Housing Complex

Park It

Parking Requirements Make Your Rent Go Up

In the basement of the Watha T.Daniel/Shaw Library early last month, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2C came up with a wish list for everything it wanted in a new development that would go on a long-vacant, city-owned lot across the street. The last plan had foundered in the recession, and this time, the city was offering a blank slate. Why not ask for the works?

After a quick brainstorm, the list included architectural excellence, high density, lots of neighborhood-serving retail (“such as a Trader Joe’s”), and very green construction. The ANC also wanted as many units to be priced for low-income residents as possible. Oh, and the maximum possible number of parking spaces—at least two levels underground, and preferably more.

It all made sense, except for those last two items.

Parking and affordable units add more to the price of building housing than any other choice a developer can make. An underground parking spot costs between $30,000 and $50,000 to build, and residents pay for it one way or another—either directly, or because the price of every apartment rises to cover the cost. Adding parking on top of rent for an apartment means fewer affordable units, not more. And this building is across the street from a Metro stop, which means the land is more expensive, and getting by without a parking spot is that much easier.

Depending on their zone, residential buildings are required to have one spot for between one and four dwelling units, unless they get special permission not to. Those rules are being rewritten to get rid of that minimum requirement for buildings around Metro stations, which means developers could build no parking if they wanted to, with no extra fuss. But there won’t be any maximum number of parking spots, so developers can still build as many as they want.

Here’s the question: Will developers keep building large parking garages anyway? Neighborhood activists can cause a lot of hassle for construction plans, and building plenty of parking is an easy way to reassure residents terrified of newbies taking up all the on-street spaces. At the same time, skipping parking is still seen as a risk. It wasn’t that long ago that prospective renters and buyers wouldn’t consider going without it.

But there’s an obvious way around that: More development with less parking will prove the concept of a car-lite future, while also adding density, which supports retail that brings more amenities within walking distance. And you might just be able to get a cheaper apartment, too.

* * *

It’s easy to forget that the District’sbuildings didn’t always require parking. Many large towers built in the early years of the automobile—like the Windermere at New Hampshire Avenue and Swann Street NW, or 2000 Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle—have no garages at all, yet command some of the highest rents in the city.

That all changed with the 1958 zoning code, which required minimum amounts of parking for all kinds of buildings, from churches to tennis courts. (The writer of the car-friendly code also proposed parking garages to ring downtown as a buffer between residential and business zones. That idea, mercifully, didn’t make it.)

But the effect of the rule is that the cost of building is raised by as much as a third. And though developers can recover some of that money by renting spaces to those who want them, there are usually spaces left over. That boosts the price of each unit—which means that you’re paying more for parking, whether you get a space or not.

“Let’s say it’s $100 per month. If you built the parking space, and it cost you $40,000, $1,200 per year doesn’t cover it,” says Four Points Development’s Stan Voudrie, who’s behind the mixed-use Progression Place project in Shaw. “Then you have to spread that out over the whole project.”

With smaller buildings—the five to 25-unit projects that dot the city’s neighborhoods—the parking requirements can just kill plans altogether. For example, Level2 Development eventually gave up on one 12-unit project on Florida Avenue off 14th Street NW because the sloped site made building six parking spots prohibitively expensive. The lot sat for years until somebody else made a go of it.

If it doesn’t torpedo projects outright, the parking minimum rule can limit the number of units in a building. At Justice Park, a Columbia Heights project on city land comprised entirely of affordable apartments, there was only room for 12 spaces, so developer Dantes Partners could only build 28 units—even though the site could have taken more.

Sure, developers could go get a zoning variance. But that takes money for a lawyer and about six months of fighting, which means it’s not worth it for most builders.

District policymakers started to see the folly of those minimums in the last five or six years, as the zoning rewrite got going. Around the same time, over-construction of parking reached its greatest height of absurdity in a set of District-subsidized projects by the Columbia Heights Metro station: Along with a retail parking garage at DCUSA that’s sized for traffic on the day after Thanksgiving, two apartment buildings and one condominium have 382 units and three quarters as many parking spaces between them. Years after the condos sold and the apartments leased up, Donatelli Development is still having trouble renting the parking spaces, and the District is keenly aware of having wasted $46 million on a 1,000-space parking garage that only fills up when it’s open for free parking before a blizzard.

