- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

Parking legislation proposed by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams would limit residential parking permits to three per household and raise the yearly cost of street parking for residents.

The legislation, which will be presented for public discussion at a D.C. Council committee meeting Thursday, will be followed by the announcement Friday of the location of 48 curbside parking spaces newly reserved for two short-term “car-sharing” companies.

The mayor’s proposal is designed to discourage car ownership and off-street parking by charging households $25 for the first vehicle, $50 for a second and $100 for a third. The annual permits now cost $15. The D. C. Council last year exempted council members from most parking restrictions when on official business, generously defined.

“The number of curbside parking spaces available in the District is fixed,” said Rick Rybeck, the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) deputy associate director for policy and planning. “We only have so much curb space, and it is what it is. There are all kinds of reasons that people demand on-street parking. But price tends to be a fairly effective way of reducing demand from whatever source.”

According to the 2000 census, the District contains about 248,000 households. The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has currently issued 118,165 residential parking permits. The city collected about $1.8 million in permit fees last year.

Transportation officials said revenue would rise under the proposed law, but how the number of permits issued would change and how much the revenue collected would increase was not clear.

Officials with the mayor’s office said the new legislation would encourage public transportation and the use of rental cars and bring the District’s fees closer to those of other major cities.

“It accomplishes many things at once, including bringing fees more in line with other big cities,” said Vincent Morris, a spokesman with the mayor’s office. “That helps us make sure we’re competitive with other cities.”

Chicago charges its residents $25 per residential permit. San Francisco last year raised its permit fee from $23 to $60.

The legislation must go through the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Works and the Environment. The committee, chaired by council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, will likely propose changes to the bill.

Mrs. Schwartz said she would wait for testimony from Mr. Williams and the public before deciding whether to change the bill. She said she worries that the three-cars-per-household restriction is unfair to households like group homes, where there may be more than three car-owning residents.

“I understand what [Mr. Williams] is trying to do,” she said, “but I’m not sure I can go along with it.”

Other council members said the legislation does not do anything to fix the real problem with the system. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 2 Democrat, said that his densely populated ward has some of the worst parking in the city, a problem that exists even though most residents do not have cars. Changing car allowances and fees, he said, would do little to help them.

“I know lots and lots of people who have no car, and I don’t know anyone who has more than three,” Mr. Graham said. “I don’t understand … what this is trying to fix.”

Mr. Graham said the mayor should focus on finding creative ways to create more parking in areas where there is not enough, such as Adams Morgan.

To do this, Mr. Graham said, the city should create legal parking spaces out of spots that are designated loading or no-parking zones or spots that are reserved for on-street government vehicles. This system, he said, has helped find new spaces for cars belonging to the short- term car-rental companies Zipcar and Flexcar.

“We created 25 new spaces, and a few of those went to car sharing,” Mr. Graham said. “If you are creative, it takes a lot of sting out of the [car-sharing] program and out of parking.”

The legislation also includes proposed changes to disability parking laws, which would place meters in non-metered, disability-only parking spaces in business areas and allows disabled persons with out-of-state placards to park under the same guidelines as those with District-issued placards.

The public hearing for the parking legislation will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

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