Photo by slack13 on Flickr.

Muriel Bowser got quite angry at Tommy Wells yesterday over the proposal to make residential parking permit (RPP) fees higher for a household’s 2nd and 3rd cars and beyond. She claimed Ward 4 would pay a disproportionate amount, but has not gotten its share of transit expansion. However, the numbers don’t bear out her claims.

Under Wells’ proposal, approved by the entire Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Ward 4 comes out in the bottom half of wards in terms of how much they’d pay, as would Ward 5, whose councilmember, Harry Thomas, Jr. also called the $25-100 per year charges “exorbitant.”

But the real winners in this proposal are wards 7 and 8. Wells is proposing a revenue measure hugely favorable to residents east of the Anacostia, at a time when Circulator service in his ward is being cut and service added to Ward 8.

Numbers of RPP-registered cars, by ward.

Here are the numbers of households in each ward with various numbers of cars:

1 car64,35212,04612,75213,8255,0134,83013,4412,011770
2 cars21,8583,2403,0685,3212,5471,9034,677687355
3 cars5,9568496811,3899495761,15522294
4 cars1,7912661863693192033345743
5 cars54680561001177686159
6 cars15432112540201953
7 cars641257179742
8 cars2334445400
9 cars1424220201
10+ cars1712811310
All cars


w/1+ car

Total cars137,68222,86522,14430,93915,23411,78928,2694,4222,020

Ward 4 only has 9.5% 11% of the RPP-registered cars in the city, compared to 22% 22.5% for Ward 3 and 21% 20.5% for Ward 6.

Ward 4 does have more households with 4 cars, and has the most with 5 cars (117), 6 cars (40) and 7 cars (17). So perhaps these 181 mega-car owners are the people Bowser is defending. But she has far fewer people with 3 than wards 3 and 6, and fewer with 2 than 1, 2, 3, and 6.

How does this change when we throw in the graduated revenue? The committee’s proposal would charge $35 for the first car, $50 for the second, and $100 for the third and beyond. Seniors would only pay $25 per car, with no graduated rates at all. I don’t have data on how many of the car owners are seniors in each ward, though citywide it’s in the single digit percentages. This chart ignores the senior exemption and calculates the cost per ward for the existing RPP stickers:

Estimated revenue from graduated system, by ward, not accounting for senior exemption.

1 car$643,520$120,460$127,520$138,250$50,130$48,300$134,410$20,110$7,700
2 cars$546,450$81,000$76,700$133,025$63,675$47,575$116,925$17,175$8,875
3 cars$595,600$84,900$68,100$138,900$94,900$57,600$115,500$22,200$9,400
4 cars$313,425$46,550$32,550$64,575$55,825$35,525$58,450$9,975$7,525
5 cars$136,500$20,000$14,000$25,000$29,250$19,000$21,500$3,750$2,250
6 cars$50,050$10,400$3,575$8,125$13,000$6,500$6,175$1,625$975
7 cars$25,600$4,800$2,000$2,800$6,800$3,600$2,800$1,600$800
8 cars$10,925$1,425$1,900$1,900$1,900$2,375$1,900$0$0
9 cars$7,700$1,100$2,200$1,100$1,100$0$1,100$0$550
10+ cars$10,625$625$1,250$5,000$625$625$1,875$625$0

Ward 4 is still only the ward that would pay the fifth most under this system, though it’s closer to fourth-place Ward 2 than on the basis of total numbers of cars. However, most of this revenue jump is from the very small number of people with a lot of cars.

Those people may well not end up paying so much at all. Many people don’t actually park on the street, but have off-street parking, especially in lower density areas like much of Ward 4. Many people with a lot of cars quite likely store most of them off the street.

If this goes into effect, some people who don’t park on-street but have a lot of cars, and find it burdensome to pay $75 extra per car per year after the first two, could stop getting RPP stickers for most of the cars. That would cut down on revenue, but also would mean fewer permits potentially vying for on-street space.

Correction: The first bar chart initially only showed the numbers of households with each number of cars, not the numbers of cars total. I’ve corrected it; none of the conclusions change.  Ward 4’s share of total cars is 11% rather than 9.5%.

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.