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Parking Holds Up Planned Micro-Units in Logan Circle

by Lark Turner

image
An earlier rendering of the development, facing Church Street NW. Peter Fillat.

A parking issue is preventing a proposed micro-unit project in Logan Circle from moving forward.

The development at 1456-1460 Church Street NW (map) would house about 38 micro-units, but it made headlines last year when the developers proposed a parking prohibition plan.

Because the developers are hoping to move forward without any parking spaces at the new project, residents would be required to sign a lease that would not allow them to apply for a residential parking permit or any guest permits. Developers Brook Rose and Gregg Busch have proposed giving the building’s first residents a one-year subscription to a car- or bike-sharing service.

But the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) wasn’t ready to sign off on the idea on Tuesday.

The BZA asked the developers to come back in late February with more evidence that the parking plan would work, and asked them for a study that proves the building wouldn’t add to parking problems in the area. The proposed plan has already received support from the Office of Planning, the Historic Preservation Office, the local ANC and other agencies.

The developers also plan to check whether residents were adhering to their lease by periodically requesting parking permit information for the address from the DMV. The BZA wants to see that in writing from the DMV or DDOT.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Rose told UrbanTurf that it isn’t possible to provide sufficient parking for residents on the small and narrow lot, which will incorporate three rowhouses currently standing on the property. But he argued that the lack of parking adds to the downsizing ethos the building would aim to promote.

“The zoning plan calls for high pedestrian activity. I think it’s a shining example of increasing density while maintaining the historic fabric of the street,” Rose said. “People are willing to give up space and their cars to be in the city center where the action is happening.”

The parking prohibition plan was particularly hounded by the BZA’s Peter May, who shared more than a few pointed opinions at Tuesday’s meeting. He asked the developers to explore the feasibility of offering every resident who signs a lease a free year-long subscription to a car- or bike-sharing service, instead of just the first residents to sign up. He also vehemently rejected the developers’ claim that a structure on the roof didn’t violate the Height Act, saying it “flies in the face” of the Act.

Rose and Busch agreed to change the design plans in response to May’s objections. They’ll also be submitting those updates next month.

See other articles related to: micro units, logan circle

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/lack_of_parking_holds_up_planned_micro-units/7967

20 Comments

  1. kob said at 8:27 pm on Tuesday January 7, 2014:

    I am all for micro-units as an affordable, low-energy efficient option, but completely opposed to parking restrictions.

    As time goes by, and long after the developers have vanished and converted the units to condos,(if they aren’t now being built as condos), it will burden the city with ongoing enforcement.

    It will put the District in the position of managing issues that arise because the parking restrictions. 

    Some residents will seek waivers because of changing life circumstances. Telling micro-residents them that their only alternative is to sell and move or rent garage space is not a position the city should be in. This makes the District a quasi-property manager.

    I find the idea of denying people RPPs because of where they choose to live offensive.

  1. Chris said at 10:23 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I think something being missed by Peter May and other opponents of the restriction is the self-selecting aspect of this property. While enforcement may be an eventual problem for one or two residents in the future, the very fact that this building does not provide parking should indeed weed out anyone who is unwilling to give up their car.  Put another way, there are enough people in DC living car-free or desiring to give up their cars to live in a walkable, transit-accessible place like this that will attract them.  Forcing the developer to provide parking here is unnecessarily expensive, and that expense will only get passed on to the people who want to live car-free in the first place.

  1. chris said at 11:06 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I could see maybe doing a gradual no parking restriction.  Perhaps in the first 2-yrs, no one in the building can get a parking pass.  Then in the next 2-yrs, maybe 30-50% of the building could get a pass.  Then the restrictions are completely removed after 2 more years (although, I doubt there would be more than 50% need).  With a 2-year construction/permitting process, this gives the neighborhood, 4-6 years to adjust.  Those in the area that don’t living in an increasingly urban area have several years to relocate to a slower pace area more to their liking.

  1. Frank said at 11:17 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    There are two significant issues hanging out there, swinging in the breeze.

    1. Enforceability - Like the Douglas Development project in Tenley, there is no way to enforce the no vehicle restriction. Putting it in a lease is ridiculous. The city can’t enforce it.  This developer “says” they will check. Yeah, right…sure they will.  Most landlords can’t enforce basic noise restrictions in their own buildings, I find it hard to believe they are going to spend the time and money regularly investigating all their tenants to make sure they didn’t get an RPP and enforce parking laws on the streets around them.  Then the next question is, what do you do if you find one who ignored the “rule”. Does anyone here thing the landlord is going to go through the expense of throwing out a good tenant who regularly pays what will be the top market pricing for these units, because they went and got an RPP?  Of course not.

    The ONLY way to make this work is to follow Arlington County’s example. To put the addresses of no RPP buildings into the DMV and Tax database, so people can’t simply go get an RPP after they sign a lease, which is exactly what they will do.

