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Parking


NIH 2015: Growing without adding parking is "impossible." NIH 2016: Okay, it's possible.

The National Institutes of Health won't add any new parking spaces to its campus after all. After saying "high-ranking scientists" were too important to take transit or carpool, NIH leaders have seen the error of their ways and modified the master plan to cap the parking.


The NIH Master Plan.

NIH last presented a draft master plan last April. The plan would add 3,000 employees to the Bethesda campus, and NIH wanted to build 1,000 new parking spaces for them.

However, the National Capital Planning Commission rejected NIH's plan. NCPC has a policy that federal facilities outside DC but near Metro stations (like NIH) should have one space per three employees. NIH has 1 space per 2.3 employees, more than the NCPC standard.

When NIH last updated its master plan, NCPC planners pushed NIH to work to reach the 1:3 level. But at the April meeting, NIH facilities director Ricardo Herring irritated NCPC commissioners by insisting that achieving that was "impossible" because "high-ranking scientists" just won't abide not being able to have their own free parking spaces.

Apparently it's not actually impossible, because NIH has now changed its plan. Instead of adding 1,000 spaces, it will add zero, capping parking at the current level of 9,045. That would shift the parking ratio from 1:2.3 to 1:2.6.

NCPC spokesperson Stephen Staudigl said in an email, "In response to our concerns, NIH suggested a cap on existing parking on the campus, as opposed to its previous proposal to add new parking. We see this cap as an interim step towards achieving a long-term goal of the 1:3 ratio. ... Looking forward, we plan to continue working with NIH staff in anticipation of its next master plan update in 2018, which should include a more detailed approach to parking reduction over time."

The plan will consolidate much of the campus' surface parking into a few new parking garages. This will let NIH actually increase the percentage of open space on the campus from 36% to 39% while growing, because parking will drop from 9% of the land area to 5%.

As NCPC commissioners pointed out in April, a public health organization, in particular, ought to recognize the value of having people not dependent on cars. Thanks to NCPC's pressure, it seems to have come around.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Especially with a Metro station on the campus!

by DCplanner on Jan 14, 2016 12:34 pm • linkreport

Color me skeptical. And I'm skeptical because of the downward spiral that WMATA appears incapable of getting itself out of. NCPC's parking policy is built on the premise that WMATA (and the Red Line in particular regarding NIH) function normally. But that has clearly not been the case in recent years. Hopefully the new WMATA leadership will succeed in reversing that trend, but only time will tell.

by Froggie on Jan 14, 2016 12:37 pm • linkreport

Worked at NIH for 6 years, reverse-commuting by red line every day, but I don't agree with this.

A lot of people at NIH are family people. They have SFHs in transit-poor MD 'burbs, and drive their kids to daycare. Standard stuff for a suburban location like this. You take their parking spot, and you're imposing a real burden. These restrictions will be paid for in longer commutes and increased costs, which will inevitably be borne by the least-secure workers on the campus. It is possible to grow without adding parking, but only by making life more miserable for a lot of the people who work there. Ultimately, it makes it harder for NIH to recruit and retain the staff it needs to further its mission, and risks further decentralization to satellite sites.

It's harsh also, because NIH has high transit use (and bike mode share). The goal of 1:3 is extremely aggressive for a suburban location and would not be tolerated in the private sector.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 12:39 pm • linkreport

fwiw, Stanford University agreed over a decade ago to a hard cap on peak hour single occupant vehicle trips to campus in exchange for the right to develop 2.5 million new square feet of space. The result has been a percentage decline in SOV access to campus from the low 70s to the low 40s. See slides 19 and 20 here. Basically no increase in parking construction, over 3,000 new parking spaces avoided, at a savings to the University in 2013 of over $100 million in the linked presentation.

NIH shouldn't have any problems comparing themselves to Stanford on the status metric...

by jnb on Jan 14, 2016 12:43 pm • linkreport

"high ranking scientists" prefer to bike to work
http://mosaicscience.com/extra/varmus-cycling

by alurin on Jan 14, 2016 12:45 pm • linkreport

The goal of 1:3 is extremely aggressive for a suburban location and would not be tolerated in the private sector.

Perhaps you should give the private sector a try. My company doesnt provide any parking at its suburban location. You have to pay market rates to someone else.

by Richard B on Jan 14, 2016 12:48 pm • linkreport

@Richard B
Yes, but even if you have to pay for parking, the parking is still there. People still have a choice. That's more flexible than what is being proposed for NIH.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 1:09 pm • linkreport

Ultimately, it makes it harder for NIH to recruit and retain the staff it needs to further its mission, and risks further decentralization to satellite sites.

What if we just funded NIH better?

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 1:21 pm • linkreport

@jnb
The Stanford example is no doubt impressive, but most of it was done by growing transit modeshare, and it's very doubtful that NIH will be able to achieve similar gains. Already, NIH will literally pay you to take transit in lieu of a parking pass- at least $125 a month (which, for me, made it a no-brainer). If you offer people $125 a month to ride transit, and they still choose to drive a car every day in Montgomery County traffic, that suggests that they really find it essential to drive a car.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 1:29 pm • linkreport

Actually when I say that NIH will not be able to achive similar gains in transit share, that is probably not true. What wil happen at NIH (which probably already happened at Stanford) is that people will drive to their closest rail station, park up there, and crush onto the train. After that, they get to wait for and ride the shuttle bus from Medical Center metro to their lab/office. Like this, NIH can say that it achieved an increase in transit modeshare, but it would mostly be achieved by increasing the misery of its employees and without reducing the number of car trips. I guess the car trips might be shorter.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 1:36 pm • linkreport

If you offer people $125 a month to ride transit, and they still choose to drive a car every day in Montgomery County traffic, that suggests that they really find it essential to drive a car.

What do they charge for parking?

by Alex B. on Jan 14, 2016 1:38 pm • linkreport

Well yeah, if you equate taking transit with "misery" then I guess this is a bad idea.

Or people could still drive if they want. That isn't being taken away. Or they can carpool. Or bike.

For future NIH employees its not like they'll notice any difference ever.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 1:48 pm • linkreport

If you offer people $125 a month to ride transit, and they still choose to drive a car every day in Montgomery County traffic, that suggests that they really find it essential to drive a car.
If you have a toddler and an infant to bring to day care everyday, there's a pretty good chance that you regard driving them as "essential."

by MS on Jan 14, 2016 1:55 pm • linkreport

@AlexB
When I last worked there (2012), it was up to $125 a month for transit or a parking hangtag. You had to take one or the other. Or you could waive both in favor of a 'bicycle commuting reimbursement', but it was such a pittance ($20 a month) that you'd almost always do better to claim the transit subsidy.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 1:56 pm • linkreport

@Renegade09 - "A lot of people at NIH are family people. They have SFHs in transit-poor MD 'burbs, and drive their kids to daycare."

