Despite my subconscious desire to return to those days when I didn't bother going to public meetings, I ventured out on Wednesday night to DDOT's first quarterly public meeting on the Ward 6 Performance Parking Pilot Program
. Much of the discussion centered on issues outside of Near Southeast (such as how Southwest's parking-enforcement hours still run from 7 am to midnight seven days a week, even though Capitol Hill rolled theirs back to 9:30 pm six days a week and no restrictions at all on Sundays), so I don't really have a lot to report in terms of any changes that might be happening to the streets south of the freeway and east of South Capitol.
There are a few numbers to pass along--so far in 2008 (from the start of the program on March 26 through the end of October) the Ward 6 pilot zone grossed a bit over $235,000 in parking fees, with it splitting pretty evenly between the 80 game days ($118k, averaging $1,650 per day) and the other non-game days ($115k, averaging $1,300 per day). However, it cost the city more than $860,000 to install the meters and signage, so the program isn't exactly operating in the black yet.
The current red visitors passes are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31--however, DDOT's Damon Harvey acknowledged that the realities of trying to send them out in late December (in the midst of the holiday mail deluge) and the issue of on-street parking enforcement for the inauguration means that it's likely DPW will be told to not consider the old passes expired until Feb. 1 or some other date.
There was really only one attendee who was vociferously against the pilot's restrictions; others who got up to spoke had concerns about portions of it, but given how these meetings can sometimes go, it seemed that most people were accepting of the program. DDOT's Harvey made sure to emphasize a number of times that this program is not just about ballpark parking--it's to get ahead of all of the expected development and commerce coming to Capitol Hill, Near Southeast, and Southwest, and protect resident and business parking before it gets out of hand.
There were no specific changes announced for 2009--however, it sounded like if there were changes they'd be put in place closer to Opening Day. Although most of the people who spoke at the meeting mentioned that they didn't really see any influx of ballpark-related on-street parking on the Hill or areas further away in Southwest, it would be wise to keep in mind two things for 2009: the possibility
that the free Nats Express won't be running
(no decision yet), and, on the flip side, the opening of two new office buildings within two blocks of the ballpark that will have three levels of underground parking that could become available (100 M
and 55 M
, and perhaps also the underground parking now being built in the hole just north of the ballpark, though there's been no announcements of whether any of these will be offering gameday parking). The potential lack of free parking could drive more fans to try to find on-street parking, but perhaps the growth of close-in garage spaces will mitigate that.
Tune in again in February when I'm sure the traffic and parking discussions will heat up for the new season! (Yippee.)
Don't miss my addendum
, where I clear up that just because the meters haven't been paid for yet doesn't mean that the neighborhood won't already be seeing some of the revenue.