    2. Where are the real world empirical studies that say that the developers will pass on the cost, savings if you were to jettison the parking minimums and they don’t have to build parking? The developer will charge the maximum amount the market will let him. Just because he saved ~10% on the cost of the development by “not” building parking, doesn’t mean he is going to reduce the monthly rent by 10% because he is a nice guy. He will simply charge what everyone else is charging, and pocket the savings.

    Lastly, considering the people who push for stuff like this, Planning Director Tregoning and GGW’s David Alpert, who both live in trendy downtown locations with multi-modes of overlaping transit options, still own their own vehicles. I find it a little hypocritical that the people who push for these policies continue to own their own personal vehicals and have offstreet parking for them.

  1. kob said at 11:32 am on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    There’s merit in the idea of gradual restrictions,  but it’s still too much social engineering. I do agree with the point that the lack of parking, by itself, will weed out car owners.

    We need to get away from the idea that parking minimums are needed. By increasing density near public transit routes, hopefully unit availability will increase, costs won’t be as prohibitive, and the District can fully realize its investments in public transportation.

  1. U Street Buzz said at 12:09 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    Frank said:

    “Like the Douglas Development project in Tenley, there is no way to enforce the no vehicle restriction.”

    and:

    “To put the addresses of no RPP buildings into the DMV and Tax database, so people can’t simply go get an RPP after they sign a lease, which is exactly what they will do.”

    You addressed the thing you are calling a major issue. It’s not an issue for the reason you stated. This is being done at the project at 14th & Wallach (and maybe other places) so there is already precedent in DC.

  1. Frank said at 12:40 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    U Street, no it isn’t. The issue hasn’t been addressed at all, because while that Douglas Project has been approved, it hasn’t broken ground yet and thus, isn’t being lived in.

    Considering Douglas Development is widely known as the cities “least moral” developer, who constantly stiffs the city in millions of dollars a year in property tax, letting him of all people “try” a new unproven and contentious method of parking restrictions that allow him to save tons of money, but give neither him or the city any method of enforcement, was an awful idea.

    When the project is finished, I can promise you residents of that project will get RPP’s, and nothing will be done about it.

    Same with this if it goes through. Unless it is done the Arlington way, there is no way to enforce it and it will be highly abused. The result, the developer is laughing his azz off because he got out of spending hundreds of thousands, millions perhaps building parking, pocketed the savings while still charging the market prices his competitors charge,  and made the parking problems he introduced into the neighborhood the Districts, and the Districts taxpayers problem.

  1. Chris said at 12:43 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I have no problems with a building not providing parking, but I don’t think it’s fair to exclude it’s residents from getting an RPP. They pay city taxes just like everybody else, and should be entitled to the same city services that those taxes provide.

  1. Colin said at 1:00 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    There is an easy fix here: 1)let the residents apply for parking permits 2) establish roughly how many parking spots there are in the area 3)raise the price of permits so that demand=supply. City gets more money, people who barely use their cars and keep them parked for long stretches off streat will have an incentive to either get rid of the car or pay for long-term parking and parking spaces aren’t overcrowded.

  1. Ann Tyson said at 4:18 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    Of course there would be no parking problem if DC denied parking to all the residents of VA and MD who insist on driving into the city. Why don’t they park and ride? Or perhaps the city should take the Tokyo proof-of-parking model ie you can only own a car if you can prove you own of have long term rental of a parking spot? Worth a thought as the current system just does not work.

  1. Carl Kramer said at 4:21 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    These comments assume that people who live downtown actually work downtown. The harsh reality is that many who choose to live in Logan do so not for personal rather than work reasons. Many of us commute to MD, VA and further every day for work - often to areas which aren’t serviced by public transport. We need a car to do this. So please don’t assume everyone who lives downtown can survive without a car.

  1. Don Deepness said at 4:27 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I live in one of the new buildings on 14th St. Our developer got out of including parking because they provided us with one year’s zipcar and bikeshare membership. 80% of my nieghbors still own a car which they park on the already congested street. I have a dozen or so friends who live in buildings in similar situations. Many of them live in “no permit” buildings and still have permits. In one case, they hold three RPPs for one 2brm “no permit” unit. With parking spots selling for $15-40 grand and rentals expensive and hard to find I don’t know what the solution is for this area (although I like Arlington’s no nonsense solution.

  1. wawa said at 4:44 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    Completely agree with kob and others in that development should be allowed without parking, but that no restrictions should be placed on obtaining RPP (other than same restrictions everyone else in the neighborhood abides by).  When parking becomes unbearable, ALL people will start finding alternate methods of traveling - not just those in the micro-units.  No one is entitled to street parking and just because you were able to park last year, doesn’t mean those spots are “yours”.  They belong to the public, and the RPP permits may make it easier for you as a resident to park, but I do not agree that we should have first and second class residents in the same neighborhood.  Besides, the street-parkers who are looking for protection from the “new residents” already have some off-street parking in their own buildings, don’t they?  This seems completely elitist to me, and that’s coming from someone who is elitist!