How is this not true for virtually every federal agency in DC? A lot of people at [any and every federal acronym] are "family people living in single family homes driving kids to places"... And most of the whole region is "transit poor suburbia." Why is NIH especially deserving of more parking availability?

by Chuck on Jan 14, 2016 2:03 pm • linkreport

@renegade09 - After that, they get to wait for and ride the shuttle bus from Medical Center metro to their lab/office.

According to slide 6 of the NCPC Plan, nearly every NIH building is within a 10 minute walk from the metro station. So I can't believe most employees will be lining up to take a shuttle that would probably take nearly just as long as, if not longer than, their walk would considering the wait-time for the shuttle to arrive and multiple stops before their destination.

And "misery", really?

by 7r3y3r on Jan 14, 2016 2:03 pm • linkreport

@drumz
I'm not equating transit with misery. Remember, I chose to ride the red line every day for 6 years to get to NIH campus. Often 7 days a week. Almost invariably after peak-service in the evenings. Through the continual and interminable single-tracking and random station closures. For some people it is the best option. But I know that many of my former colleagues could not make it work. They have to drop off kids at daycare. They live in, like, Olney, or Ellicott City. It just doesn't work.

What I am equating with misery is increased commute time. That's not just me, there is a whole academic literature showing that longer commutes correlate with a range of negative mental health impacts, depression and even divorce. If you replace one car trip with a car trip + red line trip + shuttle bus trip, that is a lot longer and less-convenient commute. And yeah, if you add employees without more spots, somebody is going to have to miss out on a park on-site. We can grow NIH without more parking spots, but don't think that it comes without a cost.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 2:06 pm • linkreport

@743y3r
I've been there and done it. It was a brisk 13-minute walk to Building 10, and about a 25-minute walk to Building 37. Almost no workplaces on NIH campus are within a 10-minute walk of Medical Center metro. Building 41 is even further. The walkshed estimates are bullsh!t. Also, even a brisk 13-minute walk isn't much fun when it's 90F out. I would do it and arrive covered in sweat. I didn't care. Not for everybody though.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 2:08 pm • linkreport

What I am equating with misery is increased commute time.
Then drive. No one is stopping anyone from driving. Just from NIH from having too many parking spaces (its already and will remain over the limit).

Providing too much parking leads to more traffic and congestion and that also increases commute times. So misery abounds either way it looks like.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 2:12 pm • linkreport

Some oversights if you celebrate parking going away at NIH =
A lot of NIH employees start work early in the morning, before Metrorail could take them. Many arrive before or at the same time as the earliest buses (RideOn, etc.) to Bethesda go in the day.

by asffa on Jan 14, 2016 2:16 pm • linkreport

If you offer people $125 a month to ride transit, and they still choose to drive a car every day in Montgomery County traffic, that suggests that they really find it essential to drive a car.

1. Of course they also offer $230/month in parking benefits The money issue is at best a wash.
2. Montgomery county traffic is so awful precisely because so many people drive, because so many employers (etc.) provide parking. You cannot make Montgomery County traffic less miserable for those people who really do have to drive without encouraging everyone else to take some other mode.

by alurin on Jan 14, 2016 2:28 pm • linkreport

When I last worked there (2012), it was up to $125 a month for transit or a parking hangtag. You had to take one or the other.

So, the parking is via a permit - as in, free for the employee?

If parking is a scarce resource, perhaps they should charge for it. Encouraging people to use transit via the Metro subsidy is great. However, explicitly discouraging employees from parking by charging for it would better manage parking demand as well.

by Alex B. on Jan 14, 2016 2:49 pm • linkreport

People carpool with coworkers or family members or bike or take the bus or walk. It's not even just metro access that makes this a worthy goal.

by BTA on Jan 14, 2016 3:03 pm • linkreport

@drumz
Then drive. No one is stopping anyone from driving.
You're right, people will drive anyway. They'll just park somewhere else, most likely at Shady Grove or Grosvenor-Strathmore, adding to their cost, hassle, and commute time. This is hardly a great victory for sustainable planning.

@alurin
Montgomery County traffic is a function of land use and transit options. Taking away parking is not going to fix either of those problems. BRT might, but...

@AlexB
I agree that they should charge for parking, but I'm not sure if they can, there are so many weird federal rules and regulations. Even if they did, up to $240/month would presumably be tax-deductible.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 3:19 pm • linkreport

They'll just park somewhere else, most likely at Shady Grove or Grosvenor-Strathmore, adding to their cost, hassle, and commute time. This is hardly a great victory for sustainable planning.

That's what those stations are there for aren't they? Seems like things are working exactly as they should.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 3:21 pm • linkreport

That's what those stations are there for aren't they? Seems like things are working exactly as they should.

I'm hoping this isn't sarcasm. How do you think people can park at stations whose lots are full, which they often are?

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 3:48 pm • linkreport

Having seen this sort of thing play out when Congress gets involved and applies a cap, that's not much better. Some people will always need to drive, especially (often overlooked) the working class or evening and night shift staff. If an agency or its staff operate 24/7/365, then Metro is not cutting it.

More to the near future: when Metro has to close the red line (the four or so stations and tunnels along them) for the overdue repairs, what outcome will satisfy? If Metro was capable of creating a bus brigade like CTA did during their red line repairs, then there'd be much more goodwill.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 3:51 pm • linkreport

I'm hoping this isn't sarcasm. How do you think people can park at stations whose lots are full, which they often are?

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/27477/which-metro-parking-lots-fill-up-and-which-dont/

They aren't as full as you think. And for the ones that are full usually the next stations down the line are better off. Or just don't drive at all. Or still drive and park as you're still allowed to do. No parking is even being removed. Just none is being added. Anyone who's an employee at NIH today doesn't have to do anything if they don't want to.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 4:01 pm • linkreport

When stations have a utilization ratio over 100% I'd call that pretty full. Even the post references 90% as full, which is what most of the end stations represent. It would seem your solution to have people drive farther in to get to a station that reliably has parking, increasing congestion along the entire length of the road; I'm not clear on how this meets the purpose of Metro (to reduce transportation by car and congestion caused thereby or to reduce emissions, and time lost) as it is designed.

Given Metro's abysmal paratransit system, you don't seem to consider the concerns of those who have limited mobility. As a previous poster pointed out, if even the able bodied cannot transit the campus in the promised but impossible 10 minutes, then that should be included as a metric.

If you want to argue that the roads are became ever more congested after Walter Reed closed, then you should do so.

It's not as if it's impossible to build underground parking or hide it from view and repurpose the area above it.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:11 pm • linkreport

@drumz
Anyone who's an employee at NIH today doesn't have to do anything if they don't want to.
If you get to campus and all the lots are full, you have to turn around, and drive back up Rockville Pike until you can find a parking lot that is not full, i.e. you would have to do something you don't want to.

Of course, this outcome is unlikely to happen, because it would p!ss off the top brass too much if they were impacted. What will happen instead is that some group of employees will be denied the opportunity to have a parking pass. That group will have no choice but to do something they don't want to. The people who willl be worst impacted will almost certainly be those at the lowest rank or with the least seniority. Probably the postdoc scientists, who already get screwed every other way.

