ENERGY-SAVING may start at home, but not in the House. That's the message we glean from the $483,000 plan to turn the old Providence Hospital site three blocks from the Cannon Office Building into yet another parking lot for House employees.
Consider the timing. In just two weeks a Metro station is going to open on the House side of Capitol Hill and Metrorail service to Northern Virginia will start. By the end of the year, the trains will also be running to Silver Spring. This might enable more of the House's 11,000 employees to leave their cars at home. It might also be a good time for Congress to start cracking down on parking, especially by employees who drive in alone. But even preferential parking for car pools is apparently too disruptive a notion to advance in the House. As for freeing on-street parking for visitors and the neighborhood, or -- saints preserve us -- charging fees for parking in Hill lots, well, such ideas are just unthinkable, it seems.
So the House wants to pave another block, without even looking first to see how many more cars might be accommodated in existing lots. (The Senate made such a review this spring and has expanded its parking capacity without enlarging its lots.) Worse, the House wants to jam 400 cars onto a block in the midst of a residential neighborhood, near several schools, without even waiting until the Architect of the Capitol brings forth the long-awaited master plan for official Capitol Hill.
So much for orderly planning and consultation between Congress and the community. So much for fuel-saving and curbing air pollution and promoting mass transit and all those other goals that we thought were becoming national policy. As an example for the country, this may be a little one but it is a terrible one just the same. The House would do much better to spend $300,000 or whatever grading the old hospital property, cleaning out the weeds and making it available, not as a parking lot, but as a park.