Posted by Will Stephens, Chair & 2B08 Commissioner / Cross-posted at www.willstephensanc.com
In a dense, mixed-use, urban neighborhood such as Dupont Circle, parking is an issue that is guaranteed to generate controversy — because it touches upon so many competing policies, interests, and judgments about value and fairness: the use of public space, local business development, environmental sustainability, multi-modal transportation options, smart growth, aging-in-place, and employment, just to name a few.
As you can imagine, we as ANC Commissioners get a lot of requests from neighbors — from nearly every residential block within the ANC — for preferred residential parking. We have also been asked from time to time to consider whether to participate in a visitor parking permit program. (For the time being, the ANC has rejected joining such a program, at least in its current iteration.) We have also investigated whether there are zones in the ANC that could be ripe for performance parking — where meter rates can rise during peak demand times, with the additional income dedicated to community amenities.
With regard to preferred residential parking in particular, we want to be responsive to the legitimate frustrations of residents and other stakeholders. However, if we ask the District to put this kind of parking in every block, we would likely cause havoc to an already over-taxed parking system. We might be simply moving problems around or even potentially exacerbating them. Therefore, we need to be able to be strategic in whatever we propose.
In addition, we need to be able to have sufficient information to consider other tweaks and changes to existing parking in certain areas — such as additional metered areas, piloting performance parking, re-purposing unused bus stops, or adding rush hour restrictions next to bottleneck intersections.
To that end, the ANC is currently undertaking a survey of all parking in the neighborhood. The idea is this: We first need to understand what are the current parking rules — i.e., where are existing loading zones, bus stops, valet staging, metered spots, resident-only parking, or rush hour restrictions, and at what times do the various uses apply. The Department of Transportation (DDOT) has quite a bit of this information. However, DDOT does not have all of the information, DDOT does not have it all together in a unified place, and DDOT’s information is not entirely accurate, as we have already learned by spot-checking a few key areas.
At the direction of the ANC, our public policy intern Daniel Warwick (a current student at GW) has been working to put as much of the existing DDOT information together as possible in an understandable format. He has also surveyed other jurisdictions, such as Seattle, to gather some best practices on how to present parking information for each street. On a parallel track, we are going to do on-the-ground “walk-throughs” in our Single Member Districts (SMDs) with DDOT representatives to double-check and supplement the information. Through these efforts, we hope to generate a comprehensive neighborhood parking map.
Once we have that survey complete, we will know what exists now — the status quo ante. At that point, the ANC will be able to competently request any changes, or to competently respond to requests for changes from stakeholders like residents and local businesses. Without this information, we will be stabbing in the dark and perhaps creating more problems than we are solving.
We also plan to hold at least one community meeting in the near future on parking issues, inviting representatives from DDOT to join us for an open discussion. We held such a meeting roughly two years ago, at the time we considered participating in the Visitor Parking Pass program.
In the meantime, if you have comments, questions, or ideas about parking matters, please contact your Commissioner and share them. If you would be willing to assist us in gathering information through “walk-throughs” of the streets, please contact Will Stephens (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Daniel Warwick (email@example.com). This is no small project, and we could use extra hands on deck. Thank you!