February 5, 2014 | by guest columnist
14th Street shows need for parking
parking meter, 14th Street, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor in response to Mark Lee’s column of Jan. 31, “Stop counting cranes, it’s embarrassing all of us.”

After nearly 10 years of reading this newspaper, I have come to respect the viewpoints of many of the columnists. Mark Lee, for instance, provides an interesting perspective each week as a community business advocate. I have come to recognize his regulation-is-bad-private-business-is-the-savior editorials well in advance. Many times I agree with him, but I think he has some misconceptions on the parking issue.

In the last year I have been fortunate enough to relocate to Logan Circle, and subsequently moved into one of the large 14th Street buildings that now dominate the area. Lee argues that legally requiring a certain amount of parking spaces hinders development and leads to higher rents. He seems to miss the impact on the residents, however. In my building, the street level is for businesses. As such, the first parking level under the building is used for their employees. If these folks did not have access to the parking structure, where would they park? Many are not D.C. residents, and thus couldn’t park on the street for more than two hours because they don’t have the resident permit.

Secondly, well over 50 cars are parked on the resident parking level of my building.  If this option were not included, that would mean 50-100 more cars on the street. Those familiar with the area know that off of 14th Street you have blocks of rowhouses, some with parking in back alleys and some without. Since several of these structures are divided into multiple apartments, there is barely enough parking currently to support all these people. If my building, in this example, did not have optional lower-level residential parking, this would create parking gridlock throughout the neighborhood.

Lee also suggests that taking away the parking requirement would reduce rental/condo rates. I doubt that considering the demand for city living. I also point out that in many buildings parking is not free. My building offers one space for several hundred dollars a month. That is not part of rent, but a separate fee for those that don’t want to search the street for parking.

I don’t argue his frequent point that the city is an overwhelming maze of confusion for permits, zoning and bureaucratic nonsense. However, a lot of progress could be made for the positive just by following some of Lee’s other suggestions. Putting more cars on the street will only negatively impact our way of life. Until D.C. becomes more pedestrian and bike friendly (such as more shopping options that don’t require a trip to Maryland or Virginia), cars will remain a part of life. Let’s keep them underground and out of the way.

—Chris Greaver, Logan Circle

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