Archive for the ‘parking’ category

ANC1A Votes to Oppose DC Council’s Small Business Parking Bill

March 13, 2017

Enhanced parking sign limiting parking to area residents only.

On March 8, 2017, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) that represents Park View and northern Columbia Heights voted unanimously to oppose Council Bill 22-0125 that would expand access to the residential parking permit program (RPP) for small businesses having 10 employees or fewer that abut residential RPP blocks. Small business would pay the same annual $35 per pass rate that residents currently pay. The bill was introduced by Councilmembers Robert White (at-large), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), and Brandon Todd (Ward 4) on February 21, 2017. The bill had no co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

The resolution passed by ANC1A identified the following areas that the legislation does not address:

  • the high demand for parking on public residential streets that currently exists in Ward 1;
  • how small business parking permits would be managed within the context of Ward 1’s enhanced RPP program; and,
  • if small businesses would be permitted to participate in the RPP program if they are located in new buildings where residents have been denied participating in the RPP program through restrictive covenants.

More broadly, the bill raises questions of equity and fairness. Currently, large developments that are unable to provide off-street parking are restricting their future residents from participating in the RPP program, suggesting that local streets are already at capacity with no space remaining for new residents. If participation in the RPP program is extended to out-of-District employees of business, does this set a precedent to other out-of-District employees such as teachers, police officers, firemen, etc.. Lastly, there is not indication that there any consideration was given for limited use of metered parking space on commercial corridors for employees. In any case, there certainly was no outreach from the Council to ANC1A prior to the introduction of the bill.

ANC1A will continue to be engaged on this issue as it is reviewed by the Council. On Wednesday, the ANC voted to oppose the Small Business Parking Permit Act of 2017 as it found the bill as introduced to be lacking an equitable balance for both businesses and residents. The approved ANC resolution identified a number of areas of concern, some being that it:

  • promotes a greater overall reliance on automobiles;
  • offers no rational for extending parking benefits to non-District residents;
  • does not audit the current availability of on-street parking or require DDOT to perform a transportation impact study on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis throughout the District of Columbia; and,
  • does not take into account the deeply subsidized fee currently extended to District residents when setting the fee for small business parking.

The full resolution is below:

Could Bioretention Bulbouts Increase Safety and Parking at Park Place and Quebec?

February 8, 2017

Recently I began thinking about how to improve safe access to the small triangle park at Rock Creek Church Rd. and Park Place after a neighbor asked if it would be possible to close the street or add speed bumps to the small section of Park Place that directly abuts the neighborhood on the west of the park. After giving it much though, I think the best solution would be to add a few bioretention bulbouts to the area. However, it would require buy-in from the neighbors and a lot of sustained advocacy from the community. Below is a quick and dirty illustration that conveys the idea.

park-place-bump-outs(Areas outlined in green could be reconfigured as bioretention bulbouts, adding additional green infrastructure and calming traffic.)

The main problem with Park Place minor as it is configured today is that cars using this street take little heed for pedestrians and others as they travel from Rock Creek Church Road to Park Place major. The street is necessarily wide, and the crosswalk and stop sign at the southern end are set back, so as that anyone stopping at the stop sign is too far back from the road to see traffic on  Park Place major. Driver that do stop have to creep to the end of the street to see oncoming traffic — both cars and cyclists in the bike lanes — and this is if they stop at all. Frequently, drivers on this small stretch fail to stop at the stop sign and do a rolling stop as they turn to head south.

Closing the street doesn’t seem to be a good solution either, as the residents who live on the street would lose three parking spaces and it would make it necessarily difficult for delivery vehicles, moving vans, fire trucks, and ambulances to serve the these houses.

Strategic placement of bioretention bulbouts could narrow the entrance and exit of the street to a single lane. The benefit of this is that is would calm traffic and make the crosswalks shorter (and safer) to cross. A bulbout on the southern end of the triangle park would remove one parking space, increasing viability and safety for drivers and cyclists … and the bulbout on the southern end could be configured to add street parking by one to three spaces depending upon configuration.