Also, note that Grosvenor-Strathmore parking lot - the one closest to NIH on the red line - is at 98% utilization. No chance of overspill there. That means employees would have to park at the garages further up the line. Of course, half of the peak red line trains start at Grosvenor, so parking further up the line means a longer wait for a train.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 4:17 pm • linkreport

Renegade09 - "What I am equating with misery is increased commute time. That's not just me, there is a whole academic literature showing that longer commutes correlate with a range of negative mental health impacts, depression and even divorce."

But again... how is this not true for, say, employees at any other federal facility that has both added more employees and yet not added any more parking?

Why are employees at NIH uniquely suffering from the lack of additional parking (or horrible Metro service) in a way that doesn't apply to all the other federal employees living in the region?

Why are NIH employees uniquely incapable of choosing homes or daycare centers or schools convenient for leaving their cars at home?

Why are NIH employees apparently forced to live in transit wastelands like Olney and Ellicott City and give birth to lots of children that need chaperoned rides everywhere?

Which federal agencies are the ones that employ only the sad, childless, divorced people (who don't mind forgoing single family homes and who have no obligations outside of work) that can thus be expected to suffer riding Metro on a daily basis with no qualms... freeing the apparently very busy and quiverfull* NIH employees from the tyranny of a 1:2.6 parking ratio? (*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiverfull#Majority_doctrine)

In short, why is NIH special and deserving of a parking limitation exemption, when nobody else in the federal government gets one? Because "you yourself worked there and knew a few people who found Metro to be hard to use" seems to be the answer... which, alas, isn't great for forming a federal employer parking policy for the entire region.

We all have families and things to do outside of work, and we all make housing and commuting choices that frequently have horrible tradeoffs. Why can't NIH employees make those tradeoffs too without publicly fussing about it, the way that everyone else does in the region?

by Chuck on Jan 14, 2016 4:18 pm • linkreport

Why are NIH employees uniquely incapable of choosing homes or daycare centers or schools convenient for leaving their cars at home?

Why is NIH located in a MD county with some of the most expensive real estate in the country, when it could easily be moved to any number of cities with even deeper wells of science and research universities? Just move the whole thing to any number of cities and we can stop arguing about it. We could probably move it to Detroit, get land for a tuppence, and reinvigorate one of America's great cities.

s. Why can't NIH employees make those tradeoffs too without publicly fussing about it, the way that everyone else does in the region?

Where are these stoic non-complainers? I'm going to need some support for this statement because I cannot believe they exist. It's the NCR's conversational topic of choice, we have entire systems of alternate scheduling and remote work to account for the issues in question.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Chuck
I'm genuinely interested. Please tell me about all the other large, civilian federal facilities in the suburbs that have met the 1:3 parking obligation.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 4:29 pm • linkreport

Which federal agencies are the ones that employ only the sad, childless, divorced people

Federal law enforcement. Well divorced, less so on the sad and childless, but with shared custody or non-custodial parenting everything is simpler for the employer.

This comment is mostly in jest.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:29 pm • linkreport

Please tell me about all the other large, civilian federal facilities in the suburbs that have met the 1:3 parking obligation.

If I had to guess they'd be agencies still in DC, that ever falling number. I wonder what USDA's metric is in Greenbelt. Ditto the plans for the new FBI HQ. The Mark center was capped because the Army obviously falsified its traffic and congestion survey for years but the cap keeps repeatedly rising so the used spaces keep rising.

Generally I'm in favor of less parking, but the older I get the more empathetic I get to the needs of others.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:35 pm • linkreport

Walter Reed apparently operates successfully under a 1:3 ratio.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/26382/nih-says-our-scientists-are-too-important-to-pay-for-parking-or-take-transit/

by Chuck on Jan 14, 2016 4:36 pm • linkreport

renegade,
The people who willl be worst impacted will almost certainly be those at the lowest rank or with the least seniority. Probably the postdoc scientists, who already get screwed every other way.

Ok, so the solution is what? A 1:1 parking ratio? There isn't enough space. Part of the reason the ratio is going down is because NIH doesn't want to devote so much of its real estate to parking. The more NIH focuses on making parking easier for all its employees the less it can actually focus on its mission.

If we are worried about the salaries of scientists lets just get more funding for NIH. That seems more efficient than going back and forth on parking ratios that NIH has already bucked the trend on and would only lead to more driving and congestion affecting everyone not just NIH employees.

Free,
I'm not clear on how this meets the purpose of Metro (to reduce transportation by car and congestion caused thereby or to reduce emissions, and time lost) as it is designed.

So the solution is to not take metro at all and build more parking? Ok.

It's not as if it's impossible to build underground parking or hide it from view and repurpose the area above it.

Sure, but that's expensive. If NIH gets more money I'd rather it just go to health research than more parking (which leads to more congestion). NIH is also already well above what they should have for such an agency in such a location.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 4:36 pm • linkreport

Note that the parking ratio for NIH is more lenient than for federal facilities in the District.

by alurin on Jan 14, 2016 4:40 pm • linkreport

Apparently Walter Reed employees do not actually agree with the statement that it's a success. Certainly, given my experience with DoD I'm pretty sure I know how this works: Enlisted can forget about parking, contractors often ditto. Post BRAC 2005 setback requirements massively shrunk the available parking so when you say the rate is X and meets Y criterion, it's not as if the area is somehow shrunken, it's just the parking area shrank.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:47 pm • linkreport

Part of the reason the ratio is going down is because NIH doesn't want to devote so much of its real estate to parking
I have never heard that given as a reason. NIH would like to build new parking structures closer to where its employees actually work (as opposed to the Building 41 lot, which is about a mile away from many labs and offices). But they can't get planning permits. If NIH could build parking structures in the right places, employees could get to work quicker and wouldn't waste time doing ridiculous things like queuing for the excess carshare spots to become available at 9.30 a.m.

And I don't think NIH has bucked any trend. I don't think there are many, if any, large civilian facilities in the 'burbs which comply with a 1:3 parking ratio.

Solutions:
1. Much, much more on-site daycare, so moms and dads aren't required to drop off and pick up their kids at other sites on their way home. Daycare centers are rarely transit-accessible, so this is a prime driver of car use.
2. More workforce housing near or on campus, like Battery Lane Apartments.
3. Vastly improved bike facilities, seriously they pretty much suck now.
4. More transit, including BRT.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 4:48 pm • linkreport

@drumz: So if you want to save money move the facilities to parts of the country that could benefit most from a massive federal injection of dollars. Lower land cost, lower employee costs for many positions, and additional positive effects for the surrounding communities. Montgomery can then go in and redevelop the campus like DC plans to do with WRAMC. Sure it's a giant hit to Montgomery's economy but sacrifices must be made.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:50 pm • linkreport

1. Much, much more on-site daycare, so moms and dads aren't required to drop off and pick up their kids at other sites on their way home. Daycare centers are rarely transit-accessible, so this is a prime driver of car use.

