Nelson\Nygaard says DC has higher costs than around the county, so $20,000 would be a better estimate.

If a property pays no taxes, therefore, the annualized cost of construction per space, plus maintenance, is $1,569 to $1,744 at a 6% interest rate. With operating costs, that's $181-195 per space per month. Already, this rivals the cost one would pay for an off-street space in the neighborhood, meaning that the revenue from parking is unlikely to even pay for just constructing and maintaining this garage.

Plus, we haven't even talked about land. This property is about 2 acres. The square to the west, once you get past the commercial area right along 14th, has about 120 townhouses in 5.74 acres. The property assessment database shows that DC assesses the land for each townhouse at $400-500,000, so at an average of $450,000 per townhouse, that's $9.4 million in land value per acre in this area, comparable to what VTPI lists for center cities in most of the country.

For a 4-level parking structure of 130 spaces per level, that's $36,000 more in land costs per space; for a smaller 3-level garage, it would be over $48,000. That adds $263-$351 per month to the parking cost.


Image from the ANC presentation.

Oh, and that's just if the garage is above ground. Move it underground, and your construction cost skyrockets. Ricks says DC construction costs usually run around $60,000, or $5,231 per space. That makes the monthly cost per space about $486 per month with operating costs, even if you ignore the cost of the land entirely. You can do that to some extent because you can still build something else on top of the garage, though that building then becomes more expensive, and having a commercial garage below diminishes the value of whatever can be built there.

The price per hour to break even is...

How much would the garage have to charge per hour to recoup these costs? Ricks said that a very generous estimate would assume the garage averages 70% full each day over an 8-hour peak period of 4 pm to midnight.

This assumes the garage is totally full at the busiest times, like Saturday at 8 pm, tapering off toward the edges with low occupancy on weeknights at 5 or 11 pm. There will be little if any revenue from the daytime in this area, which has few offices except the Reeves Center, which has its own garage.

If Sundays and holidays stay free, that is 270 days per year. With the numbers from above, the garage would have to charge $3.52 to $4.33 per hour just to recoup its costs, whether it is underground or above ground.

You can see all of the math and calculations on this spreadsheet (XLS).


Image from the ANC presentation.

Would people really park in the garage?

So, we've got a parking garage which costs $3.50 or $4 an hour to park in. To go to 14th or U for dinner, that would set you back maybe $10-15. The presentation to ANC 2F CDC suggests that a garage would "relieve parking pressure on nearby streets and reduce circling." That's only true if it is considerably more desirable than parking on the street.

Right now, it's not. At night, it's free to park on the side of the street which isn't reserved for residents of the ward. Lots of people (including myself) circle for long periods of time in Georgetown to find free spaces or cheap metered spaces even though there is pay parking, because the cost is so different.

If this garage has to pay for itself, it would provide some parking, but that probably wouldn't be cheap enough to dissuade people from trying for a street space. We could change the on-street policies to charge more of a market rate there, but then would a garage be necessary?

For those who don't want to circle, there are businesses with valet parking on 14th and U already. Le Diplomate, for instance, has valet parking for $12. It seems that there are options to park if you are willing to pay a market rate, and building a garage wouldn't lower the market rate.

One problem with many of these parking proposals is that they assume, on the cost side, that the garage would make so much revenue to not cost the public anything, but on the other hand they assume that the parking is cheap enough to not cost the public much there either. It can't be both.

Cost isn't the only reason to build or not build a garage. In the next part, we'll look at other arguments for and against the proposal.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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1. $4 an hour would be just fine for Studio Theater attendees I imagine (though last tiime I went to Studio Theater, I had no trouble scoring a free spot in the street, but then I like to walk in the city (are you surprised) so going several blocks away was no problem.
2. Parking would probably not be a problem if it were more appropriately priced. Score one more pseudo problem created by the current RPP program
3. It could be worth subsidising, if it would get the entire area to shut up about density, parking, the war on cars, etc. But thats unlikely to happen, eh?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 10:52 am • linkreport

Right now, it's not. At night, it's free to park on the side of the street which isn't reserved for residents of the ward. Lots of people (including myself) circle for long periods of time in Georgetown to find free spaces or cheap metered spaces even though there is pay parking, because the cost is so different.

This really nails it. Look at the places in the city that already have parking garages. Do people tout those places as havens for drivers who park? I don't see that - I see the same complaints about the lack of street parking.

Land here is expensive. Parking is expensive. This ain't Nashville.

by MLD on Apr 9, 2014 10:54 am • linkreport

The car traffic on 14th is turning into a real nightmare.

Really, you need to start taking resident only parking out of the mix. And also restrict valet parking.

I don't know if one public garage is the answer, but a more distrusted solution in terms of allowing access in multiple garages would be better. Of course some idiot out there suggests we build more condos without parking so the street gets used up more.

by charlie on Apr 9, 2014 11:03 am • linkreport

A number of businesses and residents around 14th and U Streets are interested in trying to create a municipal parking garage in a large government-owned parcel on S Street.

Then they should put their money where their mouth is and buy it and build it on their own.

Anyway, I can see some of the arguments. Especially if we're going to make much of the street parking in the area resident only but I don't think that's the best response either (I think the city should just meter every block in the area and then exempt residents from having to pay). But you can't make the argument that it will pay for itself AND be cheap.

by drumz on Apr 9, 2014 11:08 am • linkreport

We need more hourly parking garages in DC. It is very frustrating that most garages are commuter garages that charge a flat, daily rate. It is pretty annoying to have to shell out a 'daily' fee of $15 for a 2h dinner, with a big 'early bird $12' sign for it.

Aside from that, parking rates in DC are pathetically low.
Here's the parking rate map for Amsterdam (which is similar in population as DC)

Parkeertarieven

These rates are in effect from 9 or noon to midnight.

by Jasper on Apr 9, 2014 11:10 am • linkreport

Gotta meter the street and increase the cost of RPP before you build a garage.

by Richard on Apr 9, 2014 11:13 am • linkreport

Charge the same amount as the meters (meters aren't cheap on an hourly basis) and if the businesses think this is a value add, they can validate and eat the costs themselves.

