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There has been much discussion by residents and city officials over the impending "apocalypse" of traffic and parking congestion with the opening in April of the new ballpark. Residents not only in Near Southeast (all 400 of you) but in Southwest and on Capitol Hill have been waiting for the city to announce exactly how on-street parking will be handled during games, as there is great concern as to whether residents will still be able to park on their streets and won't have to deal with hundreds or thousands of cars circling the neighborhoods looking for free parking.
It's been thought that the model used at RFK--special parking permit stickers for residents to put on their cars--would be ported over to the new ballpark area, but over the past few months council member Tommy Wells and his staff, along with DDOT, have been working on a pilot plan they hope could address not only the parking issues at the ballpark but also the parking problems seen on Capitol Hill along Pennsylvania Avenue, Barracks Row (Eighth Street), and the streets around Eastern Market. They are looking for ways to balance the needs of residents with the impact on businesses if parking is hard to come by, and are looking at a concept called "Performance Parking." Here's my five-cent summary:
"Retail" streets would have the hours of metered parking extended to seven days a week until late in the evening, and with the prices to park at the meters raised to a level that would discourage some people from arriving by car, opening up more spaces and reducing double-parking and congestion. The adjacent residential streets, now covered by Zone 6 parking rules that ostensibly only allow two hours of visitor parking during weekdays (but are dependent on the parking enforcement folks tracking the cars to know how long they've been there) would see the installation of meter kioskson one side of the street, where nonresidents could park for no more than two hours even until late in the evening and on weekends. (Residents could park on both sides of the street as long as they want.)
These rules would extend with slight tweaks to the streets around the ballpark: "Retail" streets in these areas would allow longer stretches of parking (four-plus hours), but would have rates for metered parking comparable to the amount charged in pay lots, to discourage ballpark-goers from believing that on-street parking would be any cheaper than what's available in existing lots and garages. And with the residential streets having meters that wouldn't allow parking for longer than two hours, most people going to three-hour-plus baseball games would avoid parking on those blocks.
In other words, these restrictions would tell visitors--park in a lot, or take Metro, or walk, or ride your bike, but don't expect to drive down and find a space for free on a street somewhere.
One other facet of this plan would be to use the revenue from these much higher on-street parking rates to pay the cost of the new kiosk-type meters (that cost about $7,800 a pop), the cost of the extra enforcement needed to make the plan work, and also improvements to the streets and the communities to make alternative modes of transportation more enticing (fixing sidewalks, adding bike racks, making bus shelters better, etc.).
This plan has been previewed for local businesses and the ANCs (today it was the media's turn), and it's hoped that a bill creating this special pilot project can start its path through the city council process in early January. Alas, this would not be enough lead time to get it all in place before Opening Day, so there will probably be some tumult during the early part of the season as the city tries to keep stadium visitors from taking over the residential neighborhoods.
You'll no doubt be reading much more about this idea over the coming months, and there will be public meetings and refinements and many words written about it all, I'm sure. And of course one other piece of the puzzle--the locations of the various lots where the Nationals will be directing season-ticket holders to park--has yet to be made public. Eventually Wells's office will release maps (perhaps soon) showing the streets that could be designated as retail or residential, along with other documents providing far more detail than what I've previewed here.
In the meantime, I'm going to do something I've never done in the nearly five years that I've been running this Near Southeast site--I'm going to open up the floor to comments about this idea, that then hopefully can be read by city officials and other residents to see what people's impressions are of the plans. But be forewarned, if this little low-tech experiment goes off the rails and people start getting out of control, I'll close it down and won't be inclined to give it another shot. So behave. Of course, you'll be commenting on something you probably need to learn much more about to truly be informed, but when does that ever stop anyone on the internet?
UPDATE: Here's a story from the Post on Wells's parking plan. " 'The ballpark visitors are going to be very tempted to look for cheap parking' on city streets, said Neha Bhatt, a planner in Wells's office. 'We've got to get that out of people's head that free parking exists here.' " The story also reminds me to mention that plans are to make Buzzards Point off-limits to on-street parking during ballgames (though it's likely some cash lots will be built there).
Also, there's going to be an Committee on Economic Development oversight roundtable on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium" on Jan. 11 at 10 am. (It was originally scheduled for this Monday, the 17th, but they felt like there hadn't been enough public notice. I'll say--I hadn't even heard about it!)
Comments (13)
   
 
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JD says: (12/14/07 4:51 PM)
(I think I deserve the honor of the very first comment on my own blog, don't you? But everyone else, please stay on topic. Don't be the one to ruin the experiment for everyone.)

What do *you* think about metered parking for non-residents even on residential streets, and late into the evening and on weekends?


atweber says: (12/14/07 5:06 PM)
There are several areas where there isn't the two hour limit now. People who work on the hill arrive early and park all day in these spots south of the freeway.

