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Government and People
Mayor’s Parking Taskforce Report
Government of the District of Columbia
Table of Contents
Section 1: INTRODUCTION
The District of Columbia, like many other metropolitan cities, has a complicated dynamic of managing limited curbside space to accommodate the ever increasing parking demand. Over the past 30 years, the government has built policy around specific parking issues, but has minimally addressed parking holistically. A multidisciplinary group made up of District agencies and citizens from various wards, neighborhood associations, and interests, collaborated to create the Mayor’s Parking Taskforce. This group was charged with identifying ways to mitigate parking shortages in the District and to balance the competing uses for a limited supply of on-street parking. Over the course of the last 12 months, this taskforce has reviewed existing District parking policy and legislation, as well as parking policies of various cities across the county, to develop recommendations to improving parking policy.
This report summarizes existing data on the District’s parking supply, demand, and the full range of issues that were identified by the Taskforce. This report is intended to be a framework for city-wide parking improvements. It provides a summary of the recommended changes to parking policies and procedures that evolved from months of Taskforce meetings and discussions. The following points highlight the recommendations:
Additionally, the parking taskforce came to a consensus around the need for flexible policies to reflect the parking needs of various areas in the District based on parking supply, demand, and land use; and that parking in the District needs to be more automated (using new technologies for parking meters, enforcement, and the dissemination of information), better tracked (through better information gathering and management), appropriately priced to reflect the true cost of parking, and encourage adequate turnover.
While the Parking Taskforce members consisted of individuals in varying agencies with a multiplicity of backgrounds, it is a best practice that long-term parking policy development and implementation are a part of broader transportation policy that discourages the use of vehicles, encourages transit, and promotes safety. Therefore, successful implementation of this report’s recommendations should progress through the District Department of Transportation. This agency is responsible for continued coordination with businesses and government organizations as well as civic engagement to advance the city-wide parking policy.
The Mayor’s Parking Taskforce is a multidisciplinary group made up of District agencies (Office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations, Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Works, District Department of Transportation) and citizens from various wards, neighborhood associations, and interests. There is also a steering committee comprised solely of District agencies and the Taskforce Chair, a private citizen. The Community Taskforce members are listed on page 4.
The Taskforce was initially charged with identifying ways to mitigate parking shortages in the District and to balance the competing uses for a limited supply of on-street parking. Over the course of the last 12 months, the Taskforce held numerous meetings and extensive e-mail discussions. These discussions highlighted the complexities of parking issues, the different stakeholders and their concerns, and the range of social, economic, equity, lifestyle, and quality of life aspects associated with parking.
The Taskforce split itself into three working subcommittees, one each on Residential Parking, Commercial Parking and Pricing. The committees worked hard to identify issues, work towards consensus positions and develop recommendations for needed changes in parking policies and procedures in the District. Their efforts were consolidated into the final work of the combined group.
This report was prepared on behalf of the Parking Taskforce and seeks to summarize existing data on the District’s parking supply, demand, and the full range of issues that were identified by the Taskforce. It is intended to be a framework for city-wide parking improvements. The report also provides a summary of the recommended changes to parking policies and procedures that evolved from months of Taskforce meetings and discussions.
The following community members contributed to the Mayor's Parking Taskforce Report. They represent a variety of wards and District organizations including neighborhood associations, housing organizations, transportation organizations, business improvement districts, religious associations, and Neighborhood Advisory Commissions.
Section 2: EXISTING CONDITIONS
The existing environment for parking in the District comprises a supply of on-street and off-street parking of various types and across the District, demand for parking from a wide range of users, an existing regulatory environment, and a range of stakeholders that includes parking users, businesses and services that are served by parking, and government agencies.
There are approximately 400,000 parking spaces in the District of Columbia. The majority of these parking spaces, 260,000, are on-street parallel-parking type spaces. About 6 percent of the on-street total, or 16,000 spaces, have parking meters. Another 140,000 parking spaces are located off-street in parking lots and garages. The majority of the off-street spaces are located in parking garages in the Central Business District. A limited number of public off-street parking spaces are located at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets, NW), at 301 C Street, and at some of the parks and recreation centers in the District.