There should be muncipal garages like this all over the city (H Street comes to mind). People playing the street parking circling game are a menace. They cause traffic to build up around these areas and can cause accidents as out-of-towners attempt to parallel parking.

Georgetown is a bad example because their garage charges a ton- people will play the circling game if its a way to avoid being ripped off and feel taken advantage of. Nobody minds parking at the new garages in Columbia Heights.

by 11luke on Apr 9, 2014 11:14 am • linkreport

I doubt garages even in downtown DC make enough profit to really justify building them if there weren't already regulations saying you had to have parking in the building. Hence why they are not open on the weekends or in some cases at night even. And why they charge all-day rates only.

by MLD on Apr 9, 2014 11:14 am • linkreport

"The concept is getting support as a part of a larger effort to establish a Business Improvement District for the area, and the JBG Companies, which owns a lot of properties nearby, has given $150,000 to help set up the BID. "

Like Drumz said, this would be a good thing for the BID to pay for.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 11:15 am • linkreport

Georgetown is a bad example because their garage charges a ton- people will play the circling game if its a way to avoid being ripped off and feel taken advantage of. Nobody minds parking at the new garages in Columbia Heights.

In Georgetown they charge a ton because that's what parking actually costs!

In Columbia Heights the charge basically only pays to maintain the garage since building it was a huge sunk cost by the city because the retailers demanded it. It's never full. AND, people STILL circle for parking in Columbia Heights.

by MLD on Apr 9, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

I'm not dead-set against public parking garages, as I understand that we need to maintain a balance between the residents and visitors that help make DC's neighborhoods successful. That said, there are a lot of concerns:

1. No garage will be successful if "free" street parking is still available. RPP restrictions should be 24x7 with pay-by-phone available for visitors. People point to Bethesda as an example of a "successful" municipal parking garage without noting that is is absolutely impossible to park on the side streets.

2. How full is the garage at the Reeves Center? It's only a couple blocks away and I don't know that it is ever full either, possibly because of the problem noted above.

3. Traffic on and around 14th and U Streets is as bad (and possibly worse) on nights and weekends than at rush hour. One sure-fire way to increase the total number of vehicles in the neighborhood is making more parking available. That said, perhaps we should just give up on this point since traffic is just a sign of a successful area.

by Adam L on Apr 9, 2014 11:23 am • linkreport

The garage isn't going to make economic sense if you are aiming to recover the cost of the land. It only makes sense if you consider the garage an amenity like street parking and are only aiming to recover the cost of construction and maintenance.

The question is -- is parking part of the vehicular transportation network and thus deserves to be subsidized like all other vehicular (and non-vehicular) transportation? I'd say parking is part of vehicular transportation. Determine how much subsidy you want to allocate toward that form of transport and then determine how you want to split that subsidy between roads and parking.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport

DDOT should do a survey of how much new on-street parking could be created through steps such as consolidating and rationalizing bus stops, relocating street signs, allowing parking on both sides of the street where parking is currently allowed only on one side of the street.

I would not be surprised if dozens of additional curbside spaces could be created through steps such as this.

by 202_Cyclist on Apr 9, 2014 11:28 am • linkreport

I live literally a block away, on S between 12th and 13th, and I pass this lot on my way to/from the bus every day. I've always found it a huge waste of space and finding more productive uses for the property would be an excellent idea.

If it will allow awful Maryland drivers a destination rather than them speeding around through stop signs and nearly hitting my dog and me on a daily basis, I think I'm for it. Sort of. I don't know. Do we think that would induce more vehicular traffic into the area? Because that would be pretty terrible.

More seriously, above ground would be an eyesore. Put it underground, with some seriously dense residential above, and ideally some more retail on S St. (though I doubt it's zoned for that; I think it should be).

And more directly to your point: is $4.50 an hour considered expensive? Having lived in Boston most of my life (and then in London), that sounds cheap to me. Make it $5 or $6 an hour and I am pretty sure you'll still see that garage massively utilized.

Of course, it's even more likely that I'll really never be able to get a seat at Garden District. But that was difficult anyways.

by LowHeadways on Apr 9, 2014 11:28 am • linkreport

Well since its not yet feasible to charge for use of city streets, and it is quite feasible to charge for parking, my first order estimate is that 100% of whats spent to support driving should go for roads, and zero for parking. Unless someone can present a good argument for that the benefit of the garage exceeds its cost. So we are back to square one. And since the benefits almost certainly accrue almost entirely to the local businesses and their customers, a strong case can be made for having the BID do it. Thats likely also to result in more efficient operation, more attuned (in things like time based pricing, etc) to local needs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

Georgetown is a bad example because their garage charges a ton- people will play the circling game if its a way to avoid being ripped off and feel taken advantage of. Nobody minds parking at the new garages in Columbia Heights.

It's true, you have to make the garage parking attractive. However, part of the problem is that on-street parking is too cheap, no matter the garage price.

It's the old Seinfeld clip that Don Shoup cites: why should I pay for parking when, if I apply myself, I could get it for free?
http://yadayadayadaecon.com/clip/38/

And it's true - people don't mind parking in the garage in Columbia Heights - but not enough to actually fill the garage (meaning more still like the opportunity for free parking on-street) and certainly not enough to make the garage pay for itself.

None of this prevents the city from dealing with on-street parking management. Build the garage, you'll still have to manage on-street parking. Don't build the garage, and you'll still have to manage on street parking.

by Alex B. on Apr 9, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

Well since its not yet feasible to charge for use of city streets, and it is quite feasible to charge for parking, my first order estimate is that 100% of whats spent to support driving should go for roads, and zero for parking.

Just because it's not possible to charge for city streets doesn't mean that all the subsidy has to go to streets. While some of the streets budget goes to necessary maintenance, a good deal goes to discretionary spending that could be re-allocated toward parking.

Why should all the subsidy go to people trying to drive through a place and none go to the people actually going to the destination and supporting the local businesses there?

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 11:34 am • linkreport

Shouldn't we also wait and see what happens with the redevelopment of the Reeves Center as part of (hopefully) the DC United deal? If it is mixed-use and an office building is built on the Reeves property, then this parking could be used as shared-parking in the evenings/weekends for visitors.

by 202_Cyclist on Apr 9, 2014 11:35 am • linkreport

i like the idea of the park ontop and lining the street with new row houses to hide it. I dont have a problem with it if those are included.

by corey on Apr 9, 2014 11:37 am • linkreport

Do we think that would induce more vehicular traffic into the area? Because that would be pretty terrible.