On that project, says architect Brian O’Looney of Torti Gallas, the only data on how much parking people would use came from suburban locations, and banks wouldn’t risk going lower on something that might not be marketable in an emerging neighborhood. But Columbia Heights is a valuable lesson: It’s turned into exhibit A for how much parking is too much. “This is so new,” O’Looney says. “Right now, the rules are so screwed up, you couldn’t figure out the math if you wanted to.” When the rules disappear, it’ll become easier to figure out what kind of customer will want how much parking in a given area, allowing developers to rationalize how much they build.

O’Looney has turned into something of an evangelist on the subject, and makes the case that requiring more parking leads to the construction of less housing, since it raises the cost of development. “That is causing a lot of residential that might be built to not be built,” he says. “If you take that out, a lot of projects that didn’t pencil will start to pencil.”

* * *

On the supply side of the parking problem, costs are fixed: You can’t dig a hole and line it with concrete on the cheap. Demand is more dynamic, and to some extent, it responds to price. Unlike in suburban areas, most District landlords don’t pair spaces with the unit, which means that tenants pay between $100 and $300 more per month for their cars. And some choose not to.

But parking ratios are usually higher for condos, because even people without cars want to have a parking space to boost resale value—which doesn’t make sense. “People don’t really make rational economic decisions about their parking,” notes Sam Zimbabwe, the associate director of planning, policy, and sustainability at DDOT who came to the job last October after heading up the Center for Transit Oriented Development.

So what would developers build, given their druthers? One market-rate developer and property manager, Keener Squire, has a lot of parking garages with empty spaces in its Northwest D.C. markets. At the 304-unit Hamilton House on New Hampshire, for example, only 55 spaces in a 77-space lot are used at any given time. Michael Korns, who manages new developments, says he’d probably build parking spaces for 15 percent of the units in a given new building if he could. Outside of downtown, that number rises. At Rhode Island Station right off the Red line—where neighbors insisted on a high parking ratio—developer Urban Atlantic built one space per unit, and actually has been able to lease nearly as many, while renting out vacant spaces to commuters during the day.

The problem with providing lots of parking is that somebody will usually use it, even if not the building’s residents, which makes overparking less of a financial risk. In order to shift that calculus, DDOT has started to recommend that the Zoning Commission prevent landlords from leasing their excess parking to somebody else (like Donatelli’s Kenyon Square does with Washington Hospital Center, a quick ride on the H line buses from the parking lot).

To head off neighborhood opposition, developers can also promise to prevent the people who live in a new building from parking on the street by coordinating with DDOT to make sure they can’t get residential parking permits. That’s what Level2 Development did at its new project at 14th and T streets NW, where groundwater issues would’ve made underground parking prohibitively expensive.

And when it comes to affordable housing, like what ANC 2C wants across from the Shaw Metro station? Forget parking altogether. People who qualify for such units tend to have fewer cars anyway; also, their rent is capped at 30 percent of their income, and there are lots of other demands on the rest of it. That’s why the D.C. Housing Authority got a zoning exemption to build almost no parking at its 344-unit Sheridan Station project right by the Anacostia Metro station. And it’s why Vicki Davis, president of Urban Atlantic, says she’s got 300 people on a waiting list for a spot in one of her affordable housing projects at Capper Carrollsburg, and “none of them said please don’t call me if I don’t have a parking spot.”

Besides, the government isn’t throwing around gobs of money for affordable housing these days. Would you rather it spend $10,000 on a parking space? And for that matter, wouldn’t you rather spend your own money on something else, too?

Illustration CC 2.0 Attribution/Share By Exothermic

Got a real-estate tip? Send suggestions to ldepillis@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6928.

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    Well said: complaining about parking is just inane. Performance-price meters to make sure that street spaces are available, let developers choose how much parking they'll build, let car-sharing services and transit bloom, and the free market will largely sort it all out.

    My 1960s building (pricey enough to merit mention in "Best Addresses") only has enough parking for 2/3 of the apartments. Even though it charges monthly rates half of what nearby commercial garages charge, there are still vacant parking spaces as well as many spaces that appear to be holding cars in long-term storage.

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  • Read

    Shaw has plenty of affordable housing...Lincoln-Westmoreland and Foster House are already on top of that same metro stop...within a 3 block radius there's plenty more...Asbury Dwellings, Gibson Plaza,1330 7th Street, etc. The ANC should be looking at market rate housing for the prime location of a vacant lot across the street from a metro stop.

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  • jaynuze

    Very well said Read

  • Q-Street

    I hope the ANC does push for parking, and I hope that the developments do end up with some extras, because I'd like to buy one.