As indicated above, most of the off-street parking is located in the Central Business District. On-street parking is located throughout the District as such parking is located along the vast majority of roads. Exhibit 1 shows the estimated on-street parking throughout the District. The map in Exhibit 1, as well as several of the other maps that follow, use transportation analysis zone (TAZs) as the geographic basis for tabulation. TAZs were developed for regional transportation demand forecasting (they are an integral component of the region’s computerized transportation model which was developed and is maintained by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, MWCOG). When the model was developed, there was an initial correspondence between the District’s 319 TAZs and Census boundaries. MWCOG tabulates existing and projected demographic data such as population and employment by TAZ, so the use of TAZs allows for comparison between various forms of data and this demographic data.
Exhibit 1 shows the total number of parking spaces by TAZ and gives an idea of the generalized distribution of off-street parking spaces. It is important to note in reviewing this map, however, that the size of the TAZ itself is reflected in the number of parking spaces (i.e., larger TAZs will have more parking spaces simply due to their size). Appendix A includes a table showing the following information by TAZ: land area, population, employment, estimated number of on-street parking spaces, estimated number of registered motor vehicles, and total number of non-commercial registered vehicles.
The “consumers” for parking spaces are cars – cars that are used by District residents, visitors, businesses, and commuters to get to work, home, stores, restaurants, theaters, and churches; and to do work (visit clients, make deliveries, etc.). On a District-wide level, demand can be estimated by the total number of vehicles registered in the District and by the number of vehicles that come into the District on any given day. There are 215,000 registered motor vehicles in the District, of which 197,000 are non-commercial vehicles registered for personal use. Approximately 200,000 vehicles enter the District during the morning peak (the number of people that enter is about twice that).
Compared to both the country and other major cities, the District has a high percentage of households without a car. According to 2000 Census data, 91,000 (37 percent) of the 249,000 households in the District do not own a car. Another 108,300 (43 percent) have only one car. Most of the remaining 49,300 households have two cars (16 percent), while only 4 percent have 3 or more cars. The average number of motor vehicles per household in the District is 0.89, almost half of the national average of 1.69.
Since people want to park within walking distance of their destinations, most issues with respect to parking demand relate to localized conditions. The number of registered vehicles by TAZ is shown in Exhibit 2. Other measures, such as the number of jobs in a TAZ, are included in the table in Appendix A.
Localized parking studies assess the demand for parking using a number of methods, including occupancy surveys and the use of parking generation equations with information about local land uses. Such levels of detail are not possible, however, on a District-wide basis. A generalized idea of the relationship between supply and demand can be illustrated using the ratio of registered vehicles to estimates of on-street parking. This relationship by TAZ is shown in Exhibit 3, with the darker colors showing higher demand as compared to supply.
Many streets in the District are part of the residential parking permit (RPP) program, which was established by City Council in 1974. At that time, the program’s design was focused on prohibiting commuter day-time parking in residential neighborhoods. In each of these RPP areas, the maximum time limit for parking by vehicles without permits is two hours. Participation in the program is initiated by a petition representing adults from a majority of households in a particular block. The standard hours for the RPP restrictions are 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Residents may petition for extended hours. Visitor permits, valid for 15-days and obtained from local police district headquarters, allow guests to park on RPP blocks. Regulations limit the only other exceptions to RPP restrictions to health care workers medically required for an RPP resident or commercial vehicles involved in construction, reconstruction, maintenance or report at an address on a RPP street.
The current block-by-block approach in the RPP program was cited by the Taskforce as one of the major flaws in the current system. Under the current system, RPP areas are not necessarily contiguous or consistent due to the peculiarities of the ballot process. If one lives in the area with the generally restrictive parking conditions, but does not live on an RPP block, one cannot get a parking sticker and is effectively treated in the same way as a visitor or commuter.
Parking is incorporated into several areas of the District of Columbia Official Code. The declaration of necessity for regulating parking in the District is incorporated in '50-2601.
The RPP program is regulated by '50-2511, which establishes parking districts. Other areas of the DC Code related to parking include '50-2603: Power of Mayor to acquire property, construct and maintain parking facilities, install parking meters; and '50-2605: Establishment of parking facilities. The regulation of parking is included in Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.
Promulgation of parking regulations is managed by the Curbside Management Division of the Traffic Services Administration within the Department of Transportation. Enforcement of parking regulations is managed by the Parking Services Administration within the Department of Public Works. Administration of parking permits is performed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Currently, parking standards as they relate to “double parking” enforcement on Sundays is deliberately unobserved. This accommodation has been made for religious services, however, it adversely affects residents who reside near religious establishments. The government’s stance has traditionally been to encourage church members to build a relationship with the community and work toward possible solutions.
