Zoning Board Chair Says DC Needs to Address Parking Permit Issues

by Lark Turner

Zoning Board Chair Says DC Needs to Address Parking Permit Issues: Figure 1

DC’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) seems to think the time is ripe for a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) overhaul. On Tuesday, two different members of the BZA suggested that a look at the way developer-imposed RPP restrictions are enforced is overdue.

“We really as a District gotta get our arms around this RPP use and restriction,” Lloyd Jordan, who chairs the board, said in a discussion about 38 proposed micro-units for 1456-1460 Church Street.

UrbanTurf wrote about the RPP enforcement problem in detail at the end of March. Developers are more frequently proposing buildings that would have little to no parking. As a way to mitigate that, they are promising to limit their new residents’ ability to obtain an RPP. That’s usually good enough for the BZA, except it’s unenforceable by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

The Church Street micro-units floated by Gregg Busch and Brook Rose have gone through a painstaking BZA process, and today their project was delayed again — once more because of parking, according to Jordan, who said he was “not there yet” when it came to the proposed plan for the parking at the project; two other board members approved the parking variance. The developers are providing 4 spots, but 19 are required by zoning. Busch and Rose have proposed an elaborate system to help ensure their residents can’t obtain parking passes, which ANC 2F Commissioner Walt Cain called the best possible solution under current regulations.

The board did approve a special exception for a height variance while delaying the parking issue until next week, because one member was absent and another abstained.

Board member Peter May, who had previously opposed the project, said the current solution worked for him, and voted in favor of both the requested parking variance and the zoning variance. When Jordan suggested the space could be built with fewer units to accommodate underground parking difficulties at the site, May said that was outside the bounds of what the BZA usually requests from developers — and that such a solution could actually be worse for the neighborhood.

“It is not typical that we require an exhaustive explanation of every alternative,” May said. If the building included fewer units, he noted, “you would not have the exception from RPP, there’s no reason for them to grant it, and I think that actually is an exceptional benefit to the community. The Department of Transportation needs to step up and make sure everything that needs to be done is done to ensure that this is a viable mitigation measure.”

DDOT recently told UrbanTurf it is working on a comprehensive parking review and hopes to be finished “in the near future,” though UrbanTurf found references to an ongoing parking review dating back to at least 2004.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/zoning_board_chair_says_district_needs_to_address_parking_permit_issues/8330


  1. NotDavidRicardo said at 7:27 pm on Tuesday April 8, 2014:
    UrbanTurf found references to an ongoing parking review dating back to at least 2004. LOL!
  1. ThinkAhead said at 11:05 pm on Tuesday April 8, 2014:
    RPP-denial is a politically unsustainable solution. Within a year or two, the RPP-denied residents of the "new" building will have lived in the neighborhood longer than at least some of the residents of older buildings (that also lack parking). Moreover, if the goal here is increased density, then the residents of the "new" building will generally outnumber the residents of the older homes in the area. So, ok, now you've got two groups of people who bought housing without parking and both sets vote and pay taxes and want access to street parking and who was here first is no longer an answerable question. Isn't it totally arbitrary to deny access to parking to the group in the newer building?
  1. Judith said at 11:57 pm on Tuesday April 8, 2014:
    Buyer beware! Residents who are not willing to use public transportation need to find housing with its own underground parking. Look for your parking needs before your rent or buy.The suburbs was built for cars. Rent a car or a bicycle. We have so many more choices now.
  1. developersgetrichthikingaboutthemselves said at 2:55 am on Wednesday April 9, 2014:
    Developers across the city are proposing to pack buildings with "micro units" because it's more profitable to do so. Why then should zoning regulations be waived? DC doesn't need any more profit-rich projects by greedy, exception requesting developers.
  1. DCJesse said at 6:13 pm on Wednesday April 9, 2014:
    The four parking spaces the article mentions that the developers plan to provide are not legal spaces, as they are sized for compact cars; the developers would need additional relief for those to count. Thus, they are still hoping to not provide the 19 parking spaces required for the number of units they desire to build. Mr. May seems to forget where he is at--this is not a PUD that is front of the zoning commission (and the developers are certainly not offering any public benefit with this property, something typically done with a PUD). The developers do need to show why they cannot build something that is allowed by the existing zoning to the BZA, that other development alternatives under the existing zoning cannot be done--that is the practical difficulty analysis required for the parking variance.
  1. Please More Buildings said at 7:04 pm on Wednesday April 9, 2014:
    We need more tax paying citizens in DC to cover the housing vouchers, "senior" citizen property tax "relief", summer "jobs" programs, and other politically motivated spending decisions our council and Dem mayors keep shoveling to their base. Restricting parking based on when you decided to move to a neighborhood is discriminatory. If you don't like not being able to find a parking space, then get rid of your car.
  1. Chettworth said at 4:02 pm on Thursday April 10, 2014:
    Wow, lotta cry babies out there! Rent a spot, or buy something with parking. If you can not, that is no ones fault but yours and you must swim with the masses. Legal documents ie condo docs will be enforced to disallow those who contractually agreed to not obtain a RPP. Case closed.
  1. ShawGuy said at 7:12 pm on Thursday April 10, 2014:
    From a legal perspective, it is totally within the rights of a resident in one of these RPP-restricted buildings to challenge the restriction and be issued a parking permit. And I personally know one resident of such a building who was granted one. Street parking is a public good provided by the taxpayers of the District. In contractual law, your property owner cannot legally restrict your activities in or interaction with public space beyond the boundary of the private development. For example, your landlord cannot tell you if you rent a regular apartment from them that you cannot get an RPP sticker for your car, or that you are not allowed to own a car. Those clauses of a lease are not enforceable. Similarly, they cannot tell you that you cannot smoke out on the sidewalk or drink in a bar or tell you that you cannot wear clothes with polka dots on them if you so choose. They can put it in a lease, but it isn't enforceable. Similarly, these condos create two separate classes of taxpaying residents. Taxpayers that pay for and have access to residential street parking and taxpayers that pay for but are deprived of access to residential street parking. If anyone ever had the sense to challenge this concept, they would certainly win. You cannot discriminate against residents of specific buildings and deprive them of a specific public good that is available to everyone else and that they are still required to pay for, even though they are denied access to it.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!