Posts about Meter Hours
Last year's mayoral race was a contentious one, and created many bad feelings on both sides. Even now, each time an issue comes up that even tangentially relates to Mayor Gray that's negative, a cadre of Fenty supporters gleefully post comments basically saying, "told you so."
In particular, many of the comments pertain to my personal endorsement for Gray. There are clearly some people who want me to repudiate that decision, and declare that I was wrong,
that Fenty was perfect, Gray 100% rotten to the core, that Gray has had his mind made up all along to oppose bike infastructure, or transit, or school reform, or better taxi service.
Nothing is that simple. I've definitely been disappointed by some of what's happened, especially the hiring scandals. But Gray's record on our issues has been generally good, though not perfect. Neither was Fenty's.
Don't forget that Fenty was supportive of progressive transportation until a campaign donor asked him to kill a planned sidewalk, and then suddenly he wasn't. Or all the development projects that went to poorly qualified developers, or his outright refusal to implement inclusionary zoning. Or Peter Nickles.
The Gray administration made a significant funding commitment to streetcars, and Gray has announced his desire to make DC a platinum-level bicycle-friendly city. On the other hand, he didn't keep Gabe Klein (but elevated his deputy) and his support for cycle tracks is tenuous.
A few comments aside, though, we still don't know if the decision to put L and M street cycle tracks on hold came from Gray, or Bellamy, or someone else. There are even people in the bicycle program at DDOT who aren't very enthusiastic about cycle tracks and are reluctant to move them ahead absent strong support from above.
Or, perhaps they'll move it with strong support from the public. Tommy Wells' chief of staff Charles Allen said they've gotten 1,054 emails supporting the cycle tracks. He's already supportive, but DDOT and the Mayor's office are getting the same emails.
When we got funding restored for streetcars, it wasn't because a bunch of people reacted to the news by saying that they wished we'd elected Kathy Patterson instead; they flooded Gray's office and got the policy reversed.
Before the election, I wrote,
I'm sure I will disagree with some of his decisions. But I disagree with a lot of what Fenty does. If, and when, Gray does something I think is wrong, I'll say so. I'll push him to be the best possible Mayor, to hire A+ people just like some of Fenty's appointments, but without some of the C- people Fenty also has in the mix.Gray has unfortunately not brought in as many A+ people as I'd hoped, or as many as Fenty did, though he also has fewer C- people. He perhaps has more in the B range than would be ideal.
Ironically, perhaps I think I've become more reluctant to "say so" when Gray has done something wrong because of the childish commenters. Hmm, perhaps they are really Gray supporters trying to dissuade any criticism of the mayor's actions.
Mary Cheh has also been taking a lot of heat for her support for Gray. That seems to have pushed her to become a sort of cross between Tom Smith and Jack Evans, standing up against residents having to endure the foulness of people between the ages of 18 and 22 living in their community and defending the rights of those people who make over $200,000 to avoid sharing anything with people who are losing access to housing and even basic food.
Meanwhile, we've made progress in policy. In the endorsement post, I also wrote,
[Gray] does want to roll back meter hours, though, but I believe after he learns more about parking he'd agree we should only roll them back in some areas and not others.In the last budget, we didn't hear a peep about this from the administration. Bellamy doesn't want to do it. Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser (Fenty supporters, by the way) were the main ones carrying water for that particular bad idea.
Many transportation subjects aren't among the few issues the mayor cares most about and has the strongest opinions about. He's open to suggestions and influence from his staff and from various groups of residents. We need to remind him that many people strongly support the cycle tracks, or whatever other policy we're discussing, and that it's also the right policy. We can do that more effectively if it's not overshadowed by whining about Adrian Fenty's loss.
No mayor is perfect. Maybe in the future we can elect someone that's better than both Fenty and Gray. We also could definitely have mayors who are far worse than either. We can keep dwelling on the past, or we can fight for a better DC. I'm going to keep my eye on the ball and hope you will too.
Addendum: If you believe that Gray is irrevocably opposed to what we believe and was just lying about it to get elected, then it's understandable that you might not think there's any point in lobbying him. Instead, all we can do is gripe about how it's too bad he was elected. But I don't believe that. Instead, he's open to a lot of things, but not always surrounded by people who push them. That means he needs to hear it from residents, and hear it often.
If you haven't already, please take a moment and email email@example.com to provide comments or a note of support. We support the County's proposal, and offer some suggestions for improving the document:
- In order to encourage wary businesses and residents to try out the new variable pricing policy, Arlington should devote a portion of the revenue to local transportation and streetscape improvements.
