Parking Disappearing in the Region?

by Mark Wellborn


In an effort to wean people off their car dependency, DC and close-in counties are putting measures in place to drastically reduce the amount of parking spaces in the metropolitan area. The Washington Post has a story today that examines what is being done in Northern Virginia, Montgomery County and DC to reduce the number of parking spaces.

The catalyst behind this movement is a plan that will be up for approval next month by the county board in Arlington to remove thousands of spaces in the area. DC and Maryland are following suit.

From The Post:

“The District is pulling up parking lots and putting in expensive meters to get drivers out of their cars and onto a train, bus, bike or their feet. Montgomery and Fairfax counties are thinking along similar lines, considering changes to codes to reduce the number of parking spaces builders have to include.”

For the environmentalist in you, it is nice to hear that measures are being taken to reduce congestion and pollution. However, if you are a prospective home buyer with a car, the news that less developments are going to be built with parking spaces might make you cringe. And, according to some interviewed by The Post, if you already own in Arlington and are facing the prospect of losing your existing spot, you are thinking of taking some steps of your own:

“Arlington might be the region’s most transit-friendly suburb, with 11 Metro stations. But Wildwood Towers isn’t near one of them. An express bus a block away can take residents up Columbia Pike to the Pentagon Metro station during rush hours. But taking public transit to work would be inconvenient for Sarah Brodfuehrer, 25, a Fairfax teacher who, with her roommate, searched for four months for a building that had a spot for her Toyota Corolla.

‘If they started charging, it would certainly make me consider moving,’ she said. ‘Parking can add hundreds of dollars to your rent.’”

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/parking_disappearing_in_the_region/1427


  1. Steven said at 5:09 pm on Tuesday October 20, 2009:

    The Post was incorrect on at least a couple major points in this article.  If you look for a comment by mcurtius (Sarah E. Scott, Parking Manager, Arlington County), she notes that the article greatly misrepresented Arlington’s parking plans.

    To quote her: “The plan coming before the board in November would in no way affect existing, free residential or commercial parking.”

    Arlington’s draft plan is here:

    Also, the characterization that the District is “pulling up parking lots” is also incorrect—I know of no plan where DC is planning to remove any existing parking lots.

    What is true is that some area jurisdictions are thinking of or are taking steps to reduce the minimum number of parking spaces that developers must build in new buildings.  This saves money for developers and potentially buyers/renters as well, because parking spaces (especially underground ones) are very expensive to build.  The idea behind many changes is to transition to a policy where the developer will build, to the best of their knowledge, the number of spaces that the market demands as opposed to building to a set minimum number based on square footage or number of units.

    David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington also has a response (though one might argue that his view is slanted another way, he does point out some factual errors):

  1. Lauren said at 7:00 pm on Tuesday October 20, 2009:

    I concur with Steven’s comments. I think it is quite the exaggeration to say that parking is “disappearing” all over the DC region. What is happening is that prime spots near busy commercial corridors will start to be priced according to what they’re worth, which could actually make parking more available for those that need it. Many would much rather pay a few dollars an hour than driving around forever searching for a “free spot.”

    And lifting the requirements on what developers must include makes sense. That way we can avoid scenarios like the parking garage at DCUSA, which is never more than 50% full.

  1. Christy said at 7:36 pm on Tuesday October 20, 2009:

    If developers are not allowed to build more parking, and people keep driving then parking spaces are essentially going to disappear.

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