Parking, parking, parking: Eastern Market DC
As I've said before, I'd like to dub somehow a video from The Brady Bunch tv show, where one sister character, Jan, complained that everything in the house was about "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" to say "Parking, parking, parking." Parking has the same level of resonance in local politics and transportation planning.
I got so angry a couple months ago at the monthly Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee on which I sit about "parking, parking, parking" that I haven't been motivated enough to attend the last couple meetings in the face of sickness/rain, etc.
The inside food vendors continually complain about (1) the weekend closure of 7th Street SE in front of the market, because of the "loss of parking" and (2) how people park longer than they should in the unmetered parking spots behind the market.
WRT the former, I keep suggesting valet parking setups, coordinated parking information systems (there are parking lot and structure options in the area but most people don't know about them, and delivery services--wrt delivery, every time I bring it up one of the vendors belittles my comments and I am pretty f*ing sick of it to the point where I am really tired.
I've been making the same points more or less, since 2007, as well as that there should be an Eastern Market district master plan, a Capitol Hill Destination Development and Management Plan, and the creation of a Transportation Management District to deal with the mobility issues, which concern transit, biking, delivery, public space management, etc.
It gets pretty tiresome to say the right and same things over and over and over.
It turns out that the inside vendors are again asking for the street to be reopened on the weekends because they say this is why their business has declined. Capitol Hill Corner has a post about it, "Eastern Market struggles with its identity" and the comments are pretty pointed, and generally don't support the vendor position.
Like most of the commenters in the CHC blog post, I too have argued that part of the issue with a drop off in sales has to do with a myriad of factors--increased competition (more than 6 new or renovated supermarkets have opened in Eastern Market's retail trade area over the past few years, with at least two new stores in the Capitol Riverfront and a Whole Foods going to H Street NE, plus a revitalizing Union Market food district that is heavily programmed), a failure to be innovative in marketing (while prices of produce are way too high, meat and seafood prices compare to counter prices at local supermarkets), a need to manage the destination better, a failure to address mobility questions intelligently and systematically, and a change in demographics with younger residents less likely to be able to cook and needing some education on how to do so.
(That's why there needs to be a market study and plan...)
I also make the point that the vendors are seriously wrong in believing that the parking spots on 7th Street were a significant benefit to weekend business because they weren't metered on the weekends. All of the spaces next to the market shed were used by vendors, as probably were most of the other spots on the east side of the street (I don't remember the exact number but on the east side of the street there are fewer than 12 parking spots). In any case, they didn't turn over.
Still, they could step up and support valet parking and delivery while instead they continue to oppose such "innovative" responses.
WRT the latter issue, I keep saying, "meter the spots." The vendors respond about how other supermarkets don't have meters etc. But just as how national and international policy makers are ignoring macroeconomics as it relates to post-recessionary policies ("Why economics failed," New York Times), they are ignoring economics. Or as Paul Krugman writes:
"But policymakers just keep finding reasons not to do the right thing."People will overconsume what they don't have to pay for. In fact, parking meters were created not to make money, but to spur turnover of parking spots in commercial districts, to support commercial activity.
If the inside vendors want people to be able to drive and shop, they have to discourage long term parking. The only way to do so is to meter the spots. They argue instead to pay someone to monitor the spots, but that is an unnecessary labor cost.