Possibly. But also bear in mind that about 20-30% of traffic in a city comes from people looking for parking.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 11:40 am • linkreport

"While some of the streets budget goes to necessary maintenance, a good deal goes to discretionary spending that could be re-allocated toward parking."

The discretionary spending presumably passes a (informal) cost benefit test. If not, it should cease, and could be reallocated to anything - from transit to schools to tax cuts. There is no reason, IMO, to determine a level of spending on roads, or roads plus parking, before examining if there benefit cost positive things to spend it on.

"Why should all the subsidy go to people trying to drive through a place and none go to the people actually going to the destination and supporting the local businesses there"

because given that it IS feasible to charge for parking, and that apparently what the people going to those local businesses are willing to pay is not enough to cover the costs, that suggests as a first order approximation that the garage does not pass a cost benefit test.

Now I am quite open to arguments that my first order approximation is wrong - there could be complexities involving pricing, there could be externalities (all those circling cars) there could be benefits to local businesses. But again, those cases need to be made - simply saying well we spend X on roads, so lets allocate part of that to parking is not compelling, IMO.

And note, to the extent the argument for is based on benefits to local businesses, it makes abundant sense to have said businesses chip in some or all of the subsidy - and the BID would seem to be the logical vehicle to do that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 11:44 am • linkreport

My girlfriend lives near the Navy Yard metro, across the street from the Nationals "U" parking lot. The east side of the street is all houses, and the west side of the street is a gravel parking lot. A few months ago, the city decided to install parking meters on the west side of the street, which had previously been 4-hour limit zone 6 parking. Those spaces instantly went from being 50%-100% utilized to exactly 0% utilized, although it did make parking on other streets more difficult. After several weeks of this, the parking meters were decapitated and the spots were returned to zone 6 parking.

I don't understand why anyone would think that people would be willing to pay for parking when free parking is everywhere. It's not rocket science. What I'd like to see is for the green sign hour-limit spots to turn into resident only (free) or anyone else (paid). Also, make RPPs a lot more expensive. If you take away free parking, people might be willing to pay for it!

by Ampersand on Apr 9, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

I'm actually quite ok with some (adaptable) municipal parking. Seems like most parking is aimed at commuters and I don't know if that matches up with other parking needs in terms of location and availability. There are a lot of problem with parking policy but I say if four people want to carpool into DC instead of taking transit that should be a viable option too. The other sign of the Shoup "30% of congestion is people looking for parking" is that we should provide some easily located parking options near attractions. I think they should charge full price OR let the BID subsidize it if they wish. I think the issue is scale. Could 200 spots be plenty? I think probably that is better than 600 spots etc.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

The discretionary spending presumably passes a (informal) cost benefit test.

Well, with city streets, none of the benefit is revenue since none of them are tolled. The benefit from streets is that it provides people with a transportation option that fosters economic activity (and some would argue provides a convenience that has a value). The same benefit comes from parking.

So, if you're saying that we should hold streets and parking to the same benefit-cost test, then we're in agreement. However, I don't know if the spreadsheet linked to in the article does that. Although, I realize there's a part 2 to this article where the author may be doing exactly that.

because given that it IS feasible to charge for parking, and that apparently what the people going to those local businesses are willing to pay is not enough to cover the costs, that suggests as a first order approximation that the garage does not pass a cost benefit test.

The fact that you can charge something for parking improves its benefit-cost vs. streets.

All I'm saying is to evaluate streets and parking using the same methodology. Roughly that would mean adding up the costs of construction, maintenance, and land/ROW and weighing that against the benefits in terms of increased economic activity and in the case of parking, revenue.

Actually, now that I think about it, non-tolled streets also produce revenue through gas taxes. So, you'd have to add some amount of revenue to the benefit side of streets too.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

le Diplomate is obviously subsidizing valet parking for it's customers so that comparison is moot. The one tiny surface lot at 14th and S (soon to be condos) charges $30 plus tip and that's the going rate around here. Unfortunately the fine for illegally parking is also $30 so guess what...

$30 for nights and weekends would stay full so it would pay for the garage building but probably not the land potential worth.

The opponents nearby want a park here, which in most places would be ideal. But DC is not about to pay for a park. There's no kickback from developers in that! The proponents want a garage. That's not happening either.

A sane temporary solution would be to park all those DC buses anywhere else and charge $30 nights and weekends for the lot there.

Eventually DC will give this lot to a developer/political contributor for condos. It was part of the Alkridge soccer stadium swap negotiations. If the mayor's son runs up more outrageous strip club tabs in the next 9 months it may happen sooner.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 9, 2014 12:03 pm • linkreport

I see this as similar to the existing parking garage along 18th St NW in Adams Morgan (18th near Belmont). How is usage at that facility? Are the rates comparable? Has the world ended because of that garage?

I think a garage at this location is a great idea and will contact my council member saying so. As mentioned before, traffic on 14th is increasing and drivers circling the blocks looking for parking is not a good situation. Even if this garage is built with all or some public financing, that's why I pay taxes. This would be, to me, a much better use of tax dollars vs. stadium projects.

by Transport. on Apr 9, 2014 12:05 pm • linkreport

"The fact that you can charge something for parking improves its benefit-cost vs. streets"

no, the charge, like the gas tax is just a tranfer (from users to govt) The cost is the actual cost to build the project, and the benefit is the actual benefit to the user (though to simplify BCA will typically take the revenue as an offset to cost, and not directly address user benefits when there is a charge). The difference between a parking garage that charges $4 for an hour, and a road that charges zero, is that we can assume that $4 represents the real benefit to the user. Whereas its very unlikely that the real benefit to road users is zero.

Note that when there is an artificial limit on what is charged for a public garage, and that amount is clearly well below the market clearing price (as for example at some WMATA garages) its very likely that the incremental user benefot of an additional spot is ABOVE the parking charge.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 12:07 pm • linkreport

also, it's odd that ANC 2F had this meeting. Because of the fools who kept the northern part of Logan Circle in Ward 1 last re-districting, this side of S over there isn't even in Ward 2.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 9, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

though to simplify BCA will typically take the revenue as an offset to cost, and not directly address user benefits when there is a charge

Yes, there's a difference (but not much of one) between using revenue to offset cost and calling it a benefit.