Enforcement is also restricted via legislation. Specifically, parking meter limitations may not be enforced on Saturdays, and restrictions on parking distances to corners, entrances and loading zones in RPP areas are subject to enforcement moratoria after 10:00 p.m.
The District is assessing the viability and desirability of new parking meter technologies in Georgetown as part of the Georgetown Project. This pilot project tested two new types of multi-space meters between November of 2002 and August of 2003. There was a great deal of interest and support for the multi-space meters with opinions evenly split between the two types that were tested. These meters operate in commercial areas and extend 50 feet into residential areas.
The second pilot project area is in the vicinity of the new Convention Center. Meters and signs are being replaced on 7th, 9th, and Mount Vernon Streets. Major areas of concern in this area included church parking and the need to change the RPP petition process (there are 40 churches in the area of the Convention Center).
Section 3: PARKING ISSUES
Over the course of months of Taskforce meetings, a wide range of parking issues were identified and discussed. These issues are discussed in this section.
Parking affects a wide range of people, from those who desire parking to those who are affected by it. Major demand for parking comes from residents of the District along with those who visit and/or work in residents. These include those who own or rent dwelling units, home health-care or child-care workers, students, visitors, and those with residency and/or homes in multiple jurisdictions. Residents are not only stakeholders in terms of demand for parking, but also bear the brunt of the impacts of parking on quality of life and safety. They are also the source of visitors, whether personal or professional, to their homes.
As the seat of the federal government, stakeholders for parking in the District include federal workers, legislators and their staffs, and members of the military. Businesses make use of parking for employees, patrons, clients, vendors, and deliveries. Delivery services require both parking at distribution centers as well as short-term loading areas.
Visitor and tourist institutions require parking at different times of day, on weekends, and sometimes long-term parking (such as at Union Station). Similarly, religious institutions have parking needs on weekends and in the evenings, and often have needs to accommodate elderly patrons. Schools, which are located in many of the residential areas of the District, have parking needs for teachers and administrators, students, and have drop-off and pick-up requirements. Other stakeholders include public agencies (for parking requirements of the general public and employees, and for the role many of them play in regulating parking). As the center of the region’s employment, commuters present a major source of parking demand in the District.
Each of the stakeholders described in the previous section present various demands for parking. While almost all demand has the same general geographic component (everyone wants to park as near as possible to their ultimate destinations), the temporal component of demand varies widely. The temporal component covers both when parking is desired and the length of time required for such parking. Exhibit 4 summarizes some of the parking requirements of various users.
Perceptions of key issues related to the supply of parking vary by stakeholder groups (and often within such groups). Some of the supply issues that are important in parking discussions include:
Each of these supply issues are discussed within the context of developing recommendations and are described within the descriptions of these recommendations.
3.4 Variability of Parking Issues By Geographic Area
As the maps and tables above show, and as Taskforce discussions highlighted, the relationship between supply, demand, and the various types of supply and demand (i.e. by time of day, length of time for parking, etc.) varies widely across the various neighborhoods and commercial areas of the District. This variation covers residential areas where supply exceeds demand and where parking is a relatively minor issue to, at the other end of the spectrum, areas where demand far exceeds supply and where there is fierce competition between commercial and residential parking demands. As will be seen from the recommendations in Section 4, one of the key findings of the Taskforce is that current parking policies provide neither the necessary tools nor the flexibility needed to address the range of parking issues in the District.
Parking is a key part of the transportation system, and policies related to overall transportation in the District and the Washington region are important to consider when discussing parking. Clearly, transportation plays an important role in quality of life, both in terms of supporting mobility and in terms of reducing the impacts associated with the provision of such mobility (noise, air quality, congestion, safety). As a largely built environment, the transportation rights of way in the District are generally fixed, and transportation, including parking, needs to be accommodated within these fixed rights-ofway. Automotive travel, while providing travel that usually maximizes personal efficiency (you can travel when you want, where you want), is also extremely inefficient in terms of the use of public space and resources. Travel lanes for cars and parking take up large amounts of valuable space. Cars create noise and air pollution, and create congestion and safety problems. Reducing the amount of this inefficient means of travel is good transportation policy for the District, and parking policies should support this larger transportation policy.
