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New Proposal Could Take Block-by-Block Look at DC’s Parking Problems

  • April 14, 2014

by Lark Turner

New Proposal Could Take Block-by-Block Look at DC's Parking Problems: Figure 1

A recently proposed bill from DC Councilmember Mary Cheh would create a Department of Parking Management to deal with issues related to parking and ridership on public transportation in the city, and it is likely to pass, The Washington Post reported last week. The plan would likely tackle the complex regulatory and enforcement issues plaguing the District’s residential parking permit system, which we’ve been looking at in detail over here at UrbanTurf. Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayoral primary winner, is a co-sponsor of Cheh’s bill. The bill does several things, but we’ll focus on parking for the moment.

Right now, per zoning regulations, residential developers need to provide a certain number of parking spots at their new projects. But as space dwindles in DC’s most popular neighborhoods, more developers are asking for exceptions to that rule, which are granted (or not) by the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). In exchange, developers say they’ll limit residents’ ability to obtain Residential Parking Permits (RPPs) or ban them from getting the permits altogether. Trouble is, those developers’ promises are unenforceable by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT). That’s created plenty of problems for both DC developers and area residents.

Developers proposing the above trade-offs have gotten mixed responses to requests for parking variances from the BZA. Madison Investments received permission from the board and is under construction on a 56-unit building at 14th Street and Wallach Place NW; meanwhile, a 38-unit building proposed for Church Street NW has been repeatedly delayed by the BZA, whose chair has said he is not convinced that the parking issue has been solved by the developers. The board’s chair, Lloyd Jordan, has publicly urged the city to figure out a way to make the developers’ promises enforceable.

Cheh’s proposal would put all the policy and enforcement arms related to parking under one department. They’re currently spread between DDOT, which issues policy, including telling people where they can park; the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is in charge of various parts of the process, like sending out RPPs and adjudicating tickets; and the Department of Public Works, which issues those tickets. The new department, which has earned mixed reactions from locals, would almost certainly be responsible for solving the RPP problem (and its much-debated cousin, the visitor parking permit problem).

Meanwhile, there’s a shake-up in the works at DDOT, where the director and top engineer have both stepped down in the last week. Bowser, widely assumed to be Mayor Vince Gray’s successor, has said she’s not interested in stepping on any developments currently in the works, but given Cheh’s proposal, now may be a good time to start asking questions.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/new_proposal_could_take_block-by-block_look_at_dcs_parking_problems/8355

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