Thursday, August 30, 2007

Parking debates on Listservs

Maybe it is the summer doldrums, or maybe it is the lack of concentrated parking issues when many people are at the beach, but for some reason, parking seems to be a hot topic in both Cleveland Park and Friendship Heights.

In Cleveland Park, the issue seems to stem around residential versus commuter parking in zoned areas, given the proximity of the Metro. Residents are being creative in possible solutions including the creation of sub-zones, alteration of the duration of allowable time, or the creation of visitor passes.

On the Tenleytown Listserv, residents share a similar fate, but are also concerned with the folks are are using the surface parking to shop at Mazza Gallery and other retail along Wisconsin Avenue. The concern is that while there is plenty of available parking, it is dramatically underutilized, according to a recent Friendship Heights Traffic Study(PDF):

Mazza Gallery - 850 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 20% Utilization
Weekday PM 30% Utilization
Saturday 40% Utilization

Chevy Chase Pavilion - 675 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 60% Utilization
Weekday PM 80% Utilization
Saturday 50% Utilization

5225 Wisconsin (Bambule/Elizabeth Arden) - 235 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 80% Utilization
Weekday PM 80% Utilization
Saturday 20% Utilization.

On contributor complained that the existing parking structures are underground and "creepy". This combined with the expense (as compared to public lots in Bethesda, MD) prompted calls for a municipal parking garage in Friendship Heights.

For a group of people who have consistently opposed new development, partially on the basis of traffic issues in the community, this is an odd request. As noted by one commentor:

You believe that the city should spend money acquiring a piece of property and then spending 30 Million plus on a parking garage (and also preclude generating any future property or sales taxes from the lot) so someone can drive...and have cheap, convenient and essentially subsidized parking?

So the question isn't whether there is adaquate parking because there clearly is but whether the public sector should spend money to make parking, and hence driving, easier?

But the same folks who are clamoring for a parking garage are the same people who routinely are complaining about traffic which is clearly contradictory unless you intend to beam the cars into the garage somehow?

It will be interesting to see if the ANC's and City Council pick this issue up again. The last time proved to be too difficult to arrive at any conclusions for best practices going forward.

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