Transportation also supports economic activity, and parking policies also need to take such activity into consideration. Parking at certain types of commercial establishments in certain areas are key to their success. Restaurants, theaters, and clubs have operating hours that are not conducive to travel by public transportation (such service is either not available or headways become so infrequent as to effectively discourage such travel). Other types of retail almost require parking as patrons need cars to carry heavy and large goods home.
As the center of the Washington region and the seat of the federal government, transportation policies and, therefore, parking policies, need to account for both regional and federal issues. Commuter travel (both into the District and reverse commuting out to the suburbs) affects parking demands. Regional cooperation in implementing additional commuter parking at suburban Metro stations affects District parking concerns. Many of the federal issues have already been described above, including security concerns at federal buildings, as well as accommodating federal workers.
Parking Taskforce discussions highlighted a number of issues that were then taken into consideration when developing recommendations for improvements to the District’s parking policies and procedures. These are discussed in detail in the next section describing the recommendations, but are briefly summarized here.
Parking valuation and pricing: Incorporating increased market mechanisms into parking policies in the District was a key issue in Taskforce discussions and was the charge of one of the three subcommittees set up by the Taskforce. These market mechanisms include increasing existing fees so that pricing better reflects the true cost of providing parking as well as providing price signals to consumers to shift their parking demands by location, time of day, length of time, or to shift travel modes altogether.
Prioritization of uses: Parking policies should provide explicit priority in residential parking areas to District residents.
Regulation and enforcement: Regulation should be both appropriate and as simplified as possible.
Signage and information: Compared to many cities, the District does not provide signage to parking locations, existing signage is often difficult to understand, and informational brochures on parking (locations, policies, and alternatives to parking) are limited. Increasing information can greatly increase the efficiency of existing parking and reduce motorist confusion.
Technology and engineering considerations: New technologies to increase the efficiency and ease of use of parking is available and being tested in the District. The full range of technologies, including ways to better disseminate information, need to be constantly considered and applied, as appropriate, to parking in the District. In addition, the assessment of recommended changes to parking in the District needs to consider engineering requirements such as impacts on travel lane configurations, bus operations, geometric requirements of delivery vehicles, and more.
Section 4: RECOMMENDATIONS
This section incorporates the recommendations for changes to parking policies and procedures as developed by the Taskforce. Many of the recommendations for changes suggested in the meetings were readily accepted by the majority of members of the Taskforce. Many other recommendations, however, were accepted as good ideas that some believed had significant feasibility or implementation concerns. These other recommendations resulted in suggestions that the concepts could be implemented over a longer timeframe and/or that they be tested as part of pilot projects to assess their viability and effectiveness, and potential impact in terms of unintended consequences.
4.1. Fundamental Goals for Parking Policy in the District
The Taskforce identified four basic goals related to parking policy in the District. These are described below.
The priority user for parking in residential areas in the District is neighborhood residents. While the concept of priority in this goal is relatively straight forward, the definition of resident and details of allocating the opportunity to park to residents was the subject of much discussion. Discussions covered such topics as how many permits does a household get, does having an off-street space (single family house with garage or apartment building with garage) affect one’s ability to get a parking permit, is owning a car that is registered in the District an appropriate prerequisite for getting a parking permit, is the opportunity to park on the street in residential areas related to being a property owner and/or paying property taxes (retail, places of worship, etc.), and does this extend to allowing residents to get permits for household employees (child-care, contractors, etc.), is a renting resident less entitled to public parking access than an owning resident, etc.
Customers of commercial establishments should have priority in commercial area on-street parking, and turnover rates should be set and enforced to best facilitate commerce. Some of the specifics associated with this goal relate to defining commercial areas and overflow into residential areas, addressing the parking requirements of commercial establishment employees who need to park for longer time periods, parking areas that are used by valet parking companies, and sufficient loading zones.
Introduce market (or demand/performance based) pricing as a component of the District’s parking policies. Providing parking is extremely expensive, with costs that include the actual construction and maintenance of spaces, opportunity costs associated with other uses that the space could be used for (transit-ways, public space amenities, landscaping, etc.), enforcement costs, implicit support for inefficient automotive travel, and more. Currently, much of the parking in the District is free or close to it for many users. District residents pay to cover most of these costs in taxes that are paid whether or not the resident uses public, on-street parking or not. Because the differential cost is very little to a resident whether he or she uses parking or not, this parking is close to being essentially free. Visitors and commuters who use unmetered on-street parking pay nothing. This goal seeks to ensure that parking is market priced for all users.
