“That is the sign of the future, that discourages car ownership,” said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1).
The most immediate changes are occurring in Graham’s congested ward, where the D.C. Department of Transportation is essentially eliminating half of the visitor parking spaces on weekdays in neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan and parts of the U Street corridor.
Under the regulations being implemented over the next month, one side of the street in 550 blocks of Ward 1 will be reserved for Ward 1 residents with valid parking permits from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Nonresidents will have to park on the non-reserved side of each block, where two-hour time limits will be enforced. And in some Ward 1 neighborhoods, DDOT is considering community requests to extend the restrictions through the weekend.
Graham said the restrictions, authorized by the council two years ago but just now being implemented, are designed to make sure there is sufficient on-street parking for residents in a rapidly developing part of the city.
“People are not able to park in Ward 1 now, so what we are doing is striking a balance in favor of those who are residents with stickers who paid for them,” said Graham, noting that similar restrictions are in effect in parts of Capitol Hill.
Although finding on-street parking in the District has challenged drivers for decades, the changes in Ward 1 underscore efforts by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council members to manage parking.
In the 15 months after the 2010 Census was completed, the District gained an estimated 15,000 residents. Although planners say many new residents are choosing to live car-free, new development has put a strain on the supply of parking spaces.
“There are only so many parking spaces on streets, and eventually there is going to be a time when the numbers don’t add up anymore or demand way overexceeds supply and we have a problem,” said Angelo Rao, manager of the District’s parking and streetlight program.
Rao said the new revisions, which will affect as many as 20 parking spaces per city block, are driven both by residents’ concerns about a lack of on-street parking and a broader city policy to encourage less vehicle traffic. Some of the changes are starting to cut into the stock of 18,000 metered parking spaces.
Last month, DDOT completed the L Street bicycle lane, reserving a dedicated eastbound lane for bicyclists between New Hampshire Avenue and 12th Street.