DC makes the Wall Street Journal twice in one week: big box retail wages and zoning changes on parking
Every Day High Unemployment") and more importantly, with an article, "Cities Cut Parking Mandates," on initiatives by cities, leading with DC, to reduce the amount required for parking provision in new housing developments.
From the article:
District of Columbia planners intend to present the proposal to the city's Zoning Commission in late July as part of the first comprehensive overhaul of the city's zoning in more than 50 years.
The changes would allow developers to determine how much parking, if any, is needed for projects in the District's downtown and within a one-quarter-mile radius of any of its Metro stops.
It is a profound shift that several other U.S. cities have made in recent years. In 2010, Denver reduced its parking requirements near light-rail stops. Last year, Philadelphia did the same for residential projects downtown. Los Angeles last month waived parking minimums around certain transit stops. New York City in May reduced its maximum allotments of parking for residential projects in downtown Brooklyn.
Urban planners, who have pushed for years for cities to become less car-dependent, say such rules will encourage more residents to embrace mass transit, biking and walking. They also argue that freeing developers of the steep cost of parking can help reduce real-estate prices and rent levels in some cases.
It also features quotes from opponents to the change, by Nancy MacWood and Meg Maguire. From the article:
Yet some question whether that goal is realistic. Nancy MacWood, chairwoman of the Committee of 100, a citizen-planning organization that monitors District of Columbia zoning proposals, said the goal of waiving minimum parking requirements "is to try to…convince new residents that they don't need a car. But there isn't much comfort that this is actually going to be the result." .
And the entry and the comments illustrate the problem of dealing with one element of parking and mobility policy without simultaneously considering the other elements that shape and affect such a change.
I have argued that at the same time the city changes zoning requirements concerning parking, it needs to change other practices concerning the management of parking and curb space, including
(1) publishing a census of parking and curb space inventory;
(2) creating "transportation management districts" (not "parking districts") to implement and manage multi-modal transportation planning at the sub-city scale;
(3) incorporating off-street parking facilities into the parking planning mix and inventory;
(4) creating integrated parking wayfinding systems; and
(5) increasing the price for residential parking permits.
Changing one element without the others likely will have limited positive impact on reshaping mobility towards optimality. See "Testimony on parking policy in DC" for more discussion.
DC is two cities: the inner city core and the outer city and their respective spatial patterns and distance from activity centers shapes mobility choices
Mobility practices differ significantly in the core of the city which is best served by transit and has a traditional grid of streets and blocks that makes transit, walking, and biking efficient methods for getting around. In the core people walk, bike, and use transit more than they drive.
Outside of the core, this is less the case, and households are more likely to rely on automobiles to get around.
That doesn't mean that a car is required, but people often argue that getting around by sustainable methods is impossible, when it isn't.
But even the outer city is two different mobility landscapes, one is well served by transit, especially the subway, and the other part isn't. I discussed this in the blog entry "Understanding why Upper Northwest DC residents don't buy into the sustainability mobility paradigm."
Opposition to the change is centered in the outer city and opponents tend to be older as well.
DC's political environment is dominated by the outer city: and the inner vs. outer city dynamic shapes the discussion on parking policy (and everything else)
Not unlike how the State of Virginia legislature or the US House of Representatives are dominated by rural interests because of the way that political district boundaries are drawn, DC's political culture and the model of how elected officials represent the city and/or their wards tends to favor the outer city over the core.
Ward 1 and Ward 6 are fully located within the "inner city." Ward 2 is split between the inner and outer city, perhaps more attitudinally and demographically rather than spatially (Georgetown residents, lacking a Metro station, tend to have higher rates of car ownership than rowhouse neighborhoods in the core).
While they have sections that have housing patterns and transit service comparable to the inner city, Wards 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 comprise the "outer city," although Ward 8 being poorer than Ward 7, is more focused on access to transit than the other wards.
That's why despite the fact that the city is decidedly an urban place, politically it has more of a suburban shaped agenda when it comes to resident attitudes about land use, development, and transportation--fostered by the fact that most residents who weren't born here tend to have moved to the city from suburban locations, and even without realizing it, they bring the suburban planning paradigm to bear on these issues.
Below is a map of Upper Northwest DC, showing 1 mile radius distances from the Takoma, Petworth, and Fort Totten stations on the eastern side (east of Georgia Avenue) and the Friendship Heights, Tenleytown and Van Ness stations west of Connecticut Avenue. (Although this is augmented by high frequency bus service on 14th and 16th Streets, plus Georgia Avenue. The 16th Street line is now the highest ridership bus line in the city, approaching 20,000 daily riders.)
As you can see, large swathes of Upper Northwest--Ward 3 and Ward 4--lie more than 1 mile away from a subway station and from a decent commercial district, although they tend to be served by bus service, but it may not be be frequent.