One other key aspect of introducing pricing into parking policies is that the current system does not allow for market forces to play a role in affecting demand. Basic economics tells us that the price of parking is higher in areas where parking demand outstrips supply and lower in areas where there is more supply than demand. Where consumers pay these costs, market forces provide a mechanism for better distributing demand by geography, time of day, and even by mode (by providing consumers with price signals to shift to transit, car-share, etc.).
Parking policies need to ensure the safety of pedestrians, motorists, and parking enforcement personnel. There are safety aspects related to parking design, availability of parking, street lighting, and parking enforcement policies. Changes to parking policies need to take safety into consideration and should seek to maximize the safety of District residents, visitors, pedestrians, bicyclists and government personnel.
The following goal relates to improved management of the overall parking system in the District:
Incorporate mechanisms into parking procedures in the District that will allow for improved tracking of localized parking demand. This will improve the ability of the District government to ascertain the effects of various programs and to identify areas where alternative approaches to managing parking should be tested. Specifics on how this policy goal would be applied are included in the description of specific recommendations.
As part of discussions, the Taskforce identified a number of general considerations that they believed should be taken into account in the final recommendations. Because parking concerns varied widely by area and by neighborhood, the Taskforce indicated that parking policies should allow for rules to have sufficient flexibility to address the specifics of a neighborhood’s requirements, yet be standardized and applied systematically. Such flexibility acknowledges that some neighborhoods have parking supply in excess of demand, others have demand problems only at particular times (for example, Sunday mornings at church time), while others face issues at night from restaurant and nightclub parking demands.
Related to flexibility is the ability to test various parking programs as pilots in various areas and to then apply the lessons learned from such pilots to other similar parts of the District. Implicit in the pilot program is the ability to identify suitable test areas (and, if necessary, comparable areas against which to test the effectiveness of the pilot program), and developing a program that allows for the benefits and impacts to be readily measured.
Ease of use, understanding, and simplicity were also cited as major considerations in developing recommendations. Measures that support these considerations include: reducing the number of violation fine categories, simplifying parking signage, and allowing users to tap into the Internet to apply for and get parking permits or visitor passes.
The recommendations for changes to parking in the District are described in the following two sections. The first describes, hypothetically, the parking situation at a time when the full package of recommendations are completely implemented (assumed here to be 2007), while the second describes specific recommendations as part of a timeline for implementation. The broad description of the full package can be thought of as the “vision” and is included first to provide the reader with an understanding of where the specific recommendations that will need to be implemented over time are intended to lead.
For organizational purposes, much of the following discussion divides recommendations into two categories: 1) residential parking, and 2) commercial parking. Market pricing recommendations are incorporated into the discussions of the residential and commercial areas as appropriate.
4.3. Broad Description of Full Recommendation Package in the Year 2007 Residential Parking
Reflecting the fact that ward boundaries proved too large to effectively manage parking, the District has been divided into 39 parking zones based on neighborhood groups. All parking permits provide permit-holders with the right to park in a particular zone. Residential parking permits are available to all who are legal residents of the District and either have a motor vehicle registered in the District or meet reciprocity criteria. For those with motor vehicles registered in the District, a zone parking permit can be obtained at the time of vehicle registration. Residents may also purchase books of visitor parking passes, which allow for one day of parking for $5. These visitor passes are used for a wide range of uses including child-care, home-health care, and contractors, and can be purchased over the Internet, at libraries, police stations, and parking kiosks. In addition, visitors may park in certain residential areas using the new mid-block meter technology, which allows flexibility in allowed parking time periods.
Within each parking zone, all on-street parking has been classified into one of four types. The four types have been developed in response to an identified need for additional parking management tools, as well the need for increased flexibility to address the variety of parking situations in the District. Parking regulations (such as time limits for parking by non-residents and enforcement hours) were developed to better manage parking within each of these area types. The four area types are:
[For the purposes of the analysis, supply is measured as the number of on-street parking spaces, while demand is determined by the number of registered vehicles. While this is a less than perfect methodology, the undercounting of off-street spaces was felt to be off-set by the under-registration of out-of-state vehicles belonging to residents.]