At any rate, your methodology is fine and I'm sure there are other methodologies that are equally as fine. Just use the same methodology to evaluate both streets and parking.

I hope in the next article in which the author looks more closely at the benefit side of the equation, he also provides a comparison of the cost-benefit of this project to road projects so we have a benchmark for comparison.

If the point of this article was to say that parking revenue isn't going to equal parking costs (just as gas tax revenue doesn't equal spending on roads) then I agree.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 12:24 pm • linkreport

@ ALex B

I have no sympathy for the folks circling the blocks in Columbia Heights and causing traffic backups because they don't want to park in the cheap garages. There's an easy way to solve that: just make everything metered (apart from the limited in-zone only section) and make it cost the exact same as the garage.

It needs to be push-pull. Incentivize people to do the right thing and park in a garage by making it easy to do (lots of extra spaces are a good thing!) and allowing businesses to validate. But punish them for trying to Costanza the situation and find a space by raising the price of meters to the same as the garage and be even more vigilant about tickets, etc than usual. Drastic measures are needed. Some folks upthread who live nearby are trying to figure out ways to stop people from driving there and just wishing they could have the area all to themselves. I don't think that's a great attitude and if that's how you want to live your life, move way WOTP. Its a popular commercial area; people are going to flock to it by transit, by car, by foot. The challenge is how to manage that and I think providing more parking is the way forward.

by 11luke on Apr 9, 2014 12:24 pm • linkreport

This is a really bad idea. Pouring traffic onto S Street and clogging the intersections with 14th and 13th would be nightmarish. I sympathize with the businesses in the area. I like using several of them (and I drive to the area to do so). DC needs to get serious about public transportation investment, namely more metro routes/tunnels/stops, improved buses/service, and taxi/car service. Wasting money on trolleys and parking garages is not the answer. And while improved bike lanes and bike share are great, overemphasis there too misses the mark.

by Mitch on Apr 9, 2014 12:25 pm • linkreport

Why does the spreadsheet depreciate the parking structure over only 20 years? The latest guidance from the IRS is 39 years.

See page 7-1 of the below:

https://tax.thomsonreuters.com/wp-content/pdf/ppc/QDE_RedlineChanges_Comb.pdf

That puts the monthly construction+operating costs for an above ground structure at $150-161.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 12:38 pm • linkreport

"he also provides a comparison of the cost-benefit of this project to road projects so we have a benchmark for comparison."

I think thats arbitrary - there is no fixed budget for parking plus roads.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

We have a circulator bus here that goes to plenty of unused parking at DCUSA a few blocks north and downtown a few blocks south. The bars and cafes need to start a program using those empty garages offering free parking and free Circulator. (Also lobby for a Circulator stop at 14th and S).

After a bunch of $14 cocktails the cafes can afford to give patrons a one-buck bus ticket and pay a small fee to garages. Especially if it will get those drunks to their cars parked far out of my neighborhood.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 9, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

"he also provides a comparison of the cost-benefit of this project to road projects so we have a benchmark for comparison."

I think thats arbitrary - there is no fixed budget for parking plus roads.

Ok, then let's see the cost-benefit for a representative sample of government projects and compare this garage to those projects. I agree that would be a more accurate benchmark but if to simplify he only provided roads as a benchmark, I think that's good-enough-for-blogger-work.

I agree that there's no fixed budget for roads+parking but that's true for any spending that's not mandatory with permanent appropriations like Social Security.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 12:50 pm • linkreport

"I agree that there's no fixed budget for roads+parking but that's true for any spending that's not mandatory "

which is why the standard methodology for BCA is simply to see if the benefits exceed the cost, not to compare it to other projects. That only makes sense where there is a particular budget cap on a funding source.

Which there is in fact, fairly often. For New Starts, for Tiger Grants, and as there will be for projects before NVTA. But in each of those cases you do the BCA and then compare specifically to projects looking for funding from that source.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 12:55 pm • linkreport

They would need to keep DC USA parking open from 12am-5am then. But yeah I think it's a good idea. We need way more circulator service from Woodley Park to Franklin and they really need to judiciously add a couple more stops, I say 14th and Euclid/Clifton and 14th and S (or R) would make sense. I think they've erred a little too far on the side of limited service considering how many many people still use the 50s.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

The residents of 14th and U street are not in favor of a parking lot. This is a terrible idea that is being proposed by ANC 2F. The property does not have the support of ANC 1B where the property is actually located.

How is it that ANC 2F promotes new developments within its borders with zero parking requirements while seeking parking lots in adjacent ANC 1B?

by 14th and U resident on Apr 9, 2014 1:06 pm • linkreport

But in each of those cases you do the BCA and then compare specifically to projects looking for funding from that source.

Ok, then the comparison should be to all other spending from the source in question, which I assume is DC's General Fund.

by Falls Church on Apr 9, 2014 1:11 pm • linkreport

There's a difference between 'self-financing" and "pay for itself" in terms of a municipal project. If the lot facilitated development of the site and/or brought more business to the neighborhood, it would create a lot of value added for the city. As for whether the value of any other business on the site would be adversely affected, it depends on the business. While there is already a glut of furniture stores, one with parking there would be much more convenient and attract customers. Ditto for a big box store or a Whole Foods type of supermarket. They might even subsidize parking.

Also, for theater-goers who don't want to spend time circling looking for parking, this would be a nice addition, even if the number of spaces would be limited. While Ton Coumaris' idea about a circulator running from other unused garages sounds promising, I wonder if suburban drivers would ever know about this option and depend on it.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Apr 9, 2014 1:12 pm • linkreport

FC

ah but even the general fund is not fixed, because taxes can be raised or lowered. Its really much simpler with a general fund capital expenditure to just look at the Bens and costs in isolation from other projects.

