Peaceful Solutions to the Parking Wars

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The opening of large venues such as the Washington Convention Center and Verizon Center in downtown Washington, as well as a wave of new residential development, has increased the demand for on-street parking while diminishing the number of surface parking lots. The predictable result has been conflict ["Ticketing Near Churches to Begin; Residents' Protests Prompt Parking Crackdown in Logan Circle," Metro, March 17]. Yet a group representing churches, residents and advisory neighborhood commissioners in the Logan Circle area has found solutions that go beyond ticketing.

First, many D.C. streets are wide enough to allow angled parking on one if not both sides, which can increase parking space by 30 percent or more. In response to a request from the Logan Circle parking group, the District has moved to making angled parking available along a number of streets, adding about 70 spaces.

Second, weekend traffic is usually lighter than on weekdays, so lanes on major thoroughfares also can be converted for parking. In the Logan Circle area, Sunday parking on Rhode Island Avenue NW will add 80 parking spaces. Such additions could work on other major streets as well, such as New York, Massachusetts and Florida avenues.

Third, the city owns or has oversight of many garages near churches and other venues. A school parking garage in the Logan Circle area, for example, can handle 70 cars and soon may be leased by nearby churches on Sundays. The garage at the Reeves Center on U Street NW has not been open on Sundays, but it can and should be.

Further, the D.C. Circulator bus has expanded its route north, now going to O Street NW. Its route could be extended even farther north to Howard University if resources were allocated. Metro also is looking to extend the Yellow Line, which now stops at the Convention Center. Wherever feasible, expanding public transit will ease parking demand.

Other steps to increase on-street parking can be taken, too. For example, in Georgetown an effort is underway to allow residents to park in front of the entrance to their own driveways. In Baltimore, multi-space parking meters have increased parking space by 10 percent, because cars don't need the longer length required when one meter is allotted to each space.

Everyone feels the parking crush -- residents, churchgoers, visitors, service companies. Solutions are not easy, but ticketing is not the only way to address the issue.

-- Terry Lynch

is executive director

of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company