    I agree with Read. Shaw does have plenty of affordable housing; over a dozen projects. Those blocks are indeed dominated by them. DC does need more affordable housing, but you don't build them all in one place. It's terrible urban planning.

  • http://shawdeservesbetter.blogspot.com Shaw_Guy

    I agree with the bulk of the story, but I have to say I don't think the "developers can also promise to prevent the people who live in a new building from parking on the street by coordinating with DDOT to make sure they can’t get residential parking permits" part is a reliable option.

    Eventually, someone in one of these developments is going to realize that if they pay taxes, they are entitled to city services. Street parking (and street maintenance and sweeping and construction) is a public good paid for with public funds. I am pretty confident that if it was challenged in court, the city would have a hard time explaining why people in an old, huge building like the Cairo in Dupont are all entitled to an RPP but people in a new big building like many of those around the ballpark are not.

    Plus, while I might be willing to lease in a building that has that restriction if I had no car and no plans of getting one in the timeframe covered in my lease, there is no way in hell I would ever buy one. For the same reason people without cars buy spaces to go with their units (adds value, and allows the broadest possible market of buyers), buying a condo in one of these buildings that didn't provide parking and that doesn't even allow you to park on the street like all of your neighbors is just plain stupid. You've eliminated the ability to sell to a buyer who is even *thinking* about buying a car, and 100% of buyers who already own one. I'd be very interested to see how these units appreciate compared with nearby comps that can get RPPs, and to see how long it takes the owners to sue the developer for not disclosing that their units won't gain value with the neighborhood like other projects do...

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.


    Good points - but that speaks to the problems with the RPP program, not with the perceived need to build more parking spaces.

    The pledges that developers make that their residents will not be eligible for RPP are appeasements to neighborhood NIMBYs.

    And you're right about the dynamics of the individual buyer - and the developers know this. The end result is that we (again) overbuild parking.

    Instead, we need to blow up RPP and start over. The price needs to rise substantially, we need more blocks to have meters on them, we need prices to vary in accordance with demand, while those with RPP stickers still must pay, but could pay a flat rate...

  • Mike

    @Payton, you don’t say where your apartment building is, but if it is providing enough parking for 2/3 of the units, it exceeds DC’s minimum parking requirements. It varies, but for some zones, the requirement is one space for 1/2 the units, for some zones it is one space for 1/3 the units and for some it is one space for 1/4 of the units.

    I would also be curious if you have information on how many cars the residents of your building actually own, not just how many cars are regularly parked in the garage. DDOT has recently gleefully announced that “only” 65% of DC households have one or more cars, so if this building reflects the average car-ownership rates, they would have more than enough vehicles to fill all the spaces. YMMV.

    @Shaw Guy, I have observed that for projects where developers have agreed that residents will not be eligible for RPPs, they build sufficient parking to satisfy the parking requirements of current and future residents – especially in buildings that are planned as condominiums. But, like you, I wouldn’t rely on the prohibition to mitigate the impact of inadequate parking on a neighborhood. I do share the concern that the prohibition might be lifted in the future.

  • er

    can't we convert some of those empty parking garages into dance clubs or go-cart tracks?
    or dog parks?

  • er

    does a map exist that shows where homes with cars are in dc?

  • @20002ist


    You say "I am pretty confident that if it was challenged in court, the city would have a hard time explaining why people in an old, huge building like the Cairo in Dupont are all entitled to an RPP but people in a new big building like many of those around the ballpark are not."

    It's not hard at all to explain: your apt/condo was market-priced at a discount precisely because it is DQ'ed from getting an RPP sticker.

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    @Mike: Yes, it's above the 1:2 ratio required under R-5-B zoning -- but this was built as a luxury building in the car-happy, pre-Metro 1960s. And yes, I've recently seen the building management's map of available parking spaces.

    A proposed development two blocks over is also above the required ratio (spaces for 71% of its units, even with 10% affordable units) but the neighbors are still wailing and gnashing their teeth about the lack of parking.

    The way to fix all of this should be to further open up the market for parking. Buildings could rent spaces to outsiders (beginning, say, with valet parking operators if letting outsiders in is a concern), and street parking permits should be auctioned off. Figure out the number of curb spaces available and auction off only that many. We use the market to price housing for people, but subject car housing to a command-and-control economy.

  • Mike

    @Payton, You say you have information on how many spaces are being rented to residents of the building (and have not provided it), and you have provided no information on how many vehicles are owned by the residents of the building. As we know some residents might decide not to rent a space and take their chances with on-street parking, especially if they don’t drive frequently.

