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There is little in D.C. that raises the blood pressure more than permits, passes and parking.
Enter Jack McKay, council member commissioner for ANC 1D and man with a plan. More specifically, a parking plan. He’s pushing for immediate implementation of a “Day Parking Pass Pilot Program” that would revolutionize parking in Mount Pleasant – or at least part of it. There have been similar programs elsewhere – Austin, Texas and Aspen, Colo. – but this would be a first for D.C.
So here’s some background: Several blocks north of Park Road are on the cusp of conversion to Residential Permit Parking (RPP). Only local residents will be able to park there. They’ve been irked for some time by temporary residents with out-of-state plates blocking up their spaces. The curb-congesters cluster their cars in the unzoned area, and who wouldn’t, if it’s allowed? Once residential permit parking restrictions are in effect, they’ll have to go elsewhere.
But McKay says he doesn’t want to kick everybody out, and that’s where the pilot comes in. It would allow employees at local businesses to park in the residential zone during the day – for a cost. With the program, he says, commuters arriving for work at Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home or, say, Bancroft Elementary School, will be able to commandeer a “residential” space for $650 a year – or just $2.50 a day. Without it, they’ll be left circling – maddeningly – around and around the block.
Everyone – except the unregistered scofflaws – should be a winner, thinks McKay. Residents can still park, commuters can still park, and the neighborhood gets a bit more cash in the kitty for area projects.
What? A parking story with a happy ending? Unfortunately not. Even as McKay pushes ahead for implementation, the District Department Of Transportation has said not so fast. Having agreed in June last year that the program should go ahead, DDOT changed its mind in April.
“So now we’re in a tough situation,” says McKay, “because the blocks adjacent to Bancroft Elementary are about to go RPP, and the school year is about to start. Some 50 Bancroft commuters have been parking on our streets. Now what do they do?”
According to Damon Harvey, public parking program manager at DDOT, staff at Bancroft Elementary and Stoddard Baptist Home were not completely happy with the scheme. Commuters were not willing to pay the $650 annual fee, and Harvey didn’t want this pilot to become a default parking plan for teachers across the city. “It isn’t designed to help them,” he said.
He has a different plan: enforce RPP hours of operation from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. But it’s unclear whether that would solve the original problem of out-of-town cars and, according to McKay, residents immediately objected because they don’t benefit as much from it: “It got no support.”
McKay is as resolute as ever, but his parking revolution still seems a ways off.