Park somewhere else, why don’t cha?

So DC has a parking problem. That isn’t news to anyone who lives here. And now Mayor Williams says he’s gonna help alleviate the parking woes by capping the number of cars allotted per household at three and raising residential parking permit fees for one permit from $15 to $25. A permit for a second car would cost $50 and the third would be $100.

Now we’re hearing all the usual bitching, most saying that the parking problem isn’t local DC residents, but out-of-area cars on the streets at night – permanent residents not registering in DC, temporary District visitors just in for the weekend, and evening commuters (bar/restaruant staff) . While that is somewhat true, you have to change local DC resident’s actions as much as those driving in.

How to do that? By getting real. Charging $25 for a parking permit is stupid cheap. If you want to effect change, you have to make it hurt to continue the current activity and feel good by changing the activity. I say charge $100 per year for an on-street permit or get a $100 tax credit if you do not have an on-street parking permit but have a DC driver’s license and $50 if you have both a license and a car, but no on-street registration. Then graduate the second and third permit prices higher – say $250 and $500. Last but not least, make most residential streets permit zoned 100% of the time.

This would have two effects:
1) People going car free DC would be rewarded the most. People with cars, but with off-street parking would be rewarded slightly. Those with on-street parking, using the most limited/expensive to the city resource would pay the most. People would change their habits accordingly.

2) People driving in on nights and weekends, if they live here or not, would be punished if they didn’t use a parking garage and tried use the limited street parking. As one who had a Florida-registered car in DC for three years before giving it to Mom the day I lost my off-street parking, I can attest to how fast unregistered cars belonging to residents would be registered or disappear. For those that come in from other areas (in the District or outside) who don’t like to pay for parking, two words: Metro, Taxi

Now if we only had a Mayor and Council members with the balls to try that…

4 Comments so far

  1. jen m. (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 10:10 am

    i’m not someone who normally defends the merits of driving, but if you live outside dc it’s tough to go out for an evening in dc without driving.

    the metro closes before the bars and clubs do, and if i dragged my butt into dc and paid a cover charge the last thing i want to do is to cut my evening short and keep track of the time to make sure to get the last train home. and personally, i find it nearly impossible to get a cab home to takoma park from u street or adams morgan at 3 am. the cabbies just don’t want to take you that far. plus, for the cost you might as well have paid to park in a garage.

    maybe those of us in the ‘burbs just shouldn’t hang out downtown. (at least unless we are willing to pay for parking, which seriously puts a damper on hanging out in dc.) i’m sure a lot of folks who live in dc would be more than happy to have us stay home. but there’s something odd about it — i live less than 5 miles from adams morgan. should it really be that hard to get home without a car?

  2. Don (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 10:40 am

    I’m sometimes mystified at how popular Adams Morgan and Georgetown are, considering how difficult it is to get in and out of them. With or without car. Why anyone braves G-town is largely a mystery to me, in fact. The shops and bars are great but my pulse and BP start to rise the second I pass the Brickskellar from Downtown. By the time I’m at Wisconsin I’m grinding my teeth like a candy raver at 3am.

    Just thinking about it’s getting me tense.

  3. wayan (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with either of you.

    Running Metro late would be a great improvement, as would putting taxi’s on meters so long drives to MD would be more profitable than charging $20 a pop for a ride to NoVA (where they all wanna go now).

    Also, why anyone past college graduation would head to A-M or G-Town on the weekends is beyond me. Too many bridge & tunnel ball caps for any non-frat boy-based fun.

    Still, neither activity would change the underlying problem – too many cars for efficient on-street parking, and I’m talking residents here, not so much visitors. That an on-street parking spot costs $15/year while an off street spot goes for $100+ a month tells you there is a serious price imbalance in the market.

  4. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

    That, and Arlington’s parking permits are already $25.

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