Parking concerns weighed in D.C.

A D.C. Council committee met for more than three hours Wednesday to solicit input on ways to free up more parking space for residents and visitors while encouraging more of them to opt for public transportation.

Convened by Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the hearing weighed concerns from activists, academics and contractors about the availability of parking in a city that has been adding about 1,000 new residents each month.

Participants floated proposals to increase residential parking permit fees, break up residential parking zones into smaller areas, and expand so-called “performance parking” to additional neighborhoods.

In the coming months, the council’s Committee on Public Works, the Environment and Transportation plans to create working groups to further study various parking proposals. The effort could run concurrently to one underway by the D.C. Department of Transportation, which is preparing for its own parking summit this fall.

During the hearing, the most immediate concern was how to address concerns from some residents and contractors that construction and repair crews can’t find accessible parking to do work in areas with restricted residential parking.

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) has proposed allowing the District to issue “daytime parking permits” to contractors for a $500 annual fee. But Terry Bellamy, the director of DDOT, requested that the council hold off on legislation until his agency completes a review of city parking policies.

Wells and Cheh, the chairwoman of the committee, said they are willing to work with Bellamy but may consider temporary legislation until DDOT’s review is completed. Eric J. Jones, of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington, said a growing number of contractors are refusing to work in the District because they are being hit with parking tickets each week worth hundreds of dollars.

There are eight residential parking areas in the city, one for each ward. Residents must pay $35 annually for a residential parking permit.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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