Saturday, June 1, 2013

Parking Requirements in D.C.

Parking Requirements

There are three things you can consistently rely on a neighborhood and residents to raise concerns over: auto-traffic is moving too fast, auto-traffic is cutting through my local streets; AND the big one, they are trying to take away my parking.
The District’s Office of Planning may not necessarily be taking away people’s parking, but they are currently working to amend the code which hasn’t been updated since 1958. One topic which has come under scrutiny are possible changes to parking regulations. Parking regulations is one strategy for travel demand management. The idea is that if parking is scarce and driving is difficult, people will have fewer cars.

The first public meeting on the code revisions brought out a mix of stakeholders who were concerned about the changes to parking requirements. Resident and zoning rewrite opponent John Chelen formed a “task force” consisting of 7 opponents and 3 proponents in Ward 3. The task force produced a white paper purporting to be a fact-based analysis of OP’s recommendations. Chelen then went on to pass a resolution condemning the parking proposals, and is working to pass similar resolution in other Wards.

Greater Greater Washington, a blog devoted to improving D.C., reports on the Chelen’s efforts and the task force’s lop-sidedness and bias against rewriting the parking requirements. The report discusses the series of events from stacking the task force, to procedural shenanigans, to overblown and inaccurate hyperbole. The three proponents on the task force have produced an alternative analysis who did not agree with the white paper.

What’s interesting to note is that ZoningDC, the official blog of the zoning update, mentions that “existing parking requirements are already significantly lower than current rates of car ownership and, as a result, they are more likely to produce too few rather than too many parking spaces”. Why then is OP looking to reduce the supply of parking even further if the current requirements parking requirements are low enough to undersupply demand? Given the opposition’s determination to prevent the parking requirements in the zoning code rewrite it makes you wonder why OP is going through the trouble at all. Maybe D.C. hasn’t heard about Portland’s parking woes.

It seems some people are paying close attention to the long-term affects, an opinion piece in the Washington Post describes how looser parking requirements can help address equity disparities in a radically gentrifying area. The simple version of the concept is that development can pass along saving associated with lower construction costs because there isn’t a need to build in parking. In addition to the cost savings, the space that would have been used for parking can developed into residential or commercial and further increase the supply to meet the demand in a rapidly growing area.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post CJ, thanks for bringing this high-profile example of parking policy to our attention. Tackling the parking issue as a part of a comprehensive zoning review seems like a logical way to do it, though it seems like most cities that are experimenting with adjusting the parking supply are doing so separately or as a pilot project.

    It sounds like the most controversial part of this parking revamp is the elimination of parking minimums for some dense, transit adjacent areas. I was intrigued by the pull-quote from the ZoningDC blog, since I hardly ever hear about parking policy changes that increase some supply while decreasing others. However, following the link reveals that the pull-quote about having too little parking has been removed from the Wash-po op-ed.

    That's unfortunate because it does sound like the zoning proposal is primarily trying to make parking requirements more accurate - whether that involves more or less required parking.


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