For D.C., ‘there will never be enough parking’

For D.C., ‘there will never be enough parking’

June 27, 2012

A car in the District gets a parking citation. Parking spots are one of the city’s most in-demand resources and the D.C. Council heard about a variety of parking complaints on June 27. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner file photo)

Liz Essley

Staff writer – transportation

The Washington Examiner


District residents drive around for hours looking for parking in their neighborhoods. Contractors working in those neighborhoods cope with stacks of parking tickets because they can’t find legal spots to park their trucks. D.C. natives go to movies in Maryland instead of downtown because the suburbs have more parking.

Such were the problems outlined for D.C. council members Wednesday at a hearing dealing with one of the city’s most in-demand resources: parking spaces.

"There will never be enough parking for everyone who wants it. So we have to use it more efficiently," Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, said.

Transportation experts advocated for a counter-intuitive approach to the problem. Instead of providing more parking, they said, take parking away to encourage people to take the bus, Metro or to walk.

Brookings Institution expert Christopher Leinberger told Wells and Councilmember Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, that District residents weren’t paying enough for parking. Residents pay $35 per year for a residential parking space, but the spaces are worth about $10,000 to $60,000 per year, so D.C. is offering unfair subsidies to car drivers, he said.

"A $10,000 parking space should cost $100 per month. That’s the market value. So that’s a massive subsidy," he said.

Others said D.C. needed to stop giving the impression that parking should be free. David Alpert, of Greater Greater Washington, said the District doesn’t give out free bus passes, and it shouldn’t provide free parking either.

But Wells hinted that politicians wouldn’t be hiking parking rates across the board any time soon, saying that after he introduced parking changes in his ward, a local pub hanged him in effigy in a T-shirt that read, "One term Tommy."

"You all are very smart folks," Wells told those who testified. "We up here have to get elected. We’re not free to do what we think is the right thing all the time. … The greatest temptation of a politician is to hand out free parking."

The meeting followed a public outcry earlier this year over a proposal to require disabled people to pay for parking at special red-top meters.


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