Posted tagged ‘parking’

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:

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.

 

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.

Development Plans for 3701 New Hampshire Encounter Opposition in Petworth

October 19, 2015
Proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Rendering of proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Last week, the plans to redevelop 3701 New Hampshire Avenue, formerly home to Sweet Mango, encountered opposition from ANC 4C and members of the community. The blow-by-blow of the meeting — described as dysfunctional — is well covered by the Petworth News blog and can be read here. One of the key areas of opposition in that meeting had to do with how the 21-unit building would impact residential street parking.

Last month, ANC 1A also weighed in on the variances required for this project to move forward. Based on the Comprehensive Plan, the goals of the Georgia Avenue Overlay for the corridor, and need for more density and housing in the community, and how the developer is proposing to find solutions to accommodate potential car owners, ANC 1A passed a resolution in support of this development (read here). It is important to note that neither ANC 1A’s support nor ANC 4C’s opposition was unanimous.

It is fair to say that parking is an important issue — and an important quality of life issue. It must also be recognized that no two developments are exactly the same. In the case of 3701 New Hampshire, due to the oddly shaped lot, it just isn’t physically possible to build underground parking on the property, especially to the extent that zoning would require. The property also doesn’t have abutting properties to the north or south within the Georgia Avenue Overlay that would be able to be added to the development making parking possible. Keeping this in mind, along with the property’s close proximity to a Metro station, several bus lines, and a Capital Bikeshare station, there is no reason why this building should not be built. Furthermore, ANC 1A’s request to remove the loading zone and associated curb cut on Rock Creek Church Road as part of their approval should add two on-street parking spaces to the block.

To manage parking, Rooney Properties (the developer) is planning to provide new residents with SmarTrip cards, a bike share membership and car share membership for the first three years. They are also including space for bicycle maintenance and storage within the new building, and the lobby of the building will offer a transit screen that shows the number of bikes available and a real-time Metro train schedule. Rooney Properties is also actively seeking off-street parking options and has noted that several of the recent buildings in the area that have off-street parking are not parked up. They would be willing to provide free parking in these garages to new residents for three years as well.

According to the Petworth News report from the ANC 4C meeting, the following gives an idea of how much off-street parking is available in the immediate area. The Swift apartments (above Safeway) have 70 spots leased of their available 158 spots. The Park Place development has 138 spots leased of their 181 spots, and the 3 Trees Flats has 115 spots leased of their 130 spots. There is a lot of untapped parking potential in these buildings.

But another part of the story that wasn’t part of the ANC 4C discussion — and one important to developing some understanding of the potential hardships the immediate neighbors may face — is how much off-street parking exists in the community. Residents from the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road were among those expressing concern about the potential impact this development could have on that block, so I took the time to walk the alleys to the north and south of that block to see if any off-street parking existed for these properties currently. What I learned was that 63% of the residential properties on the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road currently have some form of off-street parking that they are currently using, or have the potential to use. If I include the west side of Warder street, this goes down to 61%. The map below shows the location of the proposed development and all the residential properties that have off-street parking.

3701 New Hampshire parking analysis 2(Map key: Orange=two-car garage; Yellow=one-car garage; Red=four car garage; Dark Blue=two car parking pad; Light Blue=one car parking pad)

(Note: in taking this survey of parking, I did not include a garage if its entrance was bricked in, but did include a garage if the doors were merely boarded up. In one case, I included a single-car garage that was too small for a modern car, but which had a driveway currently used for off street parking).

Here is how the parking on the residential properties represented on the map above breaks down.

  • There are 54 residential properties on Rock Creek Church Road and the west side of Warder Street. 33 of these properties (61%) have off-street parking.
  • 10 residences (18%) have garages.
    • There is 1 four car garage
    • There are 6 two car garages
    • There are 3 one car garages
  • 23 residences (42.5%) have parking pads
    • 6 properties have two car parking pads
    • 17 properties have one car parking pads
Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Overall, in adding all this up, there are currently 48 spaces on this block for off-street parking. In looking at the south side of the 700 block of Quincy, each residential property there similarly has at least one off-street parking space.

With the amount of off-street parking currently in this area, one starts to question why parking is so tight currently … and based on my observations I believe some (but definitely not all) of this stress is caused by factors other than housing. For instance, the 700 block of Quebec Place and nearby blocks are often stressed due to church parking from the Fisherman of Men Church. I have also witnessed on several occasions residents from further north in Ward 4 using Quebec, Rock Creek Church, and other nearby streets as commuter parking so that they can easily drive, park, and ride Metro. Whether there are solutions to these stresses or not, they certainly aren’t related to development or housing in the immediate community.

Factoring all of this together, I believe that the benefits of the proposed development far outweigh the cons, and that the impact the building may have on parking and the surrounding community will not live up to people’s  worse case scenarios.

DDOT Planning to Increase Parking Meter Time on 3100 and 3200 Blocks of Georgia

June 8, 2015
Soon, the parking meters on the 3100 & 3200 Georgia will be 2 hour meters, like these on Otis Place, NW.

Soon, the parking meters on the 3100 & 3200 Georgia will be 2 hour meters, like these on Otis Place, NW.

Recently, local business owners on the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Georgia advocated to have the time increased on the parking meters, which are currently set at 1 hour of parking. Businesses argued that this was too little time for their patrons, which adversely impacted their businesses.

In response, DDOT evaluated the area around these blocks and found that on the west side of the 3200 b/o Georgia Avenue there are 5 one hour meters installed and 6 meters missing (free Parking) because of new building development. On the east side of the 3200 b/o Georgia Avenue there are 4 one hour meters and 2 missing meters. Additionally in the 3100 block LA Nails, The Tax Services, and MARC also wanted meter time increased.

Due to the initial request and the evaluation findings, DDOT plans to install all missing meters in the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Georgia Avenue. DDOT will convert parking meters from 1 hour to 2 hour parking 7 am-6:30 pm Monday-Saturday because it will help the customers and businesses in the area.

Currently, DDOT is preparing shop orders to install new signage and parking meters and to have parking meters programmed to reflect the new time changes. Moving forward, DDOT will evaluate all of the 1 hour parking along Georgia Avenue, as recommended Georgia Avenue Business Association.

600 B/O Princeton Will Be Part of Residential Parking Permit Program Effective April 16.

March 23, 2015

600 Princeton RPP
(New permit parking sign on the 600 b/o Princeton Place, NW)

If you live on or near the 600 block of Princeton Place, NW, you will have noticed that the signs for residential permit parking have begun to be installed. These north side of the street will be reserved for Zone 1 residents only (or those with visitor passes). During the initial installation, Zone 1 signs were also installed on the southern side of the block, but after alerting the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), I have confirmed that the southern side of the block will have the green and  white 2 hour parking signs allowing visitors to park on that side of the street without a visitors parking pass.

DDOT’s sign crew began the process of fabricating the green and white signs on Friday, March 20, and will install them on Princeton soon. Enforcement will begin on Monday April, 16, 2015. (DDOT notice here).


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