In DC, Free Parking Could Come at a Cost
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 02:09
A D.C. Department of Transportation proposal to provide free, city-wide parking to Washington, D.C visitors has residents concerned with what is already a scarce resource within the Beltway.
The August announcement of proposed visitor parking came after Georgetown’s announcement of a vehicle ban for all undergraduates, which took effect this fall.
The current visitor parking system in D.C. allows residents living on residential roads with permit parking to apply for two-week parking passes at local police stations. The proposal, however, would allow visitors to register online for a visitor placard that would be valid for one year. The placards will not have any information about the car or its driver, allowing the passes to potentially be used for multiple vehicles.
Since 2008, DDOT has sent placards directly to some residents in Wards 3, 4 and 5 as part of a pilot parking program. Limited areas of Wards 1, 2 and 6 were added in 2012. Wards 3, 4 and 5 have a lower population density than other areas of the city, which have garnered more adamant opposition to the proposal. The area of Ward 2 that participated in the pilot program did not include Georgetown.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E has found issue with the DDOT’s “one-size-fits-all” policy, ANC2E Commissioner Peter Prindiville (SFS ’14) said.
“These regulations allow every house to have a permanent guest pass, and that’s just not feasible in our area,” Prindiville said. “We already have limited parking, and I think the legitimate fear is that these passes could be sold. It’s just going to make it difficult for everyone to park here.”
Prindiville stressed that the new policy infringes on residents’ rights to park freely in the area where they live.
“I think all residents here have a right to parking, and that includes a more stringent regulation on visitor parking,” Prindiville said.
Prindiville believes that the DDOT proposal could be changed or delayed due to the strong reaction throughout the city.
“Every single neighborhood association has come out against it,” Prindiville said. “I think the community response on this has been almost universal. I think that will be heard at DDOT — I hope that it will be heard — because the system will just exacerbate parking issues.”
Prindiville compared the DDOT regulations to the university’s parking ban.
“I submit that students should have that right, too,” Prindiville said. “They vote here, they live here, they’re full-fledged residents. There’s no reason they should be discriminated against.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson disagreed that the DDOT proposal had any bearing on student parking rights.
“The university strongly believes that most students do not need cars at Georgetown,” Olson wrote in an email.
Prindiville clarified that the two issues are separate.
“Although I’m really frustrated by the university’s stance on parking and putting regulations about parking in the Code of Student Conduct, this is a permit issue [for visitors],” Prindiville said. “It’s a bureaucratic decision that could wreak havoc on the parking situation here.”
Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Peterson (COL ’14) agreed and added that it would be unwise for students to attempt to use this expansion of visitor parking rights as a stepping stone for student parking rights.
“This probably isn’t the right issue to engage on,” Peterson said. “We need to work together to form a more livable community and engage our stakeholders and try to voice our way through.”