Federal facilities really ought to be required to provide such a benefit, especially given the poor quality of the often state approved ones out there. They're more prevalent in DoD than in many civilian agencies, although some definitely do try, like DOJ and GAO in DC. After Oklahoma City it became much more difficult to out them in federal buildings and IIRC DOJ's is vastly oversubscribed and in leased space.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:53 pm • linkreport

And I don't think NIH has bucked any trend. I don't think there are many, if any, large civilian facilities in the 'burbs which comply with a 1:3 parking ratio.

The Federal Government has an explicit policy to reduce congestion, reduce single-occupant vehicle use, and increase transit use. And one of the most effective tools in doing so is by restricting parking.

by Alex B. on Jan 14, 2016 4:53 pm • linkreport

Err "to put them in federal buildings". My bad. What I wouldn't do for edit.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:54 pm • linkreport

I find it difficult to believe that shifting the parking ratio from 1:2.3 to 1:2.6 would have a sizable impact on the commuting misery for a large number of staff. Furthermore, this change is being broadcast years in advance of the actual rollout, giving people time to make adjustments.

Parking should be provided based on tenure/seniority. I'd guess many of the people who are most in need of parking already have a decent amount of tenure and will have even more by the time this master plan is implemented.

I do agree that getting kids to daycare can be a challenge. Fed employers downtown all provide subsidized daycare within walking distance of the office (although the wait lists are too long). NIH should be providing onsite, subsidized daycare if they're not already. Maybe they can put any savings from less parking into more subsidies for daycare.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2016 4:55 pm • linkreport

Another improvement MoCo may need is larger park and ride lots at metro stations, combined with higher parking fees (at the park and ride lots) to pay for them. That is an issue in NoVa as well. Despite the complaints about metro, many park and rides fill up early. That to me suggests they are under priced.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 14, 2016 4:55 pm • linkreport

My bad though, Renegade. I missed this statement from NIH when I assumed it was staffed by regular federal employees.

"An NIH official last week said the agency’s Bethesda campus should be allowed to add more parking above federal guidelines because employees are 'a bunch of high-ranking scientists,' and 'not your regular people.'" http://wtop.com/news/2015/04/nih-official-employees-deserve-more-parking-because-theyre-high-ranking-scientists/ The article goes on to explain that their (obviously inadequate) salaries force them to live in WV and commute from PA (it was unclear why those two states were juxtaposed together in the article... I guess that's where the nearest daycare to WV is?), so it seems that the situation is more dire than you made out, Renegade.

Well, there you go. I'm sold. NIH needs more spaces because they're high ranking scientists. They're not regular people, who can make simple tradeoffs regarding home location, daycare location and commuting mode from both of those to work. They're super people, way more super than anybody else who hates riding Metro and wishes the federal government would increase parking at their workplace.

I guess the only question that remains is: Perhaps we should build NIH its own airport too? I mean, that would *really* help with the commutes to/from WV and PA. And have you seen the type of people that use National these days? #Lowclass #Averagejoes, the lot of them. Or would the NIH just settle for their own NIH lanes on the highways to/from WV and PA?

by Chuck on Jan 14, 2016 4:55 pm • linkreport

I agree that they should charge for parking, but I'm not sure if they can, there are so many weird federal rules and regulations. Even if they did, up to $240/month would presumably be tax-deductible.</>

Most federal agencies do not include a parking transportation fringe in that sense. EPA charges close to $200 for those who would rather park and are in a carpool, and you waive the transit subsidy.

NIH should not make people choose one or the other because many people can ride transit some days but need the car on other days. Whether that means a pass good fir certain days of the week or daily parking fees or both, they should be more creative.

by JimT on Jan 14, 2016 4:57 pm • linkreport

But they can't get planning permits.

Right. Because planners (correctly) assume that more parking would equal more traffic. That's a good call to make! Scientists of all people should know when to listen to the evidence and the evidence says that building more parking doesn't make it easier to find a space.

Your other ideas are fine. Some of it is in the works already like BRT.

So if you want to save money move the facilities to parts of the country that could benefit most from a massive federal injection of dollars.

I think you're being facetious but while that might save some money it wouldn't actually solve any traffic or parking issues for NIH employees. It would just move things to a new area where the cycle begins anew.

Free parking isn't a right and building more and more of it doesn't actually make parking easier. That's not to spite NIH employees its just how things work. Rather than trying to reshape reality around the economics of parking maybe its just better to respond in a smarter way.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 4:59 pm • linkreport

The Federal Government has an explicit policy to reduce congestion

Indeed, the federal government has lots of policies. I recall they argued ad nauseum about the setback requirements during BRAC 2005; that policy is absolutely not being followed in many a facility that has been built in the NCR except the Pentagon building itself.

The failure to follow through on the carrot part of the approach is some of the issue with NIH's choices, but they have the stick down.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 4:59 pm • linkreport

I think you're being facetious but while that might save some money it wouldn't actually solve any traffic or parking issues for NIH employees. It would just move things to a new area where the cycle begins anew.

No I'm not. DC has no automatic right to any federal facility. The federal government is to serve America, not MoCo. Certainly decentralization has been pursued in many a country, one of them being the US.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 5:01 pm • linkreport

Parking should be provided based on tenure/seniority.
I'm aware many agencies do this, but can you provide reasoning for why it should be this way?

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 5:07 pm • linkreport

ertainly decentralization has been pursued in many a country, one of them being the US.

Right, including NIH which is in Montgomery County instead of DC. But even if they moved to Omaha or Los Angeles or Helena you wouldn't somehow solve the parking issues that are raised here. Any org that employs a lot of people is going to have to deal with congestion because lots of people in one area tends to make things crowded.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 5:16 pm • linkreport

@drumz: It would solve the problem for the DC area, so yes since that is what we are discussing, it would solve the problem. Now there are in fact other cities with far less inept transit systems or with space available for parking or both.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 5:21 pm • linkreport

The Federal Government has an explicit policy to reduce congestion, reduce single-occupant vehicle use, and increase transit use. And one of the most effective tools in doing so is by restricting parking.

that is one of the dumbest policy existed. i would understand it if it was for downtown DC only, but agency that are outside the DC core, it a real challenge to accommodate their employees.
NIH is a large spread out campus with more than 80% of it workforce live at least 20 mins by car from campus. as far as Eastern PG, Laurel, Fredrick and WV. all employees survey confirm parking is the biggest issue for them. management agrees, they need more parking to accommodate the workforce, yet the Planning Commission continue to force this policy down everyone throat under this futile idea of everyone taking the Metro.

testimony: my GF had excepted a contract position with the Coast Guard in the St Elizabeth Campus in SE. because of this Planning Commission that demand all Agency remove X amount of parking space. she was force to walk 15 to 20 min everyday up the Hill from Anacostia Station to make it up to Campus in DC summer and Winter weather. yet 50% of campus parking sit empty every day cause the Coast Guard had no choice but to band all contractor from parking onsite to meet the Commission quotas. no one could park unless you a Fed employee. she Quit after 6 months. they are continue to suffer from high turnover because of that dumb policy

by Wjones on Jan 14, 2016 5:23 pm • linkreport

NIH already has an existing secondary location, there's no particularly good reason another location is impossible.

