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Zoning changes could mean bigger headache for DC parking

Wednesday - 7/3/2013, 6:45am  ET

parking DC D.C. (WTOP/Kristi King)
D.C. may strip away the requirement that new buildings include on-site parking, making street parking more difficult. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON - One could be excused for wondering how parking in the District could get any worse.

But AAA Mid-Atlantic warns a proposed change would make available spaces even harder to find and more expensive a rather unattractive combination for drivers.

At issue is the city's zoning code. Sure, that might sound like an invitation to nod off, but proposed changes to the code could have real implications for future development and parking in the city.

When new buildings go up downtown and in other high-density areas, the zoning code requires that they include on-site parking.

But that requirement may be stripped away.

The result, opponents say, would draw people to commercial and residential developments without the requisite addition of parking spaces.

More traffic. More circling. More frustration.

The idea has plenty of precedent and lots of supporters. New York, Boston and Portland, Ore., took similar action years ago, according to the car club.

Montgomery County, Md., has special transit zoning districts that cut parking requirements near Metro stations, according to a news release.

Supporters say communities become more walkable, sustainable and just plain enjoyable without the additional parking spaces to attract drivers.

Some businesses have said the current requirement for parking spaces adds a significant expense and can be a deal breaker for new construction.

The District's zoning code dates back to the 1950s.

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