The only significant down side I see is cost, so there would need to be both consensus among the neighbors most impacted and a sustained advocacy.

Perhaps the way to “sell” this to DDOT, DOEE,& the Council would be to bundle a number of these smaller projecting into a pilot program.

Banning New Developments From Participating in Residential Parking Program Is Destined to Fail

August 8, 2016

700 block of QuebecA few readers have reached out to me regarding Urban Turf’s coverage of whether or not bans on residential parking permits (RPP) at select new residential developments is enforceable. On July 28th, Urban Turf received the following from DDOT confirming that there is no enforcement from DDOT or DMV when it comes to such properties.

“When residents apply for an RPP, DDOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles may not be aware of a contractual agreement between a landlord and tenant. There is no self-exemption process under current regulations, thus eligible residents applying for RPPs may receive them. The current exemption clauses being proffered during the zoning process are to be enforced between the developer, landlord, and any future tenants.”

While some found this surprising, I did not. I have long be of the opinion that buildings banning participation in the RPP program in exchange for providing the number of parking spaces required by zoning was a house of cards. During my time on ANC1A, we have reviewed several developments seeking relief from the amount of parking required by zoning. The Commission has supported some requests and opposed others. However, there has only been one instance where the developer proposed denying residents of the future building from participating in RPP parking. The project in question was considered by the ANC on October 8, 2014, and is destined for 3619 Georgia Avenue (southeast corner with Princeton).

The ANC opposed the requested parking relief even after the attorneys told us that the owner would voluntarily deny residents from RPP participation. While this seemed like a reasonable trade off to some, it did not sway my position precisely because I believed that 1) such an arrangement would be unenforceable, and 2) that denying residents access to the RPP parking would be illegal.

In addition to the latest news that neither DDOT nor DMV has a mechanism to enforce such exclusion from the parking program, I also believe that even if these agencies were able to track and enforce parking restrictions that such enforcement could be illegal — especially in Ward 1 where denying residents from participating in the RPP program is contrary to D.C. Law 18-240, which states that “Any resident owning a vehicle registered at an address on a Ward 1 residential block may be granted a Zone 1 residential parking sticker.”

In short, buildings that may agree to not participate in the RPP program in exchange for relieve from parking requirements are only kicking the can down the road. They may be able to prevent residents from obtaining parking permits in the short term, but eventually the house of cards will come tumbling down. There are good reasons to support parking relief, and there are good reasons to oppose parking relief, but in either case we should not fool ourselves that exempting a building from participating in the RPP program is a long-term solution that is sustainable.

 

DC Snow Emergency Begins at 9:30 am, Friday — Parking Available at DC USA

January 21, 2016

Mayor Bowser has declared a snow emergency starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, January 22. This means starting at 9:30 a.m. parking will be prohibited on emergency snow routes in the city (see map below), which include Georgia Avenue, 16th Street, U Street, and parts of Park Road, Kenyon, Irving, Columbia, Harvard, Florida and 9th in Ward 1.

Once the Official Snow Emergency goes into effect on Friday, then DC USA will allow nearby residents to use the parking facility for the price of $1 per day. According to DPW, upon arrival residents will receive a ticket and have their name and license plate information recorded by a U Street attendant. On their departure, the resident will present the same ticket received in order to get the discounted parking rate. Once the emergency has been lifted, any residents still using parking in the garage will be charged the difference, at the standard rate, for the time they were in the garage.

Snow emergency route map

Visitor Parking Passes Begin Arriving, Register to Get Yours

December 29, 2015

The 2016 visitor parking passes began arriving by mail over the weekend. Unlike previous years, residents must request them from DDOT to receive them. Registration for the VPP began on December 1, 2015 and will be open until December 1, 2016. Registeration for the 2016 VPP began on December 1, 2015 and will be open until December 1, 2016. More information on the VPP program can be found at the DDOT VPP page.

