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D.C. aims to eliminate parking minimums

Friday - 3/1/2013, 7:25am  ET

Ari Ashe,

WASHINGTON - A proposed parking plan for the District could mean more residents forced to park on the streets, making it even more difficult for visitors to find parking.

The D.C. Office of Planning recommends eliminating a complicated formula used to calculate the minimum number of parking spaces required at new buildings in the District, and it's drawing concerns.

The office of planning says the formula for parking spots isn't necessary, but critics worry the new rules make D.C. less attractive to visitors from the suburbs.

"People can choose to go to restaurants in Tysons, or choose to go to restaurants in Bethesda. It's not as though they have to come downtown," says Lon Anderson, managing director of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Parking minimums are determined using a complex equation that tells developers the minimum amount of spaces that a new building must contain, based on how many occupants there will be.

Anderson says eliminating those requirements altogether will push more D.C. residents to park on the street, which will make it more difficult for visitors from the suburbs to find spaces.

D.C. resident Sue Hemberger agrees, saying it's already hard enough to get her friends from the suburbs to deal with the parking headaches.

"If you want to have a play date with kids on the weekend, you better make sure it doesn't last longer than two hours because everyone will get ticketed," she says.

The office of planning counters that parking minimums are a relic of the past and it must look for a 21st century policy.

"We have Bikeshare, Über, CarToGo, all within the last five years. The landscape for transportation innovation is unlimited," says Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning.

When you add ZipCar and Metro, Tregoning points out that parking policies must take into account all different modes of travel into the District.

She adds that eliminating parking minimums will have virtually no short-term effects and wouldn't jeopardize short-term parking for people visiting popular attractions like D.C. museums.

Anderson says D.C. is launching a war on cars. Tregoning calls the claim hyperbole and completely unfounded.

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