Though as someone who has done BCA for a living, I can only approve of attempting to get DC to do BCA on not only every capital expenditure, but every single operating expenditure line item. And expanding that to all other states and localities. ;)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 1:15 pm • linkreport

"While Ton Coumaris' idea about a circulator running from other unused garages sounds promising, I wonder if suburban drivers would ever know about this option and depend on it." The Studio theater subscribers would know, cause Studio theater would inform them.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 9, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

The one main problem I see with the particular siting is that it's wholly located off S st. Really for structured parking ideally you should two entrances on different streets for redundancy and to disperse traffic a bit especially on narrow streets like that. Also it is worth noting that there is just about no public off street parking up there. This isnt like a proposal to put a new parking lot next to a bunch of others. That said I would be opposed to much municipal subsidy, if its feasible it should at least break mostly even/be paid for by the businesses that would reap the benefit.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 1:24 pm • linkreport

Instead of a parking garage, why not set up a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes and does a loop from the Dupont Circle Metro to Mcpherson to U St metro. All metor lines are covered and the elderly, disabled or those with children in tow would be amply served by public transport.

by misha on Apr 9, 2014 1:28 pm • linkreport

Baltimore and Annapolis both have free circulators partially geared toward getting people from parking garages (and Metro in the case of Bethesda) to other parts of downtown. You'd have to do some calculations to figure which one pans out best in terms of cost effectiveness.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 1:34 pm • linkreport

if combined with measures to reduce or eliminate on street parking for visitors who - as noted above- tend to circle , speed. make illegal u turns and go through stop signs in search of free parking, then this is a great idea. People parking in a garage won't be chatting loudly outside my front door at 2 am with the engine running.

by egk on Apr 9, 2014 1:37 pm • linkreport

Based on the number of people I see out in this part of town, there might be issues with parking, but not with getting people here. This part of town is packed.

“Studio Theatre at 14th and P, which, the presentation said, saw "significant reductions in their show subscribers and customer base, largely due to the lack of available public parking."
A lack of people being able to get to their theater is not the cause of their subscriber issues. They instead might want to look at where they’re located and improve their marketing to that massive customer base right outside their front door.

“case studies of many great urban areas show how centrally-located public parking facilities solve transportation issues and spur economic development (locally, including Clarendon, Bethesda, and Shirlington).”
What percentage of people in Clarendon, Bethesda and Shirlington head out in their neighborhoods without a car versus in the 14th and U Street area? Centrally located public parking facilities are successful in these places because the population density is not sufficient for walking and public transit to thrive. Even those who live within walking distance to their destination or to transit often times elect to drive because driving is easier due to these centrally located parking facilities.

“If one could make parking easier, without any costs or tradeoffs at all, that's not a bad thing.”
If you make parking easier, more people will elect to drive. Would more people elect to drive as opposed to not coming at all, or would more people elect to drive who otherwise would have taken public transit, car pooled, walked, biked, etc…It would probably be a mix. Either way, it would increase the number of cars in an already congested area. It certainly wouldn’t “solve transportation issues”.

by UrbanEngineer on Apr 9, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

I'd contrast this to Clarendon -- traffic is not great in Clarendon but because of the huge garage under the market you've got a fighting chance. I have to think the parking jams at Whole Foods are mostly people being lazy and not wanting to walk a half block.

by charlie on Apr 9, 2014 1:40 pm • linkreport

misha: That's a great idea. Have it go to Columbia Heights and Woodley Park instead of Dupont, make it every 10 minutes instead of every 15, and call it the Circulator.

http://www.dccirculator.com/Home/BusRoutesandSchedules/WoodleyParkAdamsMorganMcPhersonSquareMetro.aspx

by David Alpert on Apr 9, 2014 1:43 pm • linkreport

Oh, and add one from U Street to Dupont and then Rosslyn as well.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/22376/gray-boosts-transit-in-his-final-budget/

by David Alpert on Apr 9, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

Sell it for pro\ivate development, which could have parking as a feature, and put the land back on the tax rolls.

by GWalum on Apr 9, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

PRIVATE - oops, typo. Should have previewed it!

by GWalum on Apr 9, 2014 1:51 pm • linkreport

Sell the land, and let developers build what is of the highest demand there. I guarantee the market isn't asking for more parking.

It's outrageous that the government should subsidize parking, given the many negative externalities of more people driving an parking in the area. If anything, the government should sell the land and put the money towards better transit, biking, and walking in the area, all of which have many positive externalities.

by TransitSnob on Apr 9, 2014 2:12 pm • linkreport

Its worth pointing out that Dupont to 14th st is very walkable as well. It's about 6 blocks of pleaseant residential sidewalks from the Circle heading east. So besides people with disabilities, there is a good amount of transit available already.

I do think there is something to be said for a few smaller municipal parking garages around town, the secret would be incorporating it into a mixed use development and not trying to put too much parking in a la DC USA or even the Union Station garage. I'm thinking of like New York where you see lots of little parking garages that fit like 100 cars all over the city.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

Start at the goal and then implement whatever gets us to that goal. Hopefully the goal is a liveable, walkable, safe urban environment. Traffic clogged streets with cars crossing sidewalks to enter and exit garages do not those make. I think the best first steps are to let visitors and residents who wish to occupy city square footage with their private vehicles pay market rate to do so--just as residents pay for the space their houses occupy--while at the same time investing in transit to give people a viable alternative to driving. In Zurich they designate certain streets as zones where pedestrians have the right of way to cross the street anywhere, not just in crosswalks. But they don't do that until transit is in place to compensate for the loss of drive-ability.

by likedrypavement on Apr 9, 2014 2:29 pm • linkreport

Call me a curmudgeon, but as a resident of ANC 2F without a car, I am strongly opposed to anything that attracts more motorized traffic to the neighborhood. I will certainly voice this opposition if it gets discussed at the monthly meeting.

by Atlas on Apr 9, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

@David. Lol, yes I'm a fan of the circulator but Roger Lewis seemed to indicate than even if the garage was built, 13 & S is still too far to walk for patrons of the Studio Theater. If having a shuttle that runs to McPherson too closely resembles the existing Circulator route, maybe the BID can pay for one that runs from DuPont to U St metro, and forget about the whole parking garage.
I use to live in Logan Circle and drunken Virginians arguing with each other about who was "sober enough" to drive at 2am was a common enough occurrence (even back in 2010!) that I can't see an upside to encouraging more drivers to enjoy the nightlife that 14th street has to offer. At least if they take public transport, they have time to sober up a bit before they get to the end of the metro line (and can sleep it off in their cars in the parking lot if they need to).

by misha on Apr 9, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

This is the most ridiculous idea on the planet. There is absolutely no way anybody who is not an absolute idiot would park here.