Specifics on the regulations within each of these area types are included in the Section 4.4.
All commercial parking areas have parking meters, with the majority being served by multi-space meters. Parking meter fees have been increased to match the market rates that similarly sized cities charge and to reflect the demand for short-term on-street parking. Increased enforcement has resulted in increased parking space turnover. The new parking policies, along with increased enforcement, has resulted in increased use of transit by employees as well as an increase in privately constructed and maintained offstreet parking to accommodate these employees. The result has been a slight increase in the overall supply of parking, but this increase has been mitigated by increased travel by non-automotive modes. A tightening of residential parking requirements and enforcement in high-demand mixed residential/commercial parking areas has increased the number of private parking providers that remain open during evenings and on weekends. The District government has worked closely with these private parking providers to encourage better usage of these private facilities. Private parking providers have gained additional incentives to remain open through valet parking regulations that require an off-street parking contract for permitting (thus ending the practice reported by some residents of valet parking operators using residential streets to park customer vehicles).
Areas adjacent to Metro stations are treated as commercial areas with parking only at meters. In certain locations, a limited number of meters allow for long-term parking (8+ hours). Meters in certain transition areas between residential and commercial areas allow residents to park without paying the meter (assuming they have an appropriate and valid residential parking permit). This type of parking is severely restricted, however, to limit the use of such parking by motorists who drive to a commercial area from within the same residential area. In general, commercial parking near Metro stations does not allow for “free” parking by those with residential parking passes.
In addition to an increase in meter fees, meter zones have been updated and simplified. The number of rate categories has been reduced, and meters in most areas are active in the evening and on weekends. The parking fine schedule has been updated and simplified. The parking fines in general have also increased to provide increased disincentives to disobeying parking regulations. Increased enforcement and higher fines have resulted in substantial decreases in parking infractions.
Enforcement levels have increased dramatically, and funds from the sale of residential permits, parking meters, and parking tickets are first used to cover the administrative and enforcement costs of the program with the remainder dedicated to neighborhood-based transportation solutions. Compensation packages for enforcement personnel have been increased to attract additional staff and staffing levels have increased dramatically. The safety of enforcement staff has been increased through communications technology and coordination of late-night enforcement activities with the Metropolitan Police Department. Technologies have increased so that both residential permits and visitor passes are bar-coded and can be scanned quickly by enforcement staff.
Additional off-street parking has been made available through tax incentives to private parking operators to convert long-term daily parking into shorter-term parking for commercial and retail uses. This tax incentive, which guarantees that the income from the shorter-term parking will match that earned from the longer-term parking, has dramatically increased the availability of private parking for retail uses. While this has decreased the supply of daily commuter parking, shorter-term parking tends to be a more efficient use of parking facilities, and commuter travel is more conducive to being made via transit.
Changes in transportation and land use policies that emphasize the importance of the District’s alleys for deliveries and services have resulted in closer scrutiny of land development proposals that propose closure and/or modification of alleys. The preservation of these alleys has been made a priority.
Other Uses for Curb Space
The amount of curb space dedicated to loading zones in many commercial areas has been increased following studies of parking demand, loading demand, and available curb space. Loading zones are metered to encourage turnover, which also enhances delivery time and reduces related costs.
Pilot Programs and Studies
A review of parking requirements for new construction by the Office of Planning considered both increasing the minimum amount of parking required for new construction (which would increase the overall supply of parking and could reduce pressures on the limited supply of on-street parking) as well as instituting maximums on the amount of parking that would be required (to discourage automobile ownership). Regulations were changed to require that the cost of parking be “unbundled” from the cost of housing for affordable housing construction. This “unbundling” gives homeowners the opportunity to substantially reduce the cost of their housing unit if they choose to not have a car and/or a parking space.
A wide range of stakeholder groups make use of parking in the District. Exhibit 5 summarizes some of the effects that the proposed changes would have on each group. One particular group of concern to many Taskforce members was attendees at religious institutions. Expansion of parking restrictions and increased enforcement of the restrictions could present a hardship to this group, many of which are elderly and have limited options for transportation. Because religious institutions are spread throughout the District and located in neighborhoods, commercial areas, and institutional settings, parking issues with respect to the religious institutions and their surrounding areas vary. Particular sensitivity to the needs of this group within the context of changes to the District’s parking regulations and policies is recommended.