If you want to be open to all options, clearly something other than a binary should exist.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 5:27 pm • linkreport

It would solve the problem for the DC area, so yes since that is what we are discussing, it would solve the problem.

And create a bunch of new ones for NIH (its not like moving agencies is easy). The parking issue isn't the local govs problem. It's NIH's who want more parking than allowed (and that they largely already have). The reason we don't allow so much parking is because it makes traffic worse. That hurts a lot of people but it especially hurts the exact group that its purported to help? Why do that?

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 5:27 pm • linkreport

@drumz: I'm out, you do you.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 5:38 pm • linkreport

NIH does have the option of providing a transit parking subsidy in addition to the transit subsidy it is required to offer. Charge for parking on campus but subsidize it at metro stations, and more people will choose transit--especially if they are still allowed to drive in sometimes.

But why are we talking about this when the driverless car will make it all moot?

by JimT on Jan 14, 2016 5:42 pm • linkreport

NIH does have the option of providing a transit parking subsidy in addition to the transit subsidy it is required to offer.

I'm not sure that's entirely kosher. No federal agency I'm aware of allows you to double dip, it's always pick one or the other. I know that's verboten at DoD.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 14, 2016 6:17 pm • linkreport

Parking should be provided based on tenure/seniority.

I'm aware many agencies do this, but can you provide reasoning for why it should be this way?

The idea is that while you may not get parking initially, if you stay long enough, you can eventually have one for the rest of your time there. It gives people light at the end of the tunnel for whom parking would make a big difference.

The concept of going on a waitlist and/or waiting in line for your turn is how a lot of scarce resources are allocated.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2016 6:18 pm • linkreport

Stanford is a good suburban "high prestige" analogy. Stanford has been working with transit agencies to add service, as well as covering people's transit costs etc. But there's no transit near Stanford that has the capacity and speed of the DC Metro, so NIH should be in a better position to minimize auto trips.

by Wanderer on Jan 14, 2016 7:05 pm • linkreport

And one of the most effective tools in doing so is by restricting parking.
I don't agree that this is true. You restrict parking on campus, people will just have to park somewhere else. They're not going to grow wings, and there's no decent transit to the places where many NIH employees live.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 8:08 pm • linkreport

@renegade

Wouldn't everyone working at this NIH campus today who has parking still have parking in the future? My understanding is this plan isn't taking parking away from anyone who currently has parking at this campus. They're all grandfathered in.

by Falls Church on Jan 14, 2016 8:27 pm • linkreport

I joined an institution at NSAB across the street from NIH as a federal civilian employee in 2014. I commute by RideOn and Metrobus, and my 5-mile trip to home takes 1 hour. When I was hired, the employer made it clear that there were no more parking spaces available. As far as I know, it doesn't matter if you're a fed or contractor. (I'm sure exceptions are made for very high ranking officials, which makes sense.)

The fact that the same trip takes 20-30 minutes by car is painful (I've taken Uber a few times).

This doesn't make my life miserable. I'm a transit fan and I have no children or other family obligations that would make this untenable for me.

Yet it does rub me the wrong way that at least some (not all) of the slowness of the bus is due to car traffic. Metrorail is all well and good, but I wish more could be done to help the many people who commute to Medical Center by bus.

by AL on Jan 14, 2016 9:09 pm • linkreport

That hurts a lot of people but it especially hurts the exact group that its purported to help? Why do that?

And you think forcing them onto transit and doubling their commute time will help them?

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 14, 2016 10:31 pm • linkreport

And one of the most effective tools in doing so is by restricting parking.
I don't agree that this is true. You restrict parking on campus, people will just have to park somewhere else.
There's lots of empirical evidence to suggest otherwise.

http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/about/2040/supporting-materials/process-archive/strategy-papers/parking/impacts-of-parking-strategies

Todd Littman has found that offering cash-out programs (such as $50 / month for not using a parking spot) typically reduces automobile commuting by 20% (2006). In another study, Litman found that shifting from free parking to cost-recovery parking (prices that reflect the full cost of providing parking facilities) typically reduces automobile commuting by 10-30% (2008). Wilson and Shoup found that, when employees are charged to park, 20% fewer drive solo (1990). At suburban locations with limited transit, it is still possible to reduce the number of single-occupant drivers by incentivizing carpooling, although the impacts will be less. Factors that affect the success of parking cash-out programs include: proportion of employees that are candidates for cash-out, availability of transit, and the presence of uncontrolled parking supplies (Vaca and Kuzmyak, 2005). Downtown San Francisco has developed a "Transit First" policy to encourage transit ridership that has no requirements for parking provision, but instead has implemented maximum parking ratios. In ten years, there has been no major increase in peak traffic despite "considerable office growth" (Kuzmyak, et al, 2003). Other studies have found a decrease in parking demand ranging from about 15% in areas with low transit to 38% in areas with some transit (Transportation Authority of Marin).

Capping the ratio of spaces to employees makes sense. And I don't know exactly how NIH allocates the parking spaces that they do have, but I have a feeling they could find a system that either makes using transit easier or better manages who gets the parking passes - ensuring that the people that need them most are able to get them.

by Alex B. on Jan 14, 2016 10:43 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church
If they phase it right, they might be able to avoid rejecting individual hangtag renewals. For example, they could just tell newly-hired post-docs, 'sorry, you guys are not getting a hangtag'. It would be unfair, but post-docs get screwed anyway, with their starting salary of $42K, no benefits etc (yes @Chuck, these are the 'top-ranking scientists' you were making sarcastic comments about earlier). The thing that people seem too be forgetting is that for many people who work in expensive areas like Bethesda, the car is an instrument of affordability. You take away people's ability to drive or park a car, you push up their cost - either through the higher cost of living near the red line, or the higher cost of a longer commute, like @AL's 1-hour commute. Either way it pretty much sucks.

by renegade09 on Jan 14, 2016 11:03 pm • linkreport

And you think forcing them onto transit and doubling their commute time

No one is being forced to do anything. No parking spaces are being taken away.

But building more parking tends to beget more driving which leads to a need for more parking which ends up dooming everyone else to slower transit commutes AND slower auto commutes so no one is helped.

by drumz on Jan 14, 2016 11:07 pm • linkreport

Chuck - Actually, I do care that NIH is full of fairly uniquely qualified, high-ranking scientists trying to cure diseases and treat people.
There's whole groups who run marathons and things trying to fund research for them to do their jobs effectively.
What does this group worry about? That these people want somewhere to park.

by asffa on Jan 15, 2016 8:02 am • linkreport

But building more parking tends to beget more driving which leads to a need for more parking which ends up dooming everyone else to slower transit commutes AND slower auto commutes so no one is helped.