First off, I don't know anybody who drives in the city and parks in a garage except my mother. Every one of the rest of us will just circle and circle for however long it takes to get a free / cheap street spot. The only times my car EVER goes in a garage in town is at one of the grocery stores, and it's because they validate so the parking is completely free. If they charged, even if it was just a dollar, I'd look for a street space instead. People will do the same thing here.

Secondly, let's assume you want to be out for a couple hours, maybe three. You're looking at $15 minimum to park there. Why would you do that, especially considering you're probably going to have to walk a few blocks to get wherever you want to go anyway? It's much easier and cheaper to park five or six blocks away from your destination and then hail a cab or take bikeshare for the last couple blocks.

Third, and this is most important, you can't see this garage from 14th Street or from U Street. It will either need awful lit-up signage to be visible or it will become a little "secret garage" that most visitors to the neighborhood don't know about at all.

It's been my experience that people who say "I won't go to neighborhood X because there's no parking! If they built a garage, then I would go there all the time!" are sort-of lying. I think it's accurate that they THINK they would go all the time, but the reality is they won't. They don't avoid that neighborhood because there isn't any parking. They avoid that neighborhood because they don't like active urban neighborhoods like that. Parking is the excuse, but the reality is that parking is just the first part of their problem with the area. If you take that away, they'll still stay in the suburbs because now they don't like the crowds, or the noise, or having to wait for a table, or any other element that makes it a dense urban neighborhood. If they really would be there all the time if only transportation wasn't an impediment, they would *move* there and be able to walk. They live in Falls Church / Hyattsville / Huntington / White Flint / wherever for a reason. That's the type of place that they like. That's the type of place that they go to all the time.

And that's okay! But we need to stop trying to cater to their excuse about why they don't come, realize that they aren't coming, and get on with our day.

by ShawGuy on Apr 9, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

I would be really interested to know if the claim by Studio Theatre that "no parking" is the reason for their bad sales is based on any sort of data, or just conjecture.

by MLD on Apr 9, 2014 3:20 pm • linkreport

The Victoria Transport Institute? Really? Couldn’t find anything more specific to DC other than the hearsay from a DC planner with zero construction, engineering or real estate capital markets experience?

I get that anything car related gets the stink eye on GGW, but throwing about completely bogus and highly subjective numbers does more to make your opponents case, than it does harm against it. For example Mr. Alpert, you authored a post not 6 months ago where you tagged the price of subgrade parking at $30K-50K. Now all of a sudden it all costs $60K per space? That’s quite the variation in a very short period of time.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/20796/zoning-commission-grills-aaa-on-parking-minimums/

Instead of making the numbers up, why don’t you approach one of the two largest GC’s in the area (Clark or Turner) and ask them for some recent comps. They build above and below grade garages in DC every day, so they have plenty of up to the minute cost data to share.
Then approach one of the 3 parking companies in town that combined own 70%% of all parking spots in DC and operate 99% of them for some actual DC data on cost to operate and maintain.

Now, as a long time developer in the DC area who has personally managed the development of about 15 million sf of office, residential and mixed-use real estate inside the DC beltway the past 12 years, I can tell you, that you are significantly off.

I can also see that we didn’t bother checking the bond markets. DC revenue bonds, including basis points are currently priced at 4.75%, not 6%. Pretty significant difference…

The land costs. Did you really price the land of a landlocked alley the same as fee simple, high priced residential property tax? You couldn’t ever build townhouses there, so assigning that value to the property underneath is completely bogus. You could have just as easily said the land valuation is 5 billion dollars. I mean, it “could” be worth that in the year 2454, so might as well use it now. Makes about as much sense. The property today is assessed for a total of 8 million, not 18 million.

Lastly, the aforementioned construction costs. You are way off. I downloaded your excel sheet and to equalize the comparison, I assumed a 3 level, 400 space garage for each three categories.

Three levels above grade is running between 15K and 17K a space (assuming no top structure). Three levels below grade based on the project I just finished last fall downtown DC is approximately 42K per space (assuming structural supports for a 12 story above grade office structure built above).

The most expensive underground parking I’m building now is on Bethesda row, which is 4 levels below grade and cost 49K (now you can figure out who I work for). I don’t know where people are getting 60K per space. It certainly isn’t common unless you are going 6 or 7 levels down, I’ve never heard of it in DC.

You plug the above numbers in to that same excel sheet (interest, cost, land) and your cost comes out to be $1.83 to $2.58, or 53% to 57% lower than the costs listed here.
“Based on a quick analysis based on numbers from parking experts, it seems likely that such a garage would have to charge $1.83-2.58 per hour just to break even. Do those supporting this garage idea realize that would be necessary?”

Yes, I think they do, and I believe they would also support it without wildly inaccurate “guesses” and supposition.
“Lots of people (including myself) circle for long periods of time in Georgetown to find free spaces or cheap metered spaces even though there is pay parking,”

Tsk tsk Mr. Alpert. That’s about the least urbanist and environmentally friendly thing someone like yourself who lives (as the crow flies) 1.3 miles from the intersection of M and Wisconsin Avenue.

by parkingguru on Apr 9, 2014 3:36 pm • linkreport

Great idea and good revenue generator for the city. I've only been clamouring for years for DC Gov't to use its many ill-used or vacant properties for municipal parking.

I think the costs to maintain the garage are clearly exaggerated. If it's covered, you don't have as many maintenance costs like snow removal, etc. and you don't need a cashier/attendant like at many garages, e.g., in Mont. Co. and NYC.

by Burd on Apr 9, 2014 3:51 pm • linkreport

Studio Theater is a strange impetus for this. I walk 14th and S to 14th and P a couple times a day and it's no short hike. P, Church, Q, Corcoran, R, Riggs, S...6 blocks.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 9, 2014 4:09 pm • linkreport

It's been my experience that people who say "I won't go to neighborhood X because there's no parking! If they built a garage, then I would go there all the time!" are sort-of lying. I think it's accurate that they THINK they would go all the time, but the reality is they won't.

