Housing Complex

Wells Introduces Bill to Enforce Parking Permit Bans

Agreements to ban residents of buildings like this one in Tenleytown from obtaining residential parking permits would be enforceable under Wells' legislation.

During the fight over its planned residential development at the old Babe's Billiards site in Tenleytown, Douglas Development Corporation made a pledge to neighbors: If the company were given permission to construct the building without any off-street parking, it'd also bar residents from obtaining residential parking permits to park on the street. That way, residents would be discouraged from having cars at all, rather than clogging the already limited on-street parking. It seemed like a neat solution for the Metro-accessible building. The problem was that many residents didn't believe that Douglas would keep its word, or that the RPP ban would be enforced.

This morning, Ward 6 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells introduced a bill that aims to fix the enforcement issue. "The feedback from [the District Department of Transportation] has been that they cannot honor the agreements made by the neighborhoods that support higher-density infill development," Wells said in introducing the measure. The Neighborhood Parking Protection Act of 2013 "gives the mayor, through DDOT, the authority needed to grant a property owner’s request to make the property ineligible for residential parking permits when they’ve negotiated an agreement with their neighbors to let the project move forward," Wells said.

But the bill faces an uphill climb: Wells introduced a similar bill last year that wasn't passed. Wells told me yesterday that last year's bill was opposed by the Apartment and Office Building Association and killed by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. So now he's trying again, repackaging what he says is essentially the same bill with a new name.

"The way to deal with parking is going to be through regulation, not through zoning," Wells said.

Councilmembers  Jim Graham, Anita Bonds, and Marion Barry co-sponsored the bill upon introduction, and Mendelson referred it to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, chaired by Mary Cheh of Ward 3, where the fiercest parking battles—including over the Babe's project—have taken place.

The text of the legislation is available here.

Rendering from Douglas Development

  • tntdc

    Mendo killed the Office and Apartment Building Association ?

    Proofread please.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/ Aaron Wiener

    @tntdc: Thanks, fixed.

  • Bill

    Wells wants a dictatorship to help create auto free DC. I and many other people think Wells is going to far.

  • WestEgg

    @Bill -- how, exactly? Does the bill somehow go beyond enforcing negotiated agreements?

  • Bill

    Many of these agreements with developers do not hold up over time and 5 years down the road the developer is gone and the new owners will not live up to the agreements. The new owners may find that the agreement is not workable such as in the "Babe's" building future tenants or owners want a RPP. Downtown a developer agreed to a community amenity an ice skating rink it only lasted a few years and was then removed. Happens all the time in DC but Wells is trying to pretend developers mean what they say. The rest of the council knows these agreements do not hold up over time as communities change after the building is built and the developer made his money and is gone.

  • Tom M.

    We are really enjoying the new development at Babe's. Oh that's right, NOTHING has happened since ANC approved the agreement in late 2012.

  • dan

    How are RPP restrictions acceptable and good policy? Why would we create a class of citizens that aren't afforded the same privileges of all tax paying residents? These restrictions smack of separate but equal

  • Tom M.

    @Dan - over the top a bit with the separate and equal verbiage? The elimination of parking minimums was pushed as providing choice to renters/buyers. You might want to pay more for an apt/condo with RPP option and less for one without. No one in a RPP restricted building would arrive without the knowledge of the restriction. So people exercising choice is the same exact thing as 400 years of racial discrimnation? In your mind....

  • hflakker

    @ Bill. With all respect, isn't that the reason why it is smart to enact regulations so that promises made today by developers are held up over time? And not all regulations are perfect the first time around. Amendments are often needed to fine tune things.

  • Eric K

    I really like Wells, but I don't think these restrictions on RPPs for new residents is fair. Why are they less entitled to parking than their neighbors? They are just as much DC citizens and they pay the same tax rates. I would be more in favor of increasing the cost of RPPs to a market rate and encouraging everyone, single-family home owners included, to own cars less and take transportation more.

  • RT

    I think creating a second class of citizen in DC is a huge mistake. We threaten to ingrain in the mind of entitled homeowners that a renter is a secondary class of citizen.

  • Tom M.

    @Eric K - why assume the RPP restrictions apply to NEW residents? New residents and long time residents can choose to rent/own in an RPP available building or choose to rent/own in one that has not met the minimum parking requirements and agreed voluntarily to not be eligble for RPPs? It is about choice.

  • SEis4ME

    Seems like Tommy the Saint is at it again. This time desiring to create second-class citizens. But it should come as no surprise since he and the anti-car brigade are pushing us down a jagged hill.

    There is absolutely no reason that any DC resident should be banned from getting a parking permit. It only proves that he and his chattering class of followers consider multi-modal transit as anything that doesn't include cars.

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  • Park


    Plenty of D.C. residents are already banned from getting parking permits: the ones who live on blocks that don't have RPP-only parking. Which means they can't get permits to park on adjoining blocks that are zoned.

    The whole point of this legislation is to ease the concerns of nearby car owners who worry that residents of buildings without parking will park on the street. This make it so that if you choose to move to a building without parking, you can't easily park your car on the street and inconvenience your neighbors. Is that really what makes someone a "second-class citizen?"

  • DC Guy

    As it is, there are plenty of streets where there is little demand for parking, yet they are zoned at owner request so they can park in other people's neighborhoods.