The recommendation specifics described below reflect to the extent possible the discussions and consensus of the Parking Taskforce. At a meeting to review the preliminary version of this report, several key consensus positions emerged as critical with respect to making any changes to District parking policies and regulations. These positions were:
Several of the recommendations are also fully or partially necessary because they are the first steps towards implementing the Taskforce’s consensus positions. An example of this type of recommendation is re-defining RPP parking zones from ward-based to neighborhood-based. To a large extent, this change is needed to better track and manage parking – a necessary first step to achieve many of the consensus positions of the Taskforce.
The specific recommendations for changes to the District’s parking policies and procedures are described below. The recommendations are divided into short-term (within the next 2 years) and mid- to long-term recommendations (3 to 4 years).
4.4.1 Short-Term Recommendations
Define and implement new parking zone designations: The current ward-based residential parking program (RPP) boundaries are far too large for effective management of parking in the District. Neighborhood-based boundaries are recommended. The mapping below makes use of the strategic neighborhood areas that were developed by the District Office of Planning. Use of these boundaries is recommended as a starting point. Boundary changes could be initiated either by petition or by administrative rulemaking based on criteria to be established. Exhibit 6 shows the neighborhoods included in each parking area, while Exhibit 7 depicts these areas graphically.
With these parking zones, RPP would no longer be implemented on a block-by-block basis, but by parking zone. Everyone in an RPP zone would be eligible to obtain a parking sticker for that zone, which could be obtained at the same time as the vehicle is registered.
Residential Parking Areas
Develop inventory of on-street and off-street parking for use in parking management: Using the District’s Street Inventory System as its database platform, the District would develop an up-to-date inventory of on-street parking. This database would assist in improved parking management throughout the District. Additionally, an inventory of off-street parking options will serve as a parking guide for visitors, consumers, and commuters who require long-term parking options.
Designate on-street parking into four types: All on-street parking spaces would be allocated based on adjacent land use and supply/demand into one of four parking area types based on the criteria in Exhibit 8.
Adjust RPP program regulations and enforcement: There was substantial discussion by the Taskforce with respect to making changes to existing RPP regulations. Many members of the Taskforce believed that the current two-hour limits for non-residents in RPP areas are insufficient for current needs such as visiting, eating a meal, shopping, etc. There was some discussion of extending the limit to four hours, but a consensus emerged to extend the limit to three hours for certain parking area types. In addition, there was general agreement that the hours of the RPP program are insufficient in terms of meeting the goal of ensuring that residents have parking when they most need it. In fact, several recommendations to flip RPP enforcement from the existing daytime hours of 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to night-time hours were considered. Many felt that enforcement of RPP was needed more at night than during the day. Others felt the new zones should be in effect at all times: 24-hours, seven-days-per-week.
There was a consensus with respect to the need to have different regulations and hours of enforcement depending on parking area type. The Taskforce believed that a single set of RPP regulations for all areas of the District would be both ineffective and unworkable.
Suggested RPP program changes and hours of enforcement for each parking area type are shown in Exhibit 9.
Increase overall enforcement: Increased enforcement, through the addition of more enforcement personnel, was cited by the Taskforce as a crucial change to current practices. Increased pay levels and improved security for enforcement personnel are needed to attract more applicants for these positions.
Dedicate parking permit fees, meter fees, and fines to first cover parking enforcement and administration: This recommendation is tied to the previous one as a means to ensure that parking enforcement and administration is fully funded. With this recommendation, funds coming in from various fees and fines related to parking would first be dedicated to cover the costs of the enforcement and administration program. Remaining funds would then be dedicated to other neighborhood-based transportation solutions.
Simplify the existing meter rates: Taskforce members believe that the current four meter zones (low, normal, high, and premium) are needlessly confusing and that the system could be improved by simplifying the meter zones into two – low or high. The central business district zone should also be expanded to better reflect existing land uses.
Increase meter fees: The Taskforce recommendation is to encourage the use of offstreet parking and mass transit by aligning the District’s meter rates with rates of comparable cities. The current average meter rate in the District of $0.69 per hour is insufficient to encourage parking turnover and efficient use of existing metered spaces. This rate is among the lowest hourly meter rates in the country. These meter rates do not reflect the value of the service the DC government is providing and can have unintended consequences. For example, off-street parking does not effectively compete in the short-term parking market because of the non-competitive pricing of on-street metered pricing. In addition, the low pricing of the District’s meters provides perverse incentive for motorists to circle around congested urban blocks in search of inexpensive metered parking as opposed to taking advantage of available off-street parking options.