The problem is you're trying to apply a "downtown DC" concept to a suburban area. Transit is not going to be a great option for most of NIH's employees because NIH's location is not central to most of the region or the mass transit system (which is build around downtown). So restricting parking at NIH is only going to result in hardship for employees over the long term.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 8:10 am • linkreport

@wjones: that is one of the dumbest policy existed. i would understand it if it was for downtown DC only, but agency that are outside the DC core, it a real challenge to accommodate their employees.

In fact, the NCPC parking ratios vary by location. In downtown DC, it is 1:5. Elsewhere in the District it is 1:4. For suburban areas within 2000 feet of Metro (e.g., NIH) it is 1:3. For suburban areas beyond 2000 feet of Metro, it is 1:1.5 - 1:1.2

by alurin on Jan 15, 2016 8:17 am • linkreport

The problem is you're trying to apply a "downtown DC" concept to a suburban area.

NIH has a suburban lay but its densities (and densities in nearby Bethesda and Rockville) are pretty urban. It's a "suburb" only via the fact that it's on the Maryland side of the DC line.

But that doesn't matter anyway because the parking ratio that NIH is supposed to meet (but exceeds anyway) is explicitly for locations that aren't in the CBD but are nevertheless near metro.

So restricting parking at NIH is only going to result in hardship for employees over the long term.
But building parking doesn't ease that hardship.

So do something different. Improve transit, pay employees more, install a free smoothie machine in every kitchen. Any of those would ease the hardship without making parking and traffic worse like adding more parking to a site that already has too much.

No one who is arguing against more parking is looking to screw over NIH employees. We just know that building more parking is usually not the best solution to a parking crunch. That's what the facts and experience have born out.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2016 8:29 am • linkreport

Interesting how little discussion there is here of the idea of creating another campus for NIH or one or more of its institutes in downtown DC. Was that ever looked at by NIH?

Also no discussion of the likelihood of self driving vehicles in a decade or two and what that means for parking demand and capacities.

Nor is there any mention of the implications of catastrophic climate change hitting DC and the world in about the same time period as self driving cars become widespread.

I would think that NIH will need to dramatically expand to deal with the new diseases and stresses confronting a post climate chaos world. And the DC region will look very different spatially and in the federal government's role in 20-40 years. What will that mean for NIH?

Why aren't talking about these issues as part of our long range planning? Or maybe they are discussed at the NCPC- just not very much on GGW.

by Herb on Jan 15, 2016 9:19 am • linkreport

But building parking doesn't ease that hardship.

But it does. Sure, the additional cars may increase travel times a few minutes, but that's far less than the added time to use mass transit. The net result is a hardship for NIH employees.

We just know that building more parking is usually not the best solution to a parking crunch.

But sometimes it is.

No one who is arguing against more parking is looking to screw over NIH employees.

Maybe not, but you are trying to micromanage their lives in ways they (and their employer) may not want. I guess that's ok because you can hold the NIH hostage (it can't easily move), but this attitude will drive many private employers away. No surprise that DC can't attract a lot of entrepreneurs.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 10:24 am • linkreport

Every option should be available to everyone! Regardless of how much it costs the employer or the public!

People are always telling the government to act like a business. But when it does so and decides to build less parking because that costs a lot of money, well we should be providing it for everyone!

by MLD on Jan 15, 2016 10:28 am • linkreport

Sure, the additional cars may increase travel times a few minutes, but that's far less than the added time to use mass transit.

But then traffic is worse for everybody. Not just NIH employees. That's why we have the NCPC so that various agencies can work with local government to find solutions that works for everybody. Again, if you're worried about averse impacts on NIH employees then there are many more solutions than just "build more parking".

But sometimes it is.

But not here though. We already have a shade under 10k spaces and that's for a facility that has its own metro stop.

Maybe not, but you are trying to micromanage their lives in ways they (and their employer) may not want.

Much like the suggestion to take transit isn't subjecting someone to "misery" taking time to plan out impacts to traffic future plans will have for an area and disallowing something that would lead to more traffic is not "micromanaging". That's just making use of a scarce resource in the most efficient ways.

No surprise that DC can't attract a lot of entrepreneurs.

When entrepeneurs are responsible for thousands of trips just to their very large campuses then we can maybe make that comparison.

Just because someone in the future might wish for an easier parking space doesn't really justify building a lot more of it. Especially when we know that it just leads to more driving.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2016 10:35 am • linkreport

"I joined an institution at NSAB across the street from NIH as a federal civilian employee in 2014. I commute by RideOn and Metrobus, and my 5-mile trip to home takes 1 hour."

I am not telling you what to do, but what are the obstacles that make biking not an option? Do they not provide a place to shower and change? Because 5 miles is a pretty reasonable bike commute, and should take well under an hour even for a new rider on a cheap bike.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 15, 2016 10:41 am • linkreport

But then traffic is worse for everybody.

If you dump thousands of additional people on Metro, Metro's performance will deteriorate as well. The system can't even handle it's current peak loads.

We already have a shade under 10k spaces and that's for a facility that has its own metro stop.

A Metro facility that is useless for many of the employees unless they want much longer commutes.

disallowing something that would lead to more traffic is not "micromanaging".

Of course it is. It's the local government saying "Trust us, we know what's best for you."

Again, if you're worried about averse impacts on NIH employees then there are many more solutions than just "build more parking".

But within the confines of NIH's budget, almost none of those solutions will help give their employees a shorter commute.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 11:02 am • linkreport

"If you dump thousands of additional people on Metro, Metro's performance will deteriorate as well. The system can't even handle it's current peak loads."

Which is very odd, since ridership is still below its historic peak. In any case, the NIH expansion is not happening tomorrow, is it?

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 15, 2016 11:06 am • linkreport

Of course it is. It's the local government saying "Trust us, we know what's best for you."

No, this is the federal government setting a policy that applies to federal employers.

by Alex B. on Jan 15, 2016 11:07 am • linkreport

Of course it is. It's the local government saying "Trust us, we know what's best for you."

Only because you're approaching this from the perspective that more parking is the best and only solution so all effort must be used to achieve this. That's the narrow thinking and micromanagement. Especially when we know what building more parking tends to do (i.e. it doesn't achieve what's advertised).

I get that NIH is constrained with its budget and that employees themselves might have trouble having an "easy" time getting to work. But that's a fact across many agencies and for many people region wide.

But resources are finite and parking is a fairly low return investment when it comes to those resources because it generates congestion all on its own. Especially when we demand it gets built and given away for free or very cheap. That's the opposite of carefully managing budget priorities.

