During the fight over its planned residential development at the old Babe’s Billiards site in Tenleytown, Douglas Development Corporation made a pledge to neighbors: If the company were given permission to construct the building without any off-street parking, it’d also bar residents from obtaining residential parking permits to park on the street. That way, residents would be discouraged from having cars at all, rather than clogging the already limited on-street parking. It seemed like a neat solution for the Metro-accessible building. The problem was that many residents didn’t believe that Douglas would keep its word, or that the RPP ban would be enforced.
This morning, Ward 6 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells introduced a bill that aims to fix the enforcement issue. “The feedback from [the District Department of Transportation] has been that they cannot honor the agreements made by the neighborhoods that support higher-density infill development,” Wells said in introducing the measure. The Neighborhood Parking Protection Act of 2013 “gives the mayor, through DDOT, the authority needed to grant a property owner’s request to make the property ineligible for residential parking permits when they’ve negotiated an agreement with their neighbors to let the project move forward,” Wells said.
But the bill faces an uphill climb: Wells introduced a similar bill last year that wasn’t passed. Wells told me yesterday that last year’s bill was opposed by the Apartment and Office Building Association and killed by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. So now he’s trying again, repackaging what he says is essentially the same bill with a new name.
“The way to deal with parking is going to be through regulation, not through zoning,” Wells said.
Councilmembers Jim Graham, Anita Bonds, and Marion Barry co-sponsored the bill upon introduction, and Mendelson referred it to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, chaired by Mary Cheh of Ward 3, where the fiercest parking battles—-including over the Babe’s project—-have taken place.
The text of the legislation is available here.
Rendering from Douglas Development