- Arlington should encourage public acceptance of the variable pricing proposal by conducting a countywide parking occupancy survey of high-density and commercial districts and publishing the results online, along with a staff evaluation and recommendations.
- In general, Arlington should increase or eliminate meter time limits, which are often arbitrary or counterproductive. Once prices are managing occupancy, longer-term parkers will naturally use less convenient or garage spaces, leaving the more convenient spaces for short-term parking.
Any other thoughts or suggestions? Email them to County Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your comments are received by November 2, they can be considered for the staff proposal before the County Board.
Meanwhile, in DC, today is the last day to comment on the K Street options. Whether you prefer Option 2 (2-lane transitway, 3-lane side roads, no bike lane) or option 3 (transitway with passing lane, 2-lane side roads, bike lane), or have your own plan, DDOT would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Submit your comments here.
At the September 26 meeting of the County Board, Arlington officially proposed major changes to its parking and curbspace policies by advertising a new Parking and Curb Space Element (PDF) for the Master Transportation Plan. There's just one more round of public comment before and official Board consideration, scheduled for November 14.
The policy sets a priority hierarchy for curb space. Safety is first: there will be no-parking zones for visibilty and fire access, and curb ramps for pedestrian safety. Other uses are public vehicles like bus service, dedicated or temporary use like taxi stands and car sharing, Short term parking, and long term parking. The relative priority of those uses differs among high, medium, and low-density corridors.
Arlington proposes to vary parking meter hours of operation and prices based on observed parking demand. The policy establishes an 85% target occupancy rate in areas of high demand, as Dr. Shoup has recommend. It extends the hours of meters or adds them where there is demand in excess of supply, and proposes a pilot project to test the effectiveness of variable pricing. This is the biggest change for Arlington and represents a significant step forward toward the parking policies recommended on Greater Greater Washington.
It would be better if the policy stated that some of the parking meter revenue would be earmarked to support improvements in the neighborhoods that have variable meter pricing, in order to get support for the policy, but it's possible to do that even if it's not in the Master Transportation Plan.
Another piece of the proposal, also recommended in Shoup's book, is to "unbundle" parking. Housing and offices will be encouraged to offer parking separately from the rent or condo fee. That allows workers or residents to choose between paying for a parking space, or letting someone else rent it. This reduces the demand for parking spaces and for trips taken by car. We strongly support giving people a choice to pay for parking rather than getting it included automatically.
For some districts like Columbia Pike, Arlington is proposing "in-lieu fees." These fees allow a developer to build less than the required amount of parking if they contribute to a public parking fund. Arlington will use this fund to partner with local private garages and ensure that private garages are available to the public. Arlington should ensure that these fees are related to the costs of building additional parking spaces, so that developers face a real choice. Very expensive spaces should not be built (because it's unlikely people will pay enough to use them), but this fee should not allow developers to pay very little to get out of such a requirement.
For off-street parking, although Arlington will continue to have "free or subsidized parking" around retail businesses, there won't be an effort to entirely satisfy that demand, shifting resources "to more efficient and beneficial public amenities". The county is going to take into account available transit, transportation demand management (TDM) strategies and other factors in reducing required parking.
The county will continue to require "by-right" buildings to include the minimum parking spaces required by the Zoning Ordinance. However, based on site conditions, the County may allow reductions below this minimum. Any developer building more than the minimum site needs may be allowed to donate excess parking to other nearby sites to count toward their requirement.
The draft element promotes on-street parking in residential neighborhoods and commercial streets as a traffic calming measure. For single-family homes, residents should be able to park "within a block" of their home, and high-rise apartments should expect guests and service vehicles to have to park "a few blocks away" at peak times.
The resident parking permit program, the first in the nation, will continue much as it exists today. One change recommends implementing a process where residents can have their zone reviewed to reduce its size and eliminate cross-commuting.
Arlington is proposing an official policy discouraging off-street surface parking. "Nowhere in the County should pedestrians have to walk through a parking in order to access a structure," it reads. Parking lots should be underground, structured, or at worst, screened behind or to the side of a building. Buildings, not parking lots, should face the arterial streets.
There's a lot in this plan to like. Arlington's policies are slowly moving away from the old-style "minimum requirements and low-priced curb parking" used in most of the US, and toward parking policies that reflect demand, the cost of supplying parking, and available alternatives. It doesn't eliminate parking minimums or time limits or attempt to push retail parking prices up to the cost of comparable off-street parking, but this is the policy that can pass politically. Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good, and the most important policy (getting on-street pricing correct) is in the draft element.
The Arlington County Board wants to hear your comments. Comments should go to Ritch Viola at email@example.com.
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