    There is only one opportunity to provide sufficient off-street parking below a building, and that is when the building is being designed. If there isn’t sufficient parking planned below the building for current and future needs, it will impact the surrounding neighborhoods unless DC follows the policies that Arlington has, where residents of apartment buildings cannot park in the nearby single-family neighborhoods. In Arlington, the apartment zones are in a different parking zone. Of course, Arlington also requires that unless they get a special approval, apartment buildings provide at least one space per apartment plus spaces for visitor parking.

    As for your example, where you state that the developer is providing approximately one space for every 4/5 market rate units, you need to provide more information to know whether this is sufficient. Owner-occupants have, on average, more cars than renters, and vehicle ownership varies by neighborhood, but for many neighborhoods, neighborhood concern that there will be inadequate parking for the building would be justified. And in many instances, it is impossible to add new off-street parking for existing houses and apartments.

  • http://www,smartergrowth.net Cheryl Cort

    Great story on the trade off between affordable housing and the high cost of unnecessary parking.

    See Car-less map of DC: http://www.smartergrowth.net/anx/ass/library/11/transdatalayout.pdf. Ward 1, 2, & 7 & 8 all have car-less households exceeding 40%.

    The DC zoning rewrite set to eliminate parking minimums in transit zones will be hear by the DC Zoning Commission in fall of 2012. Weigh in on the side of better walk/bike/transit access and more affordable housing.

  • Mike

    @Cheryl Cort Your map that shows that there is no ward in the city where half the households are car-less. This means that more than half the households in each ward have at least one vehicle.

    We have a minimum parking requirement for most apartment buildings that is one space (or less) for every two apartments, which is less than one space for each household that has at least one car. Based on this map, you seem to conclude that we should eliminate the parking requirement that we have. In fact, even our current requirement doesn’t require sufficient parking to accommodate the needs of the residents and their guests.

    Looking more closely at the map, it is also clear that for many of the areas near transit at least 73% of the households have at least one vehicle, and for some areas, at least 87% of the households have at least one vehicle (less than 13% car-free). This reflects the fact that while the Metro system might satisfy commuting requirements for some households, it does not satisfy the full transportation needs of many households.

    As I said earlier, there is only one opportunity to provide sufficient off-street parking below a building, and that is when the building is being designed, and if there isn’t sufficient parking planned below the building for current and future needs, it will impact the surrounding neighborhoods. The alternative will only encourage more surface parking in the future, where more back yards will be converted to off-street parking, and more parking structures.

    So let’s make certain that the zoning rewrite is based in reality, and not on a groundless view of our transit system and the transportation requirements of DC’s residents.

  • Ward1

    @20002ist - Clearly you are not a lawyer. That would not hold up in court, even if it were true, which it isn't. Most new condos these days are sold without parking. You pay extra for the parking space. There's no "discount" because of RPP, especially when it comes to paying local property taxes.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.

    Mike - you keep talking about a sufficient supply of off-street parking, but you never mention price.

    A 'sufficient' supply at an artificially low price is not an efficient outcome. Developers are pretty good at determining what is actually sufficient, the zoning code is not.

    Concern from neighbors about scarce on-street parking might be valid, but they should also be irrelevant. It's a scarce resource - if you want to be both cheap and in abundance, then consider moving elsewhere. Residents do not have a god-given right to the on-street parking in their neighborhoods.

  • Mike

    @Alex B. The cost of off-street parking is only one of the factors that a household considers in determining whether they would own one or more cars. For example, for many households, the cost of parking at home is overshadowed by factors such as whether, given the job location(s) and hours, Metro or other transit is a reasonable option for commuting. Other transportation needs (such as shopping for a family, transportation to activities, visiting friends and relatives throughout the area) also might make the decision to own a car clear-cut. In those cases, a high cost of parking is more likely to affect decisions about how much to spend on a car and how often it would be replaced (or how much to spend on all other goods) as opposed to whether the household will own one or more cars.

    As for the assertion that the developer is better at determining how much parking to provide, we know that if the residents of a new building can park for little or no cost in nearby neighborhoods, the developer is not accurately considering the full cost of parking.

    You state that the neighbors’ concerns about scarce on-street parking are irrelevant. The neighbors’ concerns are valid. In fact, the Comprehensive Plan recognizes these concerns, and seeks to ensure that parking requirements for residential buildings are related to the actual demand associated with the type of development. It also makes it clear that reductions in the requirement must be based on a clear demonstration of a reduction in demand. Ms. Cort has not provided a demonstration that demand for parking is less than the current requirement, and instead only provided data demonstrating that, on average, the requirement is insufficient to meet the parking requirements of new residents.