So NIH, even if they had total free reign, shouldn't focus all its energies on parking. But NIH isn't in a vaccuum either and has (and should) work with planners on how to best manage things.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2016 11:15 am • linkreport

Only because you're approaching this from the perspective that more parking is the best and only solution so all effort must be used to achieve this. That's the narrow thinking and micromanagement.

No, it's realizing that transit doesn't solve all of NIH's problems. Transit is part of the solution for sure, but it's not going to meet the needs of many of NIH's employees today or in the future.

NIH has the room for more parking. Parking could be built pretty cheaply and a relatively low parking fee could easily cover the cost. So from a budget perspective, the cost isn't the issue. The issue is trying to conform to an artificial parking ratio that was made up and isn't optimal for NIH given the nature of NIH's employees and NIH's location.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 11:38 am • linkreport

No, it's realizing that transit doesn't solve all of NIH's problems.

No one has argued this. Just that more parking won't solve the problems that its intended to solve. The only people talking about transit only solutions are those disparaging the decision not to add more parking. Pretending that people absolutely can't take transit instead because somehow that means "misery". The whole reason there is a parking ratio in the first place is because of the assumption that some people will still have to drive.

NIH has the room for more parking.

Maybe but that takes away room for other things. Even open space and that can be important as well.

Parking could be built pretty cheaply and a relatively low parking fee could easily cover the cost.

That's a big assumption. And charging for parking is a good idea but why require more parking first before trying it now?

The issue is trying to conform to an artificial parking ratio that was made up and isn't optimal for NIH given the nature of NIH's employees and NIH's location.

Another big assumption that its just "made up". And in any case, NIH is already past that limit anyway and will remain so.

by drumz on Jan 15, 2016 11:53 am • linkreport

@CrossingBrooklynFerry: I am not telling you what to do, but what are the obstacles that make biking not an option? Do they not provide a place to shower and change? Because 5 miles is a pretty reasonable bike commute, and should take well under an hour even for a new rider on a cheap bike.
I've thought about it but (1) I'm not physically fit enough and (2) sharing the road with cars is daunting. I've tried biking for recreation and it's fun, but the distance and slopes would be too difficult for me.

Don't get me wrong, I admire folks who commute by bike. I'm not intrepid enough for it.

by AL on Jan 15, 2016 12:56 pm • linkreport

drumz: But then traffic is worse for everybody. Not just NIH employees.
Yes! Including bus commuters who work at NIH, NSAB, and elsewhere in the area.

by AL on Jan 15, 2016 1:04 pm • linkreport

AL

No I understand there are lots of potential obstacles, and I don't know what your route would be, nor am I all that familiar with routes in MoCo.

If the fitness issue is general fitness and not a particular physical challenge or disability, I would merely point out that A. You could probably beat an hour even going really slowly B. You get fitter as you ride.

But yeah, unrideable roads due to traffic conditions can be a big obstacle. That someone with a five mile commute (a rideable distance) will spend an hour on two buses because of the lack of suitable bike infra, shows the potential for biking when we do add appropriate infra and policies.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 15, 2016 1:11 pm • linkreport

I love these debates between more parking and less parking, but I think some perspective is lost when one takes everything back to these fundamentals.

This is a 12% reduction is parking per employee, to be accomplished over many years. That is not a fundamental change, but rather a call to squeeze a little bit of efficiency out of the allocation of the parking resource.

Don't you think that 12% of the parking spaces are being used by people who probably could switch, if given a small incentive such as having to pay market price. Plus a bit more telecommyuting. Plus taking transit or a bike once or twice a month?

by JimT on Jan 15, 2016 2:02 pm • linkreport

No, it's realizing that transit doesn't solve all of NIH's problems. Transit is part of the solution for sure, but it's not going to meet the needs of many of NIH's employees today or in the future.

What about all the federal agencies in the suburbs that act like parking/driving will solve all their problems? There are many like NIST or FDA that are not anywhere near a metro station. Is it the responsibility of every federal agency to provide both easy metro access and easy driving access to all employees? Certainly not the case in the private sector.

I'd also point out that the Pentagon, which has a situation that's comparable to NIH, currently has a 1:2.7 ratio and is working toward a 1:4 parking ratio -- dramatically less parking per employee than NIH. And, the Pentagon has plenty of "high ranking" people.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2016 2:11 pm • linkreport

Is it the responsibility of every federal agency to provide both easy metro access and easy driving access to all employees? Certainly not the case in the private sector.

It should be. And it should be for the private sector as well. And if we had proper regional planning (e.g. Canada) there would be far more incentive and many requirements for businesses to locate near transit.

by MLD on Jan 15, 2016 2:16 pm • linkreport

I'd also point out that the Pentagon, which has a situation that's comparable to NIH, currently has a 1:2.7 ratio and is working toward a 1:4 parking ratio -- dramatically less parking per employee than NIH. And, the Pentagon has plenty of "high ranking" people.

As I've noted previously, much of that is due to the setback requirements, not some master plan to cut parking.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 15, 2016 2:16 pm • linkreport

@FreeStahlin

It is absolutely due to a master plan to cut parking. Here's the master plan:

http://www.whs.mil/sites/default/files/Pentagon%20Master%20Plan%20EA%20_low%20res%20part%201.pdf

According to the 2014 Parking Map, the Pentagon Reservation maintains
approximately 8,494 employee parking spaces creating a 2.7:1 ratio of employees to parking spaces. A reduced number of parking spaces is expected within the Master Plan Area with the implementation of
the 2014 Master Plan Update.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2016 2:32 pm • linkreport

What about all the federal agencies in the suburbs that act like parking/driving will solve all their problems?

For those agencies, that may very well be the case. If there's little to no transit access at those sites, then logically more parking will be needed. Sure, you can encourage ridesharing/biking/etc, but those things aren't likely to be feasible for most employees.

I'd also point out that the Pentagon, which has a situation that's comparable to NIH

I'm sorry but the two aren't that comparable. The Pentagon is far more centrally located than NIH. It sits on two metro lines (and is very close to the Green/Orange/Silver Lines). Plus, it sits adjacent to a major highway with dedicated HOV lanes that make car sharing vastly more feasible. The Pentagon is basically an urban core location where the central location makes high transit share vastly more logical than NIH.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 2:35 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church. Sigh, no, the setback requirements date from the 2005 BRAC and were pushed in part because of Khobar Towers and Oklahoma City, which both long predate the Pentagon Master Plan of 2014

by FreeStahlin on Jan 15, 2016 2:36 pm • linkreport

@Al,

Consider an electric-assist bike; it will help with the slopes, though won't help improve your fitness.

Consider taking a class from WABA (http://www.waba.org/adult-education/) to increase your confidence about cycling in traffic.

I bike 12 miles each way from my suburban MoCo home to my downtown DC office; it takes less than an hour, and I'm an old guy on an old bike. Spending an hour to commute 5 miles is self-abuse (unless you're making good use of the time).

by John Henry Holliday on Jan 15, 2016 2:43 pm • linkreport

Sigh, no, the setback requirements date from the 2005 BRAC and were pushed in part because of Khobar Towers and Oklahoma City, which both long predate the Pentagon Master Plan of 2014

The master plan says nothing about the parking reductions in the 2014 Master Plan being related to setbacks...

