The District Department of Transportation issued a new rule this month that puts the power of enhanced residential parking in local governments’ hands.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, will now have the power to nominate certain blocks for resident-only parking, something that used to required DDot approval alone.
“The city is changing,” said Petworth ANC Commissioner Kim Varzi. “It’s becoming more dense. but, at the same time, the city’s hoping people veer away from using cars and rather use the car-sharing program, or scooters or the bike share. But people still want cars.”
Enhanced residential parking is different from DDoT’s traditional, or basic, residential parking program. Instead of two-hour only signs on both sides of a street, enhanced parking closes off an entire block to residents only at all times.
The program is designed to deter out-of-town drivers from using residential blocks to park their cars and hop on the city’s mass transit system.
Varzi said her block near Allison Street and Kansas Avenue NW regularly fills up with Maryland drivers parking their cars to hop a bus to work downtown.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “It’s got to stop.”
At a meeting last week, ANC-4C nominated the 5800 block of Colorado Avenue; 1200 block of Longfellow Street; 4500 block of Seventh Street; 1500 block of Webster Street; and the 1300 block of Quincy Street for enhanced residential parking.
Still, there are certain criteria DDoT must verify before the stricter, resident-only signs will go up. According to the rule, at least 85% of all available spaces have to be occupied between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays. Of those, half of the cars must be registered somewhere other than the place they’re parked.
Alana Askew lives along one of those Petworth blocks scheduled for enhanced parking measures. It’s a good thing, she said — as long as it’s enforced.
“(Basic parking) is not really enforced,” she said. “And anyone with D.C. tags can park there without it being an issue for any amount of time.”
Commissioners say parking enforcement officers are already stretched too thin, and DDoT officials agree. Enhanced parking options aren’t just about solving for a lack of enforcement, though; they’re about cutting down on legal over-crowded blocks that result from two-hour grace periods the basic parking program permits.
Priscilla Robertson is one of those out-of-town drivers. She lives in Takoma Park but visits her grandchildren in Petworth almost every week.
Often, though, making the short drive isn’t worth the hassle, she said, because available parking is far and few between.
“I don’t want to look for parking,” she said. “I don’t want to pay for parking. I usually take Metro or walk; I actually walk from Takoma Park sometimes.”