Photo by Mr. T in DC.

Do you live in Adams Morgan, U Street, Columbia Heights, or Mount Pleasant? If so, Councilmember Jim Graham needs to hear from you on Thursday evening about parking policy. Graham is holding an evening community roundtable on his one side of the street parking bill.

Last year, when the Council was first considering the performance parking pilot, Graham held another community roundtable. Almost all of the speakers echoed a similar refrain: “I get home from work at 7, 8 pm and there’s NO PLACE TO PARK!”

Those frustrations are real, and it’s good for Graham to hear them. However, there’s no way to make parking easier for everyone. If the spaces are full, someone is using them. If we change the rules to facilitate parking for one group of people, others will then find parking more difficult. Graham’s bill includes some good changes and some bad changes. It’s important to consider the needs of everyone before moving forward.

Furthermore, parking policy affects more than just those who are parking. Non-drivers sometimes have guests come to visit by car. Cars affect pedestrians and cyclists. In 2000, 47.4% of Ward 1 households did not own cars. With all the transit-oriented development since, it’s very likely that over half of Ward 1 households today don’t own cars. However, parking hearings typically attract mostly drivers. It’s easy for an elected official to assume that the opinions he hears at such a hearing reflect those of all voters.

Help balance out the participation in Thursday’s roundtable. Graham needs to hear not only from car owners, but other residents as well. The hearing starts at 6:30 Thursday evening at the Columbia Heights Community Center, 1480 Girard St NW. If you can testify, call Maria Puig-Monsen at 202-724-8195 this afternoon to sign up.

Tomorrow, I’ll review some of the provisions of the bill and suggest some topics to mention during your turn to speak. However, a detailed policy recommendation is not necessary to testify. It’d simply be helpful for Graham to hear from a wide range of Ward 1 people, both car owners and non-owners.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.