I'm going to counter your anecdote with my own: hi, I'm exactly the person that says that.

I used to have a place so close to a Metro station that I could hear "step back, doors closing" when I had my windows open. I'd go downtown Saturday or Sunday every weekend and often both days. A lot of times, I'd leave work and have dinner downtown or whatever on weekdays.

Then, about a year ago, I changed apartments and now Metro takes three times as long as driving, so I drive for work. The car has to be out of the garage at work by 8, which killed any weeknight staying downtown because the car has to be moved somewhere else. On the weekend, Metro is such a massive pain the butt that the travel times are absurd to the point of making me just decide to do different things. There's no way I'm going downtown and paying what feels like a king's ransom to park. I'll go downtown once every couple months, mainly if something interesting is in a museum. I miss a lot of places I used to eat. Matchbox in Chinatown is one of my favorites in the whole area. Merrifield gets my pizza-dollars now. I only cross the river for work these days or for Union Station. Weekends are almost entirely spent in Virginia or very far out of the city.

Slogging through traffic in a vain effort to find a place to stash the car really did cause me to change my patterns. I can't even remember the last time I went to Utrecht to get art supplies. Used to be a quick hop off at Metro Center.

by Another Nick on Apr 9, 2014 4:13 pm • linkreport

Uh, if one of your favorite places that you wish you could drive to is a Matchbox, Merrifield definitely seems right for you.

by albuterolgonzales on Apr 9, 2014 4:47 pm • linkreport

Wow. Do people really think that on street parking is pedestrian friendly and parking garages aren't? I would rather have wide sidewalks and a garage than street parking and narrow sidewalks and no garage. Having a garage makes palatable lots of street design changes (dedicated transit lanes, bike tracks etc) thatwould remove on street parking.

by egk on Apr 9, 2014 6:14 pm • linkreport

4$ an hour for a non-Metro parking lot in the city is reasonable. What would make it even more reasonable is discounts or timed validations from local businesses or times/days it's free. Paying much for parking digs into the fun-funds.
IA with egk about parking garages.
Metro/WMATA did some smart thing with the power corporations about bright, energy efficient lighting at their garages.(You got to clap at all their good decisions, in hope more will happen) I hope new garages by private owners look into doing the same.

by asffa on Apr 9, 2014 7:02 pm • linkreport

ShawGuy you're so right. I don't drive into DC if I can help it, but I'm relieved when I know there's a parking garage if that's the only way in. I'm atypical I guess since I really hate circling streets looking for spaces. The Metro has stunk so bad on weekends I have definite plans upcoming and I'm worried it'll be a nightmare. Weekdays the Metro works great coming out for evening plans if I want to leave around 8, but then it's useless for returning home since it stops running so early.

by asffa on Apr 9, 2014 7:17 pm • linkreport

14th and U has tons of mass transit: A Metrorail station, a Circulator Bus, and frequent Metrobus service, making it one of the most accessible places in the District. It also has parking available at the Reeves Center, and at two other parking garages. The last thing the neighborhood needs is a parking garage that encourages patrons of the local restaurants to drink and drive when they should be taking transit or taxis.

The cost analysis in the article is great, but it does not take into account the opportunity cost to the District of using a valuable 2-acre site in a rapidly developing neighborhood for parking. The best use for the site is for a mixed-use development that will generate significant tax revenue for the District without attracting more cars. Fortunately, there is an organized and vocal group of residents working to Stop the Garage and to encourage the District to develop the site in a more rational way.

by GAB on Apr 9, 2014 7:22 pm • linkreport

A few weeks ago I went out to dinner on 14th Street from 20712--where I live because I dislike active urban neighborhoods--and headed straight for the Union Row garage. We had a six-month-old with us so I was glad I could avoid the stress of hunting for street parking.

by 20712 on Apr 9, 2014 8:19 pm • linkreport

Street parking is generally better in that it provides a buffer between the street and the pedestrian environment. That said in places like downtown DC where traffic moves slow enough and ROW comes at a premium is when I see value in shifting towards more structured parking. Surface parking lots always come in last, hopefully we can agree on that one.

by BTA on Apr 9, 2014 8:28 pm • linkreport

Just checked the DC Zoning map and this whole property is R-4, like most of the neighborhood. The maximum that can go in is 2-unit rowhouses 40' tall with only residential uses.

A parking garage is a non-starter. Never get that variance in R-4.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 9, 2014 9:26 pm • linkreport

@Adam L--

You are correct about Bethesda. The restrictions not only force parking in the garages, but they also dampen public opposition to denser development nearby and ensure that different land uses can co-exist in close proximity. The enforced 24/7 parking restrictions and traffic calming on the side streets make it possible to maintain relatively quiet single family residential blocks in Edgemoor or north Chevy Chase, only blocks from the bustle of Wisconsin Ave. and Bethesda Row.

by Alf on Apr 10, 2014 7:52 am • linkreport

1) Even at $30, the small lot at 14th & S is always full nights, which obviously shows that there's demand. Even people who (like myself) are firmly opposed to *ever* paying for parking will cough up if circumstances require it. So if the proposed new lot on S was even half that price, many would use it. Not all, or even close to all, but many-- including the ones who are in a super hurry (see #3 below).
2) Even 10 years ago, it was a head-scratcher that the city was parking buses in one of the more desirable sections of town. Now it is ludicrous. It's an asset they can use better (if they keep it). In the short run, DC govt should find a way to use the existing paved lot for paid parking at night. Shouldn't be that hard and the city could make some $.
3) The nighttime looking-for-a-spot scene is getting quite dangerous. A bad mix of cars in a hurry, slightly buzzed pedestrians, and pissy locals ("I'll just walk right across 15th in front of a wall of traffic anytime I like! After all, it's my legal right!"). Suggestion #2 won't make this problem worse, but certainly won't make it go away. Going to a mix of 80% RPP only and 20% metered parking would help a bit, but pedestrians acting less like human speed bumps would help too.
4) Bethesda's model seems like a good outcome. People know they're going to pay when they go downtown there, and they accept it. Restaurant scene has been thriving for a good two decades under those circumstances. But we can't get to that outcome without a big lot that we don't currently have.

by Jake on Apr 10, 2014 9:49 am • linkreport

Apropos of this discussion: in this year's Best of DC from the City Paper...