    If 40% of the households in four wards are car-free, that means that 60% of the households in those wards have one or more cars, and the ratio is higher in the other four wards.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.

    As for the assertion that the developer is better at determining how much parking to provide, we know that if the residents of a new building can park for little or no cost in nearby neighborhoods, the developer is not accurately considering the full cost of parking.

    Fair enough, but that's because our RPP permits are ridiculously underpriced. The on-street parking is not actually free, but that's how it's priced. It shouldn't be. The current annual cost should be more like a monthly cost - and it ought to go even higher if needed.

    You state that the neighbors’ concerns about scarce on-street parking are irrelevant. The neighbors’ concerns are valid.

    I think both are true. Their concerns are both valid, yet also irrelevant. They are valid because they currently get RPP stickers for very low cost and get to monopolize public space. Their concerns are irrelevant, because they are monopolizing public space, and therefore the needs of the individuals should not overrule the needs of the greater community at large.

    It also makes it clear that reductions in the requirement must be based on a clear demonstration of a reduction in demand.

    If you're trying to establish what the demand is while holding that the price must be essentially zero, then you're not really establishing demand.

    Give away something for free, and you'll find the demand for that something is substantially higher than it would be otherwise.

    If you want to address parking policy, do it via parking policy documents. Don't do it via the zoning code.

  • Mike

    @Alex B. You state that the neighbors’ concerns are irrelevant. Yet, as I pointed out yesterday, according to the Comprehensive Plan, the neighbors’ concerns are relevant. Your personal opinion does not trump the Comprehensive Plan.

    This is not, as you put it, about the needs of the individuals overruling the needs of the greater community at large, but about the District’s commitment to sustaining neighborhood diversity and protecting the defining characteristics of each community.

    The policies you advocate are contrary to the specific Comprehensive Plan policies to protect and conserve the District’s stable neighborhoods and maintain their character. Instead, those policies would destabilize many of those neighborhoods, especially the ones that were developed without off-street parking and are valued as walkable, single family neighborhoods with access to transit.

  • W Jordan

    This article by Lydia "Mitt Romney" DePillis, is at best disingenous especially with its Ward 1 Columbia Heights examples. While parking is a hugh issue for neighborhoods, developers over built parking because they saw it as a profit center during the luxury condo housing bubble. They counted on making easy money bundling $30K to $50K parking spaces into easy "no doc" or "interest only mortagages, flip their project an get out of Dodge before the chickens came home.

    When these same developers greed help to crash the market, they via pay-to-play got CM Graham to block the best use of DCUSA parking to up the value of parking for Donatelli's projects as well Allegro also on 14th St.. DCUSA parking was under used because it was not accessible during road contruction and not well promoted. As well, these same developers got taxpayer bailouts or sweet public land deals which they sat on to respeculate.

    Even more disingenous is blaming affordable housing efforts for the highcost of housing. If this was not such a serious moral issue the logic of this entire article would be laughable as pure nonsense.


  • Bob Roehr

    So what about a requirement that there be a small number of parking spaces available for rent by car share programs like Zipcar? Part of the design would be to configure the spaces so that they are easily accessible to all in the neighborhood, thus providing greater community benefit. The rental income would be a cash flow to pay for the spaces over the long term, and/or figured into financial operations of the condo.

    Car share programs tend to work best when a sufficient number of vehicles are both convenient and available. It works OK in neighborhoods where there still undeveloped or underutilized lots. But as anyone who has been on 14th Street lately can tell, infill development is everywhere and within ten years spaces in Shaw will be a lot fewer.

  • LJ

    As a concept, I'm in favor of less dependence on cars. But as long as employers move away from Metrorail-accessible properties into cheaper locations not accessible by Metro, I must insist on keeping a car.

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    @Mike, actually I live in an "owner" building and the new building will be rentals. I'm pointing out that their parking ratio will actually be higher than my building's, even though it would reasonably be expected to be lower (since it's rental, partly affordable, and closer to transit).

    I don't work for the management (I just live here), so I don't know exactly how many spaces are available right this moment, but suffice to say that I would have my choice if I wanted to rent a parking space. If prices were higher, I would expect that some of the mothballed cars in the garage might find somewhere else to go, as well -- perhaps into off-site storage or into that great garage in the sky.