    Many buildings and streets are already exempt from RPP. I see little harm in providing enforcement teeth if there is a community agreement. If you want to live on a street or in a building with parking, then you need to pay for it. It is little different than the base parking minimum debate.

  • DC

    You war on drivers mouth breathers are getting confused. Maybe it's because it's Wells proposing this, but this is addressing the thing that you're supposedly afraid of! You say new buildings shouldn't go up because new residents will take "your" street parking. This ensures they won't! But you're so wrapped up in thinking Wells has it out for you and your chosen lifestyle that you're now agin' it.

    The primary beneficiaries of this legislation are you nimby whiners who think you have a god given right to park your car on public property as close to your home as possible. You complain that new buildings should provide their own parking, but where's your off street parking?

    You people are the most entitled useless blobs of fat and spittle in this town.

  • DC Guy

    BTW, I generally agree with those who believe we need to completely revisit the city's parking policy from scratch.

    Areas that are currently zoned need to be redefined. We need to look at something closer to market based pricing for both whatever the RPP equivalent might be, guest passes and meters.

    In zone, $50 for the first car, $250 for the second and so on; Out of zone drivers should be able to park in zone, but pay $10/day to do so (with apportionment for the per-hour/half day basis).

  • Economist

    All these people talking about second class citizens should recognize that

    (a) residential parking permits are not a fundamental human or political right;

    (b) eligibility for the RPP is something that can be negotiated away by consenting parties who own the property rights;

    (c) the value of the housing unit to which RPP eligibility is forfeited might go down, but as long as everyone knows what they are getting into, it should be fine.

    In other words, you can't buy or rent a housing unit at a discounted price (discounted by the value of whatever concessions were made in exchange for forfeiting the RPP) and then claim to be a victim of discrimination because you don't get that RPP.

    The victimhood language has to stop. It's ridiculous. Wells' bill makes a whole lot of sense and is good policy because it just says the city should have the ability to enforce agreements.

    If you don't like it, don't move into an RPP-exempted building.

  • SEis4ME

    Is that really what makes someone a "second-class citizen?"

    Considering that the parking is in public spaces, it does create second-class citizenship favoring those who are able to get permits vs. those who can't..even though both have "legal" vehicles. Frankly, I think anything that makes it impossible for people to own a car is ridiculous.

  • SEis4ME

    If you don't like it, don't move into an RPP-exempted building.

    And if you don't like seeing people disagree w/what you think makes sense, stop reading. The notion that you feel as if you should give people reprimands on where they should move is just as ridiculous.

  • Overreact much?

    The RPP thing is completely reasonable when it is voluntarily proposed by the developer. In the Babes case (and other cases as well), the developer proposed a project with a certain amount of parking and claimed that the amount of parking was sufficient based on market estimates of what their target tenants would want. The developer agrees to the RPP limit as a "guarantee" of sorts that they won't end up attracting a flood of residents that will just park on the street because they can't get a spot in the garage.
    When the developer goes to lease out the building, they'll have to adjust their rents and marketing accordingly to attract tenants that don't want parking. The developer knows this going in, and presumably the tenants renting the units will know that "no RPP" is part of the deal -- this will affect the rent accordingly. no one is being deprived of rights, because no one is forced to live in the building. if they want RPP, they can live elsewhere. no different than choosing between an apartment complex with a pool or without one.

  • Tom M.

    @Overract - Babe's developer -- Douglas Development -- was released from the parking minimum requirement. There will no garage, no off street parking involved. FYI. Of course, there's been no action on the project except to avoid the higher tax rate for undeveloped properties....

  • anon

    DEVELOPER 1: Hey, did you hear that we can now put up apartment buildings in DC without any sort of parking infrastructure?

    DEVELOPER 2: But won't some people want to have cars in our buildings?

    DEVELOPER 1: Who gives a shit, because now we're gonna make even MORE money, thanks to this DC government handout!

    DEVELOPER 2: How so?

    DEVELOPER 1: Come on, dumbshit: How much does it cost to put in parking in one of our buildings?

    DEVELOPER 2: I dunno, a couple of million?

    DEVELOPER 1: And...

    DEVELOPER 2: ...now that money goes straight into our pockets! And we can still charge the same -- or even MORE -- for these apartments, because DC residents will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live a block from a BikeShare station! Brilliant! Thanks DC government!

    -- DEVELOPER 1 and DEVELOPER 2 merrily walk off to buy new boats. --

    -- FIN --

  • DC Guy

    @Tom M

    I heard that Douglas will be breaking ground on Babe's later this summer. Conspiracy much?

  • Tom M.

    @DC Guy - I'll believe it when the Douglas Development actually DOES something to kick off work at Babe's.

  • Economist


    When you choose where to live you choose a whole range of amenities and make all sorts of tradeoffs. For example, you might have to give up in-boundary attendance at a desirable public school but you get a lower rent/house price in exchange. Or you may give up access to a public library within walking distance in order to be closer to a park. Likewise, you may move into a new apartment building where there is no parking underground or on the street (no RPP for residents), but you are right on top of Metro and bus lines.

    Nobody in any of those situations is a second class citizen.

    Your complaint about making it "impossible" to own a car has no more basis than making it "impossible" to attend Wilson High School if you live outside that school's boundaries or making it "impossible" to own a dog if your building doesn't allow pets.

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