If the setback rules predate the master plan, and the master plan is doing something because of those rules, wouldn't the master plan mention the rules?

by MLD on Jan 15, 2016 2:46 pm • linkreport

@FreeStahlin

I'm not saying the setback requirements are due to the master plan. I'm saying the push to reduce the number of parking spaces is due to a Master Plan that aims to meet the recommendation from the NCPC on the appropriate employee to parking ratio for that site.

@ArlFlyer

I'd agree Pentagon and NIH are not exactly comparable. That's why NCPC has set a goal for Pentagon for 1:4 and set a goal for NIH at 1:3. There's no exact comparison for NIH but the Pentagon is not an urban core location like downtown DC, Rosslyn or downtown Bethesda.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2016 2:48 pm • linkreport

If the setback rules predate the master plan, and the master plan is doing something because of those rules, wouldn't the master plan mention the rules?
It doesn't need to because the entire move of the roads post 9/11 was related to the earlier setback requirements and BRAC 2005 codified them. This has been known for years and years. It's already a consideration for the FBI HQ move of course. DoD doesn't care nor does it have to care about the NCPC.

In any case ArlFlyer is completely correct that it's not a comparable scenario.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 15, 2016 2:53 pm • linkreport

More info on the back-and-forth between NCPC and Pentagon on parking ratios:

NCPC
While the draft 2014 Master Plan proposes to reduce employee parking
it still does not reach the applicable Comprehensive Plan parking ratio goal of one
space for every four employees (1:4); and therefore, requests the applicant to work
with NCPC staff to identify locations for additional long-term opportunities to
eliminate parking

PENTAGON
The parking spaces on the Reservation are multifunctional in nature. Parking areas at the Reservation
are part of the of DoD organizations that have evolving missions and requirements critical to the
nations’ security. The spaces beyond the 1:4 ratio provide flexible contingency space for Pentagon
personnel to meet their mission that includes responding to Pentagon or national emergencies.
DoD Headquarters organizations must be able to respond to unplanned events, which could
temporarily increase the Pentagon’s population during the emergency. The Pentagon Reservation
parking lots would serve employees of DoD organizations who could not depend solely on transit to
get to their duty stations during an emergency

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2016 2:55 pm • linkreport

Which should prove quite nicely DOD doesn't give a fig about NCPC. It's DOD property (originally Army) and there's nought you or the NCPC can do about it. The degradation of the Blue line service doesn't help cut the rationale for those spots, neither does Metro's intensifying unreliability.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 15, 2016 3:00 pm • linkreport

There's no exact comparison for NIH but the Pentagon is not an urban core location like downtown DC, Rosslyn or downtown Bethesda.

I would argue that the Pentagon is smack in the middle of the DC metro region's urban core. The only thing isolating the Pentagon is the cemetery and river and to some degree 395, but the Pentagon is incredibly central to the DC region. The majority of the DC metro population can access the Pentagon quicker by mass transit than they can NIH.

NIH is a peripheral location on the beltway. The equivalent would be if the Pentagon was located at the Eisenhower Ave station on the yellow line or Van Dorn station on the Blue Line. If the Pentagon was located in those locations, the 1:4 ratio would never even be considered. Neither would 1:3 for that matter.

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 3:03 pm • linkreport

If the Pentagon was located in those locations, the 1:4 ratio would never even be considered. Neither would 1:3 for that matter.

Ok, how about the Suitland Federal Center? That's a comparable distance from the core as NIH. NCPC recommended parking ratio there is also 1:3.

by Falls Church on Jan 15, 2016 3:13 pm • linkreport

On a number of occasions, some people have suggested policies such as the DC height limit are no problem, because moving office employment to a more peripheral metro stop will still allow people to take metro, and create a more diffused polycentric city. I have often responded that not all metro stops are created equal, and some, based on number of metro lines, amount of bus service, and location within the region, will inevitably have higher SOV mode share. I would hope this discussion of NIH vs the Pentagon vs central DC locations, would suggest how much we pay for the decentralization of employment, and why increasing allowed height in the most desirable office locations is important for non-SOV mode share.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 15, 2016 3:21 pm • linkreport

The equivalent would be if the Pentagon was located at the Eisenhower Ave station on the yellow line or Van Dorn station on the Blue Line.

AMC used to be in that area pre-BRAC and I don't believe they met the rules then.

by FreeStahlin on Jan 15, 2016 3:23 pm • linkreport

I would hope this discussion of NIH vs the Pentagon vs central DC locations, would suggest how much we pay for the decentralization of employment, and why increasing allowed height in the most desirable office locations is important for non-SOV mode share.

No argument from me here.

Of course, there's a catch there too. To make the centralization work, you need tremendous amounts of mass transit capacity at peak times. Eventually, you are forced to build new lines to keep up. DC has now reached that point with the BL/SV/OR mess, but now the question becomes who pays the hefty price tag to add new capacity?

by ArlingtonFlyer on Jan 15, 2016 3:44 pm • linkreport

ArlFlyer

New capacity can be added prior to building a new line, as outline in the Momentum plan. And a new metro rail line has multiple benefits for the region. Additionally a new Long Bridge with 4 tracks (that project is at last moving along again) will also provide addition capacity, as will some surface transit improvements. And of course central DC also has the highest bike and walk shares.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jan 15, 2016 3:53 pm • linkreport

If you arrive on campus after 8:50am, all of the parking will be full. Instead of capping the parking, they should be adding more parking.

by Stu on Jan 20, 2016 11:36 am • linkreport

It seems to me that the NCPC ratios are too high in this scenario.

Those in the heart of DC should not get any free parking. If there are spaces in the building, employees should pay market rate for them.

In areas that are near-core, but not core (like Arlington and the rest of DC outside downtown), the policy should be similar to Downtown if you are within 1500 feet of a stop. If you are more than that, there should be a shuttle bus and a parking ratio of 1:2.

In areas that are out of the core, but within 1500 feet of a stop, the parking ratio should be 1:2. Between 1500 feet and 1 mile, 1:1.5. More than a mile, 1:1. Why should we be so generous with the parking ratio here? Because even if your office is right next to a Metro, it is only feasible if you live close to the same Metro line. If you live along the red line corridor, Metro is convenient to get to NIH, but for those who don't you are imposing a huge burden.

Earlier, someone mentioned that there are different buildings on the NIH campus. I would argue that even under NCPC's policy, the parking ratio should be employed on a building to building basis. So more parking should be provided for those buildings that are more than 10 minute walk from the Metro than those who are closer in. Don't assume that the whole NIH campus should be on the 1:3 ratio because it is on a Metro line. Parts of the campus are quite far from the station - and the employees there should be provided parking.

by mrsman on Jan 27, 2016 1:01 pm • linkreport

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