- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

A parking relief program in Georgetown is mired in the planning stages, though the D.C. Council called for its implementation more than a year ago.

The proposed six-month pilot program would allow residents to park in front of their own driveways in the neighborhood, which is clogged with cars.

“Since Georgetown parking remains a tremendous problem, I think the sooner this is implemented, the better,” said Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican.

Mrs. Schwartz proposed legislation in 2005 mandating the pilot program. The D.C. Department of Transportation has not determined how many driveways would be eligible.

“The implementation and the setup of the program are very time-consuming,” Transportation Department spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc said.

The Georgetown Kiwanis Club, which spearheaded the drive to alleviate parking problems, conducted a feasibility study two years ago and counted 350 driveways that are at least 9 feet wide.

Al Wheeler, vice president of the group, said these driveways plus the 5 feet of empty space on either side required by D.C. regulations would provide the 19 feet necessary for a parking space.

Mr. Wheeler, who does not have a driveway, said Transportation Department staff told him that permits could cost as much as $180. He called the proposed fee excessive and said permits under the pilot program should be free.

Vehicle owners pay $15 for an annual residential parking permit.

Transportation officials said a fee would be required under the pilot program to cover personnel and enforcement costs, but they would not estimate a cost.

George Clark, president of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations, said his group supports the pilot program and the fees.

“The city shouldn’t go out of pocket to support this,” he said. “The residents who want this should pay the costs of signage.”

William Skelsey, a Georgetown advisory neighborhood commissioner, said enforcement of the program would put a “serious strain on our police department and enforcement agencies.” He said the market rate of $250 a month to rent a parking space would be a reasonable price for a permit to park in front of a driveway.

Georgetown’s citizens association and advisory neighborhood commission passed resolutions against the program.

“It could very well increase the number of cars that come into Georgetown because people will have more private spaces at their use,” Mr. Skelsey said.

He said many driveways in his neighborhood are narrow and cars would jut into public parking.

Rob Houseman, vice president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, said parking enforcement in Georgetown was “pretty lenient.”

“If they enforce the 19-foot rule, then we will lose hundreds of spots. It’s not even up for debate.”

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