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Should There Be a Special RPP Zone Around the Georgia Avenue Metro Station?

December 10, 2015
Typical residential parking sign with regular hours of 7 am to 8:30 pm

Typical residential parking sign with regular hours of 7 am to 8:30 pm

On-street parking has long been an issue in the neighborhood, and over the years it has only become harder for residents to park near their residences. Over the past several years, blocks like the 400 blocks of Newton, Otis, and Princeton have all changed from open parking to Residential Permit Parking blocks, leaving few remaining non-RPP blocks in the neighborhood. In 2012 residents in Ward 1 also began to participate in Enhanced Residential Permit Parking which reserved one side of the street for Ward 1 residents only, leaving the opposite side available to non-residents for 2 hours of parking or longer with a visitor’s pass.

However, neither the RPP or Enhanced RPP programs take into account the location of the Georgia Avenue Metro station or the impact it has on area parking. The station is located on the north side of the Ward 1/Ward 4 border, and RPP borders are duel zoned when it comes to RPP. For example, Rock Creek Church Road is the current boundary between Wards 1 and 4. So, when it comes to the RPP Zone designation, that means that border streets as well as the blocks directly north and south of the border all get duel zone designation. The intent was to make parking fair for residents living near Ward borders, but it also potentially opens these streets up to residents from the entirety of two Wards parking there. At the Metro station east of Georgia Avenue, that means that Rock Creek Church Road, Quincy Street, and Quebec Place are all zoned 1/4 and any resident with a Zone 1 or 4 sticker can park on these streets.

Normally, this would not be a problem. However, as stated above, there is a Metro station in this mix … and over the years residents from further north have begun to use these dual zoned streets as commuter parking. I noticed this in 2012 during the Enhanced RPP implementation and things haven’t gotten better since. Most recently, residents frustrated with streets parked up by commuters opposed a Board of Zoning parking variance request for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue due to their concerns that the parking situation would get worse. I appreciate those concerns, yet the opposition to the parking variance request didn’t address the original issue of the area being used as commuter parking.

So the question becomes, has the impact of commuter parking reached a point where DDOT should consider implementing a special RPP Zone around the Georgia Avenue Metro station. Its certainly something I’m going to explore beginning with a request for DDOT to perform a parking study to determine the extent of the problem. The results of that study should provide a clearer understanding of the scale of the issue and suggest appropriate next steps.

Update on 3701 New Hampshire Development

December 3, 2015
Proposed 21-unit building at 3701 New Hampshire Ave, NW.

Proposed 21-unit building at 3701 New Hampshire Ave, NW.

Yesterday, the post-hearing statement for the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) case related to the redevelopment of the former Sweet Mango property was filed (read in full here). The BZA will make a decision on the requested lot coverage and exemption from parking variances on December 8th for the redevelopment of 3701 New Hampshire Avenue NW.

While there were several concerns expressed by those testifying in opposition the the new 21-unit building, the chief concern boiled down to parking and its impact on the surrounding residential blocks. In response to this, the developer is agreeing to restrict residents in the building from participating in the RPP program. The language from the filing is as follows:

The Applicant considered the Board’s request and further studied public comments related to providing an RPP Restriction in the Project. Based upon this, the Applicant is agreeing to restrict application for Residential Parking Permits, although tis transportation consultant found that the Project’s Transporation Demand Management Plan (“TDMP”) is sufficiently robust to address the parking and traffic mitigation concerns on its own and DDOT confirmed the robustness of the TDMP and the Hearing … (although the Applicant believes there will be a chilling effect on the marketability of the Project as a result).

With regards to the requests to relocate the mural, provide additional affordable housing, and local hiring and local retail tenant placement. The statement continues that “such items are typically found in public benefit and amenities packages in Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) applications … and are not applicable to a BZA variance case.” This being the case, the developer restates their commitment to recreating the mural, that they are providing more affordable units than required by law, and is committed to not leasing the retail space to a convenience store.

The case will be decided on December 8th.

 


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