Expand the times and days for meter parking in commercial areas (Type 4): The District currently limits meter operations, in most locations, to weekdays. A recent study conducted by the District Department of Transportation Curbside Management Division shows that 70 percent of vehicles parked in the Central Business District were parked all day resulting in a Saturday parking meter turnover rate of less than 10 percent for a majority of the day. Low metered space turnover stifles the ability of new consumers to locate available short-term parking. It may also force motorists to choose shopping and entertainment in neighboring jurisdictions with more accommodating parking. Reinstituting weekend meter operations could free much-needed, short-term parking and generate additional revenue. In addition, stimulating additional demand for long-term parking could encourage more off-street parking locations to open on weekends.
Simplify and increase parking fines: The existing parking fines are too low to provide a sufficient deterrent to parking infractions. The Taskforce recommendation is to increase and simplify the fines as follows:
Remove the current parking exceptions: The District currently has bans on enforcing parking meters on Saturdays, enforcing space limits in certain areas within RPP at night, as well as an informal lack of enforcement on double-parking on Sundays. The Taskforce recommends that these exceptions be removed and restrictions or allowances be made specific, rather than via enforcement moratoria.
Change the taxing and enforcement structure for private lots to ensure that taxes are collected on monthly contracts: Currently, parking in private lots is taxed only for those transactions that are paid on a daily basis. Monthly contracts for parking paid for by building management or business tenants are not taxed. The system should be revised to ensure that such parking is taxed at the same rate as daily parking.
Institute incentives for private parking lot owners to convert daily parking to shortterm parking: In order to increase the supply of short-term parking for uses such as shopping, dining, entertainment, and visiting office buildings, the District should work with private parking lot owners to convert a portion of the parking that is used by commuters for all-day parking into 2-4 hour parking. This District would provide tax incentives that guarantee that the income parking lot owners gain from such short-term parking would match that currently being gained from the all-day parking. Because the District is essentially a built environment, opportunities for new municipal parking structures are limited – this program would result in the creation of the equivalent of such parking.
Refine reciprocity criteria: Currently “reciprocity” stickers allowing access to RPP parking permits are available to non-DC residents who remain in the District 180 days or less and pay for a reciprocity permit, or who are appointed by or serve at the pleasure of the President, are members of Congress or their personal staffs, are members of the armed forces or are diplomats or students. The Task Force discussed the validity of extending such permits to DC residents whose vehicles, for one reason or another, cannot be registered locally (e.g. company car provided as a job benefit, etc.). It is important to note that the term reciprocity is a misnomer, as no reciprocal privileges are provided by the non-resident’s jurisdiction.
4.4.2. Mid- to Long-Term Recommendations
Change parking requirements for new construction: Options for making changes to the District’s current parking requirements for new construction were discussed by the Taskforce. Increasing the minimum requirements would increase the parking supply, but would encourage more automobiles in the District. Instituting maximum parking requirements (and, by default, allowing for the possibility that no parking would be built at all) could result in increasing pressure on the already limited supply of on-street parking with most of the impacts being felt by existing residents of the surrounding area. The Taskforce consensus was that the Office of Planning should study the issue and consider requiring developers of affordable housing to “unbundle” the cost of parking from the cost of housing units. This would give homeowners the option of substantially reducing the cost of their housing if they choose not to have a parking space.
Increase the cost of parking to users: Most of the cost of parking in the District is borne by all who pay taxes in the District, whether they own a car or not. In addition, the nominal cost of most parking is very low, with costs limited to administrative fees for RPP permits. Commercial on-street parking is priced at levels well below most similarly sized cities. As with many commodities that are not explicitly priced, there is no price signal to users and demand in many areas substantially exceeds supply. The Taskforce considered a wide range of pricing approaches to parking, some of which are included in the recommendations above. While many of the proposed pricing approaches did not gain consensus, in areas where demand and supply are severely out of step, pricing and/or other methods to allocate a limited number of parking permits are likely to be needed in the future. Some of the approaches suggested by Taskforce members are summarized below. These are suggested for consideration as pilot projects in areas with high parking demand.
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