An update on parking proposals, part II 5

Last week, OP noted that we are revising our proposed parking requirements; a reexamination based on the comments we received as part of our extensive public process, and a reevaluation of how new parking standards could and should be implemented. Many people have commented on this, and a few people have contacted us to get more information on this new draft text.

Well, we are still working on the actual text, but below is a summary of what we are working on. Some of the provisions are different; some will look familiar because we are not proposing to change them. Of course, this is a work in progress; aspects may change by the time the draft text is complete but we wanted you to know where we are headed.

Summary of current proposal:

Eliminate separate transit zone text. This means that, unlike in earlier proposals, all parking regulations would be adopted as a comprehensive part of this ZRR process, not requiring additional, subsequent processes to map and implement separate transit zones.

• For any use, allow 50% by-right reduction in required parking for sites located close to transit (1/2 mile from a metro station, or ¼ mile from a streetcar line or WMATA bus route identified as part of the Priority Corridor Network).

Low density residential zones: retain existing one space per lot requirement; except no on-site parking would be required where there is no alley access.
   o Strong neighborhood concern about total elimination of requirement; likely to have minimal impact as providing on-site parking is standard practice.
   o Addresses properties that cannot access parking from an improved alley; new curb cuts eliminate street parking (no net gain), negatively impacts streetscape character, can result in loss of street trees, and can create safety issues.

Multi-family residential: standardize minimum parking requirement of 1 / 3 units greater than 4 units, and

Commercial uses: somewhat standardize minimum parking requirement and tie to use category rather than zone.
   o Corresponds to traffic consultant report (recommended 1 / 3 units); addresses some concerns raised about impact on ADA / seniors parking.
   o Would lessen disincentive to develop smaller commercial corridor lots in lower density areas where parking is difficult to accommodate (lot size).
   o Review of BZA cases indicated that parking relief tended to be for smaller lots, and averaged 50% of the required amount. All cases approved by BZA; almost all were proximate to transit.
   o Relief by special exception for further reductions allows BZA and neighbors review of potential impacts; and was advocated by Zoning Commission and supported by traffic consultant study. Also allows incorporation of TDM measures into the zoning text.

Industrial: minimum parking requirement for industrial uses similar to existing but 50% reduction for sites proximate to transit.
   o Sites tend to be less metro accessible and can be labor intensive.
   o Relief by special exception allows BZA and neighborhood to discuss possible impacts, and allows incorporation of TDM measures.

Downtown: No minimum parking required in the expanded downtown for any use.
   o Consistent with guidance from ZC and traffic consultant.
   o Particularly prevalent alternatives available – metro, car share, bike share, etc.

Institutional uses: parking requirements to be based on building size instead of people; standards for private schools and churches to be relatively compatible with existing code.
   o Need for standardization, clarity, and more certainty in regulations.
   o Studied existing institutional uses to minimize impact parking.

Relief from parking would be by special exception, not by variance.

Establish Transportation Demand Management (TDM) guidelines for review of any request for further parking relief, and examine mitigating TDM measures for proposals providing significantly more than the required amount of parking.

• Allow more vehicle parking flexibility:
   o Facilitate sharing of parking spaces.
   o Allow a greater number of small car spaces.
   o Allow car-share spaces to count towards required parking.
   o Facilitate mechanical parking systems to increase efficiency.

Bike parking:
   o Base bike parking on building area instead of number of car parking spaces as is required by existing code.
   o Add a requirement for multi-family residential use, aligned with DDOT and Council direction at 1 space per 3 units.
   o Require short and long term bike parking.

Revise parking lot standards:
   o Limit size of by-right surface parking lots.
   o Establish greater landscaping and canopy tree requirements for surface parking lots.


  1. All sounds good. Being more open to Curb Cuts (Special Exception) not more that every 20 feet…. Homeowners should be given precedent where parking is too difficult due to nearby commercial areas.

    • Hope OP will also look at situations where off-site parking is being offered as a substitute for on-site required parking. Take a look at how Baltimore handles this. There is nothing in the current regs. Results in arbitrary decision making by BZA. Examples are two schools a block away from each other. One has been allowed to substitute off-site parking for on-site required parking unconditionally. Another with closer off-site parking was given a conditional variance.

  2. While this sounds like an improvement, and elimination of the otherwise unidentified “transit zones” and the zero parking requirement associated with it may provide some comfort for those who are older and less physically fit residents of the city, I am not able to find the definition of the “Priority Corridor Network” using the search function provided. For those of us who live relatively near some bus routes which do not provide any serious choice of destinations, and in neighborhoods where the apartment residents on those lines already use the neighborhood parking instead of the parking provided in their building, can you provide any assurance that the residents in those new buildings constructed with the proposed 50% reduction in required parking will not be allowed to use the neighborhood parking stickers as a simple and cheap way to avoid paying the parking fees? Arlington County does make that connection, I note. And where can we find the definition of “Priority Corridor Network”?

      • Thank you. It appears to me that all of Wisconsin Ave. within DC and Massachusetts Ave. from Wisconsin Ave. to at least DuPont Circle are designated as Priority Corridor Network segments. While you may be correct that the market will support fewer cars on the Wisconsin Ave. segment, unless the service on both is substantially improved neither is really adequate for senior citizens, or parents of children trying to get to the many places which are necessary but not reachable by transit.

        If the idea is that market forces will force rational decisions, is the Office of Zoning intending to suggest that the owners of apartments built on these PSN areas and taking advantage of the lower parking requirement permitted at least provide assurance that the residents not take advantage of the residential parking permit system to park their cars in the nearby residential zones which are using the RPP system? I note that Arlington County precludes the inhabitants of such buildings constructed with a lower parking requirement from obtaining neighborhood parking permits. And if the idea is to let markets work, it is not unfair to require owners of new apartment construction who choose to put in fewer parking spaces to put their money where their mouth is. If they represent that their residents will use fewer cars, so that less parking is required, then they should not simultaneously allow RPP permits to be obtained for the cars which should not exist if they believe what they say. Can you tell us if such a preclusion of RPP parking permits for residents of these cost-advantaged apartments is being considered?

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