  1. DCshaw said at 5:05 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    Why does the city care? The resident pays city taxes, gas taxes and tickets when parked illegally.  Residents if they can’t find street parking with park in one of the public garages and pay the monthly fee (including the taxes).
    so why all the roadblocks.  The city should want more people in DC paying property taxes.

  1. Church Street Resident said at 10:05 pm on Wednesday January 8, 2014:

    I lived in a building in DC and was denied a parking permit because that building was listed as an address not eligible for parking permits so DMV does monitor this…and it was a total bummer. But I understood why…supply couldn’t meet demand, so no new RPPs…

    My issues with this building is not the lack of parking but with this developer and the building itself… In my opinion, the developer presents the information that they want to present to make them look the best like every developer in the city.
    Having met with them, the site plan does include parking, depending on the configuration it includes 2-4 parking spots. If not owning a car is a requirement of living in the building, why are they including parking? They claim it’s for car share…but with Car2go being able to park anywhere - legal or illegal, why provide this perk? There are also cars available through other car share programs available in the Metropole.

    They claim the units are micro-units, the smallest (I believe) is larger than the 484 square foot studio I lived in when I first moved to DC. The developer even said that they were going to provide “a couple” of 1-2 bedrooms in the presentation I was able to attend.

    The building is not consistent with the rest of the block, nor is it consistent with the look and feel of Church Street. When the building at 14th and Church, being built now, was first presented, a primarily steel and glass structure design was shown. A steel and glass commercial building facing 14th Street—it was deemed to not fit in with 14th street and design changes were made…why is a steel and glass structure now allowed to fit in with a residential street, that is primarily repurposed historic structures of brick and glass? This is not going to fit in, from a design perspective or a use perspective since Church is primarily condo buildings.

    Regardless of use and design, of which I am clearly not a fan, this street is not capable of 30+ more units. In the past 90 days I have personally witnessed, either the actual act or the evidence of no less than 3 oversized moving trucks destroying cars on Church Street, all hit and runs. Church Street is a street already stressed by car traffic, bar traffic, two gyms and two high traffic barbers. Additional rental inventory is going to bring more noise, more moving trucks and over-sized trucks are eventually going to result in the removal of a whole side of street parking because property owners are going to backlash, and the city will instead of reducing sidewalk widths, reduce parking further (or take a way parking for a flipping bike lane…).

    WASA has already acknowledged that the sewer and water on this street is at capacity, it is not capable of handling run off water, and now we want to allow 30+ washer and dryers, 30+ toilets and showers?

    Cable - Comcast - which in the best of environments delivers AOL dial-up speeds in a broadband world, is experiencing what they term as noise on the line (more than likely a kinked line the tech told us), degrading signals from the “node” to buildings, but because of the “no more digging up our streets”, can not provide a time line of when this can be corrected.

    So yes, it’s a great idea to let a developer add 30+ units on an over populated street…NOT

  1. LoganRes said at 11:51 am on Thursday January 9, 2014:

    We should let the market determine whether buildings are built with or without parking.  If you absolutely need a car or just like having a car for convenience, then you will really think before you buy a unit that has no parking.  If street parking becomes impossible, we will see folks either sell their cars or move.  We may also see a drop in the number of folks driving in from VA and MD to dine out.  The market will drive us in the direction that serves us best.  None of own the streets and we shouldn’t let parking keep our city from densifying in zoned areas that can support it both by city services and demand.  The cable and sewer stories are not true and we need to stop the cycle of spinning lies to try to persuade opinions.

  1. Lark Turner said at 12:24 pm on Thursday January 9, 2014:

    Hi Church Street Resident,

    I just wanted to correct something on the parking issue because I think the developer’s plans have changed since their presentation to the community that you attended.

    At the zoning board meeting this week, the developer said that in response to neighbor requests, they’ve changed the plan to make the two parking spots in the back Loading Zone Only.

    Hope that’s helpful —

    Lark Turner

  1. Adam Smith said at 2:07 pm on Thursday January 9, 2014:

    The market will drive us in the direction that serves us best.

    Ever hear on an externality?  It is a cost that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost.  Please think before you mindlessly parrot some “free-market” drivel.

  1. Metro said at 4:07 pm on Thursday January 9, 2014:

    I love when it comes to cars and parking, it should all be free market, but when it comes to your metro ride to work, the free market is trash.

    According to WMATAs budget the average trip subsidy for a bus or rail ride is 4 bucks, so I am subsidizing your average round trip to work by 8 bucks a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, or to the tune of ~2000 a year. This doesn’t even include 1 dollar towards the tens of billions it cost to build.

    If you insist on going all free market with cars and parking, then you get to go all free market with your metro rides, deal?  You can pay the true prices of ~ 12 bucks per ride that it cost to build and operate the “free market” metro.

  1. Publicus said at 4:45 pm on Thursday January 9, 2014:

    True enough, Metro, but I’d wager automobile infrastructure receives waaaay more of a taxpayer subsidy than public transit does.

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