Several Transportation Ideas Proposed Affecting Georgetown

Photo by CascadeFoto.

Recently several DC pols have issued some proposals that could significantly impact Georgetown’s transportation mix. Some of the ideas are good, others bad.

Let’s start with the good.

Up until Chris Ziemann left DDOT last year, Ward 2 had a dedicated DDOT planner. This position can coordinate transportation projects across the ward. Further it can lobby DDOT on the ward’s behalf and bring a unified vision across multiple projects and neighborhoods. Unfortunately since Chris left, the position has remained empty and Mayor Gray recommended it simply be cut completely. Councilmember Tommy Wells, however, proposed that this position–as well as the vacant ward planner positions for Wards 3 and 5–be filled again. This is a good proposal.

Additionally, Wells proposed creating a position titled Parking Czar. This individual would spend all his or her time addressing the parking issue. In particular, this person would bring life back to the stalled effort to bring performance parking to DC. This is something that GM has lobbied to bring to Georgetown for a while. In short: right now we price street parking too low and as a result visitors troll the neighborhood looking for free parking rather than simply driving to the pay garages. This increases traffic, encourages people to leave their car parked for as long as possible and makes it more difficult for residents to find a parking spot near their homes. By raising the price of parking enough that there is always at least 10-15% of the street spaces open, we can encourage more turnover. Plus, the additional parking fees will get plowed back into the neighborhood in the form of streetscape improvements, and the like.

Having a parking czar will make it much more likely that such a policy can come to Georgetown.

Finally, speaking of parking, Wells proposed raising the cost of obtaining multiple residential parking permits per household. This is also a policy GM has lobbied for before. Under Wells’ proposal, the first RPP would cost $35 (up from the paltry $15 now). A second RPP would cost $50, and a third would cost $100. (right now it’s just $15 per car no matter how many are registered to the same address). If one house is hogging up all the street parking on a block, at least they’ll pay more to do so, and overtime it would discourage such multicar households.

Also, Wells proposed keeping the Circulator rate at $1.

But here’s the bad.

Our councilmember and neighbor, Jack Evans, has proposed to slash the meter fees in Georgetown (and downtown) from $2.00/hr to $1.00/hr and to make parking free after 6:30 pm. Why is this bad? Because if you have a shortage of a good (in this case, open parking spots) the last thing you want to do is make that good even cheaper. It is the complete opposite of performance parking and it is totally illogical. Evans told the Examiner “I know the anti-car people will say, ‘[higher meter fees are] working, it’s working,’ But I get too many complaints [from restaurant owners] for it to be working.”

Evans will soon learn that peoples’ ability to complain about parking is bottomless. If it’s not the price they’ll complain about, it’s the availability. That’s why we need someone to be a parking czar to look at the problem scientifically and decide the best way to allocate street parking in a way that benefits the most, not the loudest.

It’s important to note that it very well may be that meter fees are too high in some places and/or at some times, including some places in Georgetown. The test is how full the spaces get. If they are too full, for too long, they’re too cheap. But if they’re too empty, for too long, then they’re too expensive (or there’s too much of it at that location). GM doesn’t think the parking fee should be higher in all places at all times, just where and when the demand is too high. But Evans’ proposal leaves no room for flexibility.

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7 Comments

Filed under Transportation

7 responses to “Several Transportation Ideas Proposed Affecting Georgetown

  1. Ken Archer

    Yes, yes, yes.

  2. Jacques

    Well put, GM. I’ve never understood why lowering fees would be a solution to the current demand-outstrips-supply situation.

  3. Bailey

    DDOT planners? Parking czars? I love this blog.

  4. RobRob

    While I am an outsider in total agreement with the performance parking ideas proposed here, the restauranteurs who are lobbying Jack Evans have a point, too. If people won’t drive to Georgetown because the parking fees are (perceived to be) to high, they may choose to go to a restaurant in a different neighborhood instead of choosing options like public transportation.

    Of course, the beauty of performance parking is that it can be designed to more intelligently deal with traffic/parking patterns than simply charging a flat rate per hour.

  5. andy

    In regards to what Jack Evans is proposing – how about a compromise free evening parking Mon-Thur (after 7pm)?
    And raising the fees on RPP – $35 is too low I say $50 for the first, $75 2nd and $150 for the 3rd. To save $$ on implementing the program make them good for two years.

  6. RNM

    I would like to reiterate my strenuous objection the the performance parking nonsense. I listened theNPR discussion on it with an expert from UCLA I think…(think it is the one GM has referred to in the past) and after listening, found the concept even more offensive. Ultimately, it is an attempt to take our common ground funded by the taxpayer and save it for only the wealthy…or those willing to pay overpriced rates. Why not just put a velvet rope around Georgetown to keep the riff-raff out? Ideas like this actually give the term elitist a bad name.

    I don’t really care much about the lowering of the hourly rate…but do think that the parking meter should have a cutoff time so that our restaurants and nightlife establishments can succeed. It never ceases to amuse me the opposition that people have toward large chain type stores and restaurants…and then turn around in the next breath and seek to inhibit the success of smaller businesses.

    On the RPP, if your goal is to discourage multiple car households…then the rate you are suggesting is a joke. I paid $70 to fill my tank last week…a $100 fee isn’t really going to cut into my willingness to own a $30,000 vehicle that costs thousands in yearly maintenance and gas. Make it $10,000.00 for that second car an you you may get some effect. Making it $100 is just a revenue enhancement scheme. Oh, and last I checked…we paid taxes that are used to fund those streets…and as citizens have equal rights to them. Then again, I remember what parking was like before the GM ever got to Georgetown…hint it was a lot worse and the current whining about it feels like a case of “you will never be able to please people”.

    And since everyone is getting their parking pet peeve in here. How about getting rid of the Residential restrictions on Saturdays? At one point, I could invite people to my home without requiring them to pay to park in a garage for an afternoon cookout…not anymore. And of course if the night goes late the guests end up with cars locked in garages because not all of us end our nights early. Not a huge fan of the extended hours on week nights either…but I pick my battles. ;)

    RNM

  7. Pingback: Georgetown Businesses and Residents Don’t Support Evans’ Meter Proposal | The Georgetown Metropolitan

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