Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Downtown BID’s Alex Block, and I talked with Bruce DePuyt this morning about parking policy.



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DePuyt phrased the issue well early in the discussion: the simple challenge is that not everyone can park in a place like downtown. Some people need to drive, but everyone can’t, so the basic policy debate is how to allocate limited spaces among different people in the “fairest” way, whatever that is (special set-asides for groups like residents or those with disabilities, market forces, and/or our current policy, allocating based on who will tolerate the most circling to find a spot or who gets lucky).

If DC changes its policies in this realm, it’s not about “discouraging” people from driving; as a number of you pointed out in the comments on some recent articles, it’s DC’s growth, not a government conspiracy, that’s making parking scarcer. All the government can do is change the way it manages the available space, for better or worse.

Block also noted that businesses in the BID don’t expect they can gain customers by increasing parking, because it’s not practical. Instead, what they want is a good parking “experience”: making it easier to find where the empty spaces are, smoother methods of payment, etc.

Our discussion came in advance of a parking “summit” DDOT is holding this Tuesday 12/4, 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square/441 4th Street, NW to talk about what they learned from their recent community meetings, survey, and our online chat. Councilmember Mary Cheh is also holding a hearing on the residential permit parking system Friday at 11 am.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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.