The topics of parking and traffic flows have often triggered heated exchanges at Georgetown community meetings. The discussions at such meetings, generally long, rarely result in measurable progress toward a concrete solution. This was again the case at the monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E on Feb. 26.
As someone at the meeting offered during the discussions, such proposals seem like “a solution in search of a problem.”
The commission devoted over an hour to two proposals by Commissioners Jim Wilcox and Rick Murphy. The hall at Visitation School was standing room only. At least a dozen Georgetown residents made impassioned remarks.
Wilcox had hoped that the meeting would “move the process forward.” His idea was to pass a parking resolution that would be an official notice of intent to the District Department of Transportation. That would then impel DDOT to hold town meetings on specific issues in the notice, leading to written options that could be approved or rejected.
Wilcox’s resolution suggested that a program called Enhanced Resident Preferred Parking be implemented in specific sections of Georgetown’s mixed commercial and residential areas. Three parking “sectors” were delineated on a map of Georgetown.
Sector one would cover the shopping corridors of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue and one block to either side, where a split parking system would be established. A two-hour paid parking system for everyone would take up one side of the street. On the other, exclusive unlimited parking for Zone 2 resident parking permit holders would be implemented.
Sector two would be made up of generally residential streets that lie east and west of Wisconsin Avenue, starting at Prospect and Olive Streets and going up to Dent and Q Streets. This sector would convert from unlimited parking for Zone 2 permit holders — with others able to park for up to two hours — on both sides to having that arrangement on one side only. On the other, parking would be exclusively for permit holders.
The rest of Georgetown would be sector three, in which the current parking situation would remain as it is.
The split-sided system exists in other parts of the city and has worked very well, according to Wilcox. But it was the piece that received the most heated comments.
The problem is that D.C.’s Ward 2 ranges from Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, downtown and to parts of Kalorama — even the White House — and from the memorials to Hains Point. People who don’t reside in Georgetown itself would be entitled to use the exclusive unlimited one-side parking for residents.
Billy Martin, owner of Martin’s Tavern on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street, has seen many parking plans come and go. He was opposed to Wilcox’s notice of intent. “There are lots of concerns and controversial questions in it, a lot is not there,” he said.
Debbie Winsor felt the proposal encompassed many “unintentional consequences.” She suggested expanding a community parking coalition that had been meeting for years to address it.
“A notice of intent is whatever you want to make of it,” concluded Ron Lewis, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner and member of the original parking coalition. But he seemed to feel that it was a good tool to stimulate intense community discussion.
Commissioner Rick Murphy introduced a one-page resolution proposing that the ANC 2E take no position at this time concerning implementation of Wilcox’s proposal. Instead, Murphy requested that DDOT “provide, if reasonably available,” a list of information for the commissioners regarding the parking proposal — mainly numbers.
Murphy asked for the estimated number of parking spaces that would be reserved for exclusive use of Zone 2 permit holders if the three sectors were to be implemented. He asked for the estimated number of vehicles that would bear the Zone 2 stickers during the day and how many parking spaces in ANC 2E were currently available for vehicles without Zone 2 stickers. In addition, he asked for an analysis of the impact on certain residential areas.
“There are numbers you would think we already had,” Murphy told The Georgetowner afterward.
Within minutes, the commission voted down Wilcox’s proposed notice of intent and approved of the Murphy resolution. Some observers said afterwards that it was a kind of progress.