“Parking for $35 a year is a good deal, if you can find a parking space,” said Ellis, 79, who estimates that he drives twice a week. “But it’s going to be harder because more people are moving in.”
With city planners estimating that thousands of new residents will move to the waterfront and other areas of the District in coming years, parking battles will gradually heat up. And owners of low-use vehicles, like Ellis, are in city officials’ cross hairs.
“Everyone wants a free parking space in front of their door, 24-7. It just can’t be anymore,” Angelo Rao, the city’s new parking czar, told D.C. Council members recently.
The comments delivered by Rao underscore growth’s double-edged sword: Planners must balance the benefits with the drawbacks of development in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. Now, D.C. officials are considering increasing parking fees, reconfiguring parking rules and possibly denying some residents street-parking permits. They caution, however, that any changes would be implemented gradually.
“It’s the brave new future,” D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said at a“parking summit” she convened recently.
A glimpse of that future could come as early as Tuesday, when council members are poised to approve a sweeping measure that erodes the expectation of on-street parking in urban settings and recalibrates residents’ relationships with their cars. The legislation, already preliminarily agreed to, would allow the city to strike agreements with developers under which residential parking permits could be denied to tenants in some buildings still to be constructed. Potential dwellers would have to swear off residential parking as a condition of sale or lease, meaning they would have to forgo owning a car or pay for private parking to avoid a summons.
City Planning Director Harriet Tregoning said the change, which developers requested, would allow more housing to be built without community concerns that new residents would want street-parking privileges.
“Some people moving to the city and living in 350 square feet are not the people likeliest to have an automobile and maybe not see it as a hardship if they have other things are like [Capital] Bikeshare, Zipcar, a Metro subsidy,” Tregoning said.
But John B. Townsend II, manager of public affairs and government relations at AAA Mid-Atlantic, slammed the proposal as ”discriminatory” and “fundamentally flawed.”