As an resident of Capitol Hill Tower, I couldn't get a zone 6 permit to park on the street. So I have no street parking in the city.


atweber says: (12/14/07 5:07 PM)
...with the exception of the limited zone free areas in Near Southeast.


Bradley says: (12/14/07 6:52 PM)
From what I have heard so far, I think that this plan it great. I am tired of seeing all these cars with out of state license plates hogging our street parking at night. These home owners should either become DC residents and register their cars or else find someplace else to park them. This plan helps residents on all days, not just game days. I am a little concerned that Capitol Hill Tower residents can't get zone 6 permits however.


The Piper says: (12/14/07 7:11 PM)
Any plan for parking on residential streets around the ballpark should take into account the need for parking for visitors to the U.S. Capitol going to evening receptions/events. They may not even know that there is a ballgame that night/afternoon & should also be able to find neighborhood parking. Everyone dealing w/Metro seems to assume that all out-of-towners & suburbanites live near metro & have EZ access to metro - au contraire! We will be driving to & from games & the city needs to make accomadations to earn all our tax money. Those of us who actually purchase baseball tix, food & drinks are the ones who are really paying for the stadiunm through the 10% tax on the above game tix.


E says: (12/14/07 7:50 PM)
I refuse to believe that metered parking will prevent late arrivers for the games from parking on my residential street. Residents should be given guest tags for visitors for game days, and the streets should be off limits (read: towing enforced) if you don't have a permit or a visitor pass on game days. CHT (and other future condo owners) should be allowed to obtain permits if that is consistent with other high-rise dwellers in other city zones.


Mith says: (12/14/07 11:17 PM)
JD, I just moved to CHT, but only after reading your site!! OK, on to the topic. sor of. I have a parking space right now in a garage, but it is also open to public parking. Some people are concerned that ballpark visitors will overwhelm our reseved parking. Also, what will happned to all the blocks north/northeast of the stadium that have unlimited parking currently? Where there are no sings/restructions? Unless I am missing something there are several blocks of unlimited parking in the area.


JD says: (12/14/07 11:35 PM)
According to the map I saw, the blocks north of M, south of the freeway, and west of 2nd Street (SE, and across to 1st St. SW) would in these preliminary plans be labeled as "retail" streets, with long-term meter parking that would cost an amount similar to garage/lot parking. Virginia Avenue would be a "retail" street as well.

The other streets (from Canal Park east to 7th Street) would be considered "retail-adjacent residential" streets, and would have meters that would allow 2-hour parking by non-residents on one side of the street, while residents could park on both sides of the street with no time restrictions.

This would be every day, not just game day. Meters would run from about 9 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.

No matter what gets decided, I'd wager that the current parking configurations around the neighborhood won't stay as they are too much longer.


imgoph says: (12/15/07 7:37 PM)
JD, thanks for this little comment experiment -- i hope you won't regret it and it'll encourage you to open the site up in general.

now, to the topic at hand: my personal opinion is that the city needs to definitely make sure that the meters offer no cost benefit to those who choose to drive and park on the street versus parking in a garage. i'd argue that's something that needs to be implemented all over the city, as our streets are a public resource that is being under-utilized, but i'll save that rant for its appropriate place.

hopefully, most people will realize that coming to the game via the metro and walking one block to the stadium will be the most convenient way to go. of course, we have to hope that wmata will get things right and have enough trains to handle these crowds. fingers crossed!


Tom says: (12/16/07 2:32 AM)
It would be great if the city and the Nationals could build a small dock on the Anacostia river just off the RFK parking lot and ferry people up and down the river to the stadium. Its a short ride from there and it would bypass all the traffic, etc. Plus folks would probably enjoy it, etc.


bendygirl says: (12/19/07 11:35 AM)
yeah, meters! I'd rather see some meters and more Ward 6 parking signs. Of course, I'd also like to see people at DOT and the other business commuters leaving space for residents to walk down the steps to the awaiting train. It's very frustrating missing my train because of the throngs of people walking up the stairs and escalator. It's really very frustrating.

PS, I love the site commenting!! You totally ROCK!


Jeff says: (12/19/07 10:25 PM)
bendygirl: Although I am one of the ones trying to go up the stairs in the morning, I sympathize with you. The DOT has taken over the Navy Yard metro station like it is there to serve them exclusively. They need to learn they aren't at L'Enfant Plaza anymore.

If they are using the digital meter boxes (I assume the plan is to use the meters where you pay at a fare box and place a paper receipt on the car dashboard), why wouldn't they adjust the rate based on the anticipated demand? I don't see why the local retail businesses would sign up for a plan charging steep fees ($10? $15?) to park for four hours on a non-gamenight.


Tom says: (12/27/07 3:21 PM)
I would hope the parking folks would build a small boat launch at the RFK lots on the Anacostia river and ferry Nats fans to the game
from there. RFK has the best parking.

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