- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

The D.C. Transportation Department has devised yet another way for the city to gouge residents and motorists. The political gimmickry this time is a pilot parking program in Georgetown. We know better. Georgetown plan today; citywide program tomorrow.

Like many D.C. neighborhoods sandwiched between major corridors, Georgetown lacks enough parking spaces. Residents there — as on Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle and other neighborhoods in Southwest, Northeast and Northwest — regularly have to circle for several blocks before they can find a parking place within walking distance of their home. As a matter fact, in Near Southeast and Southwest, home to the new baseball stadium and huge commercial and residential developments, residents are bracing for the city to tax and treat them as outsiders as usual, as developments and construction work take away curbside parking.

The D.C. parking-space shortage is not new. Indeed, the first Barry administration devised an ornery set of parking policies, which remain in place today but have not solved the problem. One such policy is the Residential Parking Permit, which motorists are forced to buy each year lest they subject their cars to being papered with pink parking tickets while parked in front of their own homes. The Williams administration instituted yet another parking permit; this one for residents who live near RFK. With the new baseball stadium to open next spring, residents who live near the waterfront are asking city officials two questions: Will we be able to park near our homes? What are the plans to keep our property and neighborhoods safe from scofflaws?

Unfortunately, Mayor Adrian Fenty continues to follow his predecessors’ anti-resident, anti-motorist taxing policies. In order to alleviate concerns about inadequate on-street parking, the city proposes to allow Georgetowners to block their own driveways, which is against the law. But to gain this privilege, the city wants to levy an exorbitant tax on Georgetowners. Residents can count on it soon being enacted citywide. Indeed, the residential parking program started in Foggy Bottom before it was “fine-tuned” and enacted citywide.

We appreciate the fact that the Fenty administration — i.e. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, the Williams administration’s transportation chief — has to anticipate the fiscal impact of implementing a new policy on the bureaucracy. However, surely the administration doesn’t think that all residents who would like to be exempt from D.C. parking laws would be willing — or be able to afford — $180 per vehicle.

The city should go back to the drawing table. The latest parking policies simply do not pass the revenue-raiser smell test.

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