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bestofdc/goodsandservices/2014/best-boondoggle

by Alex B. on Apr 10, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

And this garage would be about half the size of DCUSA. I can't imagine it being more than 4 stories either way. Especially if you're going to try and cloak it with townhouses.

by drumz on Apr 10, 2014 10:35 am • linkreport

Just sent this in to my ANC2F commissioner as well as cc'ing the general emails of 2F and 1B:

We Have Parking Garage Supply & Don’t Use It
If the garage is privately operated, you can be positive that the rates will be steep: just like every other privately-operated garage in the vicinity (indeed: throughout DC). I would suggest evaluating other privately-run garages nearby, and as confirmed with my own data: these garages sit largely empty overnight. Some even close due to the lack of demand. We already have the supply, it’s just that it’s too expensive – people vie for on-street parking, which is cheap (and in most cases free).

Furthermore, the occasional visitor likely doesn’t even know those garages exist, and the frequent visitor is far more likely to know where to go to find on-street spots. Granted, that can be a moot point due to valet services (some of which use the existing garages), which allows door-to-door parking service today and is not experiencing any capacity problems.

Public Costs
If the garage is publicly operated, it’d either have to aim for market rates in order to try and break and operating profit, and even then it won’t come close to paying off the capital costs. There’s a reason no one constructs for-profit garages in DC. If we keep costs low, it’s a waste of limited government resources that could be better spent elsewhere, and for questionable gains.

Traffic
What we would gain would be more traffic, assuming people actually used the garages, whereas I again note they don’t use the ones we have now. When retail seeks it most – on evenings and weekends – is the time when the 14th Street and U Street corridors are most choked with traffic. This would only bring in more, including the noise arising from angry and distraught motorists as well as the emissions as their vehicles slowly step along the streets.

Alternatives: Parking Pricing
If we want to be serious about parking, we need to resolve what the mission is- the spaces are being occupied by two very important constituencies: us local residents, and the paying customers to our neighboring businesses. As it stands: both are getting ridiculously cheap parking- visitors can largely park for free given how few metered spots there are (and even then: sans performance parking goals+metrics, meters are also cheap), and the fact that I pay only $35 for an entire year of parking in the center of the Capital City is rather astounding.

My car just sits there, taking up a space… really I could probably get rid of it & free up one space, but there just hasn’t yet been a pressing need. And there are many others like me who have moved here with their cars but haven’t yet gotten rid of them- the only time most cars on my block move is when we switch them to the other side of the street for street sweeping.

Increasing RPP costs, expanding metering, and implementing performance parking mechanisms would not just be a much faster way to resolve parking supplies – indeed, the intent of performance parking mechanisms is to effectively guarantee a parking space to those who need it – but it’d do so while bringing more money into the city rather than expending it.

And for the rest of us: we have a high quality transit system (even if we users may deride it on a daily basis) that readily connects throughout both the city and metropolitan region, and is far safer for potentially inebriated visitors to use on their way home. To that end I would instead urge to ANC to support an additional Circulator Stop around S Street and increased bus frequencies on WMATA's lines along 14th, U, and P Streets -- all of which will be considerably cheaper than the cost of additional parking.

by Bossi on Apr 10, 2014 11:24 am • linkreport

As Executive Director of ANC 2F, I would like to clarify the Commission's position on this issue, as well as the related action taken by the Commission.

At its January 22, 2014 meeting, the Community Development Commission (CDC) entertained a presentation and subsequent discussion about possible parking solutions for the lot at 1325 S St, NW. Commissioner Cain, Chair of the CDC, Cain reiterated that the idea for any parking options at the site was purely in the brainstorming phase, and that no plans or suggestions had been presented to the District government. At that time, the CDC voted to recommend that the full ANC urge the City Council to explore public parking options for the lot at 1325 S St, NW.

At the subsequent full ANC meeting on February 5, 2014, the Commission adopted the CDC report, which included a recommendation from ANC 2F to the City Council that it explore public parking options for the site. Thus, ANC 2F has not endorsed support of a parking garage or any particular parking solution for the site in question.

Minutes for both of the above mentioned meetings can be found on our website, www.anc2f.org.

by Adam Beebe on Apr 10, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

@ davidalpert
I have to agree with parkingguru that your numbers seem off. The Victoria study found construction cost of $14,500 for Baltimore. Inflation adjusting puts you in the range parkingguru cites.
25% of the maintenance costs in the Study are for employing a parking booth attendant. I doubt this is relevant here.
You didn’t consider the nine condos that are part of the project. Given a standard 20% developer profit that means the condos could pay for as much as 10% of the construction cost. Going forward the city will also be collecting something like $40 to 50K a year in property taxes.
Bond rates are also much lower than you cite. For example, O’Hare just secured financing on a garage project at 3.5% over 39 years. I am currently working on an LAX garage project with financing projected at 3.5 to 4.25% over 30 to 39 years.
The cost per acre for land based on the residential property tax assessments on the 1300 block of S would be around $8.25 million per acre – not $9.5m. So the land cost would be $30k per space and not $36k. Considering 1325 S is now assessed at $4.5m and makes up roughly half of the garage location, the land price would drop to around $20k per spot and probably lower. And since DC would not be paying for the land, there would be no purchase expense or debt to service. There may be a missed opportunity costs, but that is quite different from figuring whether a garage can be operated at a profit at this location with parking charges adjusted accordingly.
I have lived a little more than 2 blocks from this location for almost 30 years and have mixed feelings about the project. It could be a good part of a comprehensive fix to the areas parking problems, but a mixed blessing if it is done without also addressing the fact that street parking is free every night and every weekend. A balance review of all of the options and an unbiased assessment of the cost of the garage would be helpful.

by DupontDem on Apr 10, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

+1 Alex B. Price on-street parking correctly, and that takes care of your problem. The city needs more housing supply and transit service in dense areas like 14th Street, not more parking garages.

by Jonathan P on Apr 10, 2014 5:43 pm • linkreport

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