  • Mike

    @Payton, As I said earlier, the number of spaces available for rent in the garage is not the information that we need. You have provided no information on how many vehicles are owned by residents of the building, or how many additional vehicles are routinely parked in the building or neighboring streets by guests or employees.

    And, even if you provided that information, it would simply be one unconfirmable data point (for some unnamed building, although there are only a handful of “mentions” for condominiums and coops built in the 1960s in “Best Addresses,” several in the SW urban renewal district) for one neighborhood. This cannot be the basis for any sweeping policy changes.

    Census data shows that, even though 35.7% of DC households have no vehicle available, on average, there are 0.9 vehicles per household. DC’s owner-occupants have, on average 1.29 vehicles per household, while DC’s renters have, on average, 0.6 vehicles per household, which is more than the minimum parking requirement for an R-5-B zone, such as the one your residence is in.

    There is only one reasonable opportunity to develop off-street parking below our buildings and that is when the construction is being planned.

    Many of DC’s neighborhoods were developed without sufficient off-street parking, and without anticipating intense nearby development that would rely on neighborhood streets for their parking needs. Even if we did not provide adequate off-street parking in the past, that is not a mistake that we should necessarily repeat.

    The comments in a related thread on greatergreaterwashington.org point out how important adequate off-street parking for maintaining a vibrant local business district and to the residents of nearby neighborhoods.

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    Believe me, Mike, I understand that the data points that I have do not constitute a true study of parking demand -- but does indicate that even with high incomes and relatively low prices, the demand for parking does not simply expand to fill every available space. If prices were more realistic for off-street and on-street spaces, price elasticity would make even more spaces available.

    You are still missing that parking is a dynamic market that can be fulfilled in many ways, and not just through zoning requirements. Much more can be done to better allocate and manage the many spaces that already exist: performance pricing on-street spaces, sharing spaces between uses, renting out existing garage spaces, remote (e.g., valet) parking, automated garages, parking lifts, etc. Yet instead of applying innovations like these, and gradually dismantling the assumption that there will always be a parking space provided at one's destination (thereby discouraging alternate modes), our zoning code currently clings to the outmoded assumption that even those of us who don't drive must subsidize parking with every single new building.

  • Mike

    @Payton, The relevant question is not how many spaces can be sold or rented at any particular price. The minimum parking requirement is used to mitigate the impact of new development on the surrounding area by requiring that at the building provide off-street parking. For residential buildings, this requirement should reflect the likely vehicle ownership, as well as provide for employees and guests that are likely to drive to the building. They do that in Arlington, with a minimum parking requirement that is far higher than DC’s and includes parking for visitors.

    So, given that you have provided no data about the number of vehicles owned by the residents of the building, or the parking needs of visitors and guests, you have not provided even any information whether the parking provided at this particular building is sufficient to meet the needs of the residents. You have, however, stated that the actual parking capacity is substantially higher than our current minimum parking requirement for an R-5-B zone.

    Our zoning regulations do have provisions for reducing the amount of parking required for non-residential uses. These take many factors into account, and are based on the factors that are likely to affect the parking requirements associated with the uses in the building.

    As I noted, our parking requirements for residential buildings is much lower than the census data on vehicle ownership rates. If we do not provide adequate parking below buildings as they are constructed, the alternative is either to overwhelm the nearby neighborhood streets, which might result far more paved areas behind houses, or to develop additional surface or above ground structured parking.

    From an environmental viewpoint and from an urban form viewpoint, having the parking below ground is a superior solution.

    As to your other innovations, they are available, and if a developer found that it would reduce his costs by devoting a smaller area to parking and using valet parking (even off-site if it meets the requirements of the zoning regulations), automated garages and/or parking lifts, those options are available.

    And while, as you claim, vehicle ownership might vary with the cost of parking, we have a transportation system which is limited in scope, frequency and hours, which means many DC residents consider vehicle ownership to be necessary. The minimum parking requirements for residential buildings are low relative to the actual number of vehicles owned by DC residents. It seems unlikely that your policy recommendations will result in, for example, a 75% reduction in vehicles per household. Instead, it would mean that they overwhelm neighborhood streets or less environmentally friendly parking will be constructed after the impact is realized.

    You seem to imply that the purpose of minimum parking requirements is to assure people that there will always be a parking space at one’s destination. In fact, minimum parking requirements are among the actions which implement the Comprehensive Plan policies to protect and conserve the District’s stable neighborhoods and maintain their character. The policies you seem to support would destabilize many of those neighborhoods, especially the ones that were developed without off-street parking and are currently valued as walkable, single family neighborhoods with access to transit.

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