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Pondering Performance Parking in Georgetown

The District Department of Transportation has two operational performance parking areas and a third coming online in March. Could Georgetown be the fourth?

An informal working group of stakeholders met with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Tuesday to discuss the possibility of bringing performance based parking to Georgetown.

Damon Harvey, DDOT's acting citywide program manager, told Patch in a phone interview, "We are merely exploring the idea... there is no pending performance parking coming to Georgetown."

Harvey added that at this point his agency is merely having discussions with stakeholders and that those discussions are still at "very preliminary stages." 

Jim Bracco, the executive director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, was equally firm about the exploratory nature of the process. "We’re kicking the concept around," he said.

For those unfamiliar with the tool, performance based parking is a mechanism for managing curbside parking to maximize land use. Harvey explained that parking is really a land use issue and that curbside space could also be used as bike parking or green space.

"Along commercial corridors one of the best uses is parking for retail establishments," said Harvey.

Performance based parking is a tool to protect residential parking, support businesses by encouraging space turnover and to promote alternative forms of transportation. According to the agency's website, DDOT's programs have used a combination of policies in a variety of ways to achieve these goals:

  • Escalating or variable pricing parking meter rates
  • Adjusted days and hours of operation for curbside space management
  • Adjustable parking fines
  • Expanded Residential Permit Parking plans

Though no time line been established for holding public conversations, Harvey told Patch that DDOT has done some preliminary work to look at parking patterns in Georgetown.

"The concept behind what performance parking can be and what it’s proved to be in Columbia Heights and the Ballpark is pretty promising," said Bracco.

For a neighborhood to be considered for performance parking, it must meet three primary requirements:

  • Up-to-date meter infrastructure
  • A vibrant commercial corridor
  • A special traffic generator

"Georgetown itself is a special traffic generator," said Harvey. "The neighborhood "is an incredibly attractive potential opportunity."

Bracco said there is a certain appeal to the parking tool, especially in combating the notion that Georgetown is a difficult place to find parking. The BID has long worked to remind people of the many parking garages in the area.

As he sees it, "You want the curb space priced so that all the parking options, whether curb or garage are sort of equal."

Harvey said that the plan for each neighborhood has been different and that DDOT does not assume that what works in Ward 1 will work in Ward 2 or Ward 6.

"It is very important within performance parking to come up with a strategy to make sure you do not have spillover impacts on residential corridors," said Harvey.

Because of the pilot nature of the program, the agency has been able to flexibly respond to feedback from communities, to adjust the hours for enforcement to meet their needs. Additionally, before any pilot would be instituted there would be public meetings to allow residents to learn and offer input.

"The good news about any of this stuff, honestly, is it is set up as a pilot. We have tons of flexibility in it," said Bracco.

He added, "You can try to get the thing to work better. That’s what is kind of promising."

word wyz January 11, 2012 at 02:08 PM
The odds of street parking rates being raised are greater than those of garage rates being lowered. That's what makes it attractive to a money hungry district gov't.
Peter January 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Anybody who has ever complained about the parking situation in Georgetown has to support performance parking. If M St is always full; the solution has to be raising the meter rates. People will either pay more or park further away, simple as that.
Payton Chung January 12, 2012 at 09:26 PM
What this article doesn't mention is that performance parking in Ward 6 generates over $600,000 a year in local improvements, including sidewalk beautification, pedestrian and bike signs, bike racks, solar trash compactors, benches, etc.
SF Park Ripoff May 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Hey Washington. Performance pricing uses the ENRON model for Pricing. How did that work out for you last time? San Francisco tried their hand at performance parking and their project was an EPIC Failure. Why? Because performance parking is based on Congestion Pricing. The SFpark pilot is laughing referred to as the ENRON parking Management system. Why, because the transit agency artificially inflates parking prices to not only change motorist behavior but to generate much needed revenue. If you think price fixing and market manipulation are a good thing then you are going to be be ripped-off. Want to learn the truth? Go to SFpark.info

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