Parking in Georgetown: Let’s Line Up the Numbers

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As Originally Proposed, Georgetown Could Have Lost Up to 2,000 Visitor Spots

In this issue, The Georgetowner celebrates the well-known residents and homes of Georgetown. All things real estate, home décor and architecture are certainly close to most of our neighbors’ hearts. But there is one topic that almost beats them all, uniting resident and visitor alike in endless discussions: parking.

The debate began yet again at the Feb. 26 meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which devoted more than an hour to parking and, not surprisingly, attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Different proposals by commissioners led to an ANC resolution that called for more discussion. The decision was made not to submit to the District Department of Transportation an official notice of intent regarding modifications to Georgetown’s parking regs.

For many, who oppose major changes, that was a big “whew!” One of several opinions heard there and elsewhere was that the proposed changes were “a solution in search of a problem.”

Business owners are sensitive to any parking revamp that could discourage visitors to Georgetown. All are well aware of the town’s struggle to maintain and attract substantial retail and restaurant brands, local or not, that enhance the quality of life for everyone.

Whether the plan is to mandate a split-sided system, in which only residents may park on one side of the street — dubbed Enhanced Resident Preferred Parking by DDOT and in effect in Ward 1 — or to install parking meters or ticket machines in front of homes, residents and businesspersons need to weigh in.

That’s the point. If you’re going to make changes, many more discussions and town meetings — highly publicized and as transparent as possible — need to occur. Commissioner Jim Wilcox’s proposal seemed cumbersome at first glance: a sector one along Wisconsin Avenue and below M Street with paid timed parking, a sector two that has some paid parking and a sector three in the northern half of Georgetown and Burleith that leaves the parking arrangement as it is today. [See news story on page 5.]

At the ANC meeting, it appeared that most of the audience was opposed to any major changes. Noting that Georgetown had been talking about parking for years, Billy Martin of Martin’s Tavern opposed the Wilcox plan: “There are lots of concerns and controversial questions in it … a lot is not there.” Resident Debbie Winsor warned of “unintended consequences.”

There’s a lot more to this story — we will be writing in the next issue about the Georgetown parking group, which has been meeting for more than 10 years — and more to discuss and analyze. To do so, we need to line up hard numbers. According to the Georgetown Business Improvement District, the plan as originally proposed would have resulted in up to 2,000 public spaces on the streets becoming unavailable to Georgetown visitors.

Of course, we know other disagreeable topics exist in our urban lives, such as crime and rodents, but let’s agree to follow through on this parking mess — before the meter runs out.

 

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