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Adams Morgan Residents Confused by New Law for Ward 1 Parking Plan; Neither Council Member Nor DDOT Satisfy Doubts

By Anthony L. Harvey

Images accompanying this feature can be viewed in the current issue PDF

In keeping with the complexities and contradictions of DC parking rules and regulation, the DC City Council recently passed — in final form –- “emergency” legislation creating an enhanced residential parking program (ERPP) for the residential blocks in Ward One’s advisory neighborhood commissions’ boundaries.

The District’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) has now published in the DC Municipal Regulations (DCMR) final rules for this program’s implementation, having earlier issued draft rules and regulation for public comment and Council review.

The intent of the legislation has been strongly endorsed by its supporters — primarily the legislation’s author, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, several past and present advisory neighborhood commissioners, and by residents hoping the measure will improve their chances of finding on-street parking and that the new program’s visitor passes will simplify their receiving guests arriving by car at their Adams Morgan residences.

Strenuous opposition, however, has been expressed by many residents and business owners who contend that too little is known about the program, and that its implementation in its present form would further exacerbate Adams Morgan parking problems and not provide the relief sought by its proponents.

Whatever the good intentions of the authors of this legislation, and that of the drafters of the language of its implementing regulation, the confusion and contradictions inherent in the incompleteness and ambiguities in these documents and their respective provisions bedeviled participants at the Adams Morgan ANC’s January community forum on the topic and during its subsequent consideration at its February monthly meeting.

Based on a close reading of the legislation and regulation, these contradictions are apparent in the initial provision of the statute which states, “Any Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) may, by resolution of that ANC, vote to include blocks within the ANC in the Program” and with the stipulation in the final regulation promulgated by DDOT that requires only the absence of a formal ANC vote on the program to deem the inclusion of all Adams Morgan residential blocks in the program. One votes to “opt in” under the terms of the statute; one is deemed to be included unless one “opts out” under the terms of the regulation.

Further, DDOT officials who were at the ANC’s community forum were silent on the question of providing the ANC with a map of which blocks would be eligible for the new program, seemingly because of the statute’s stipulation that the ANC’s action required the opting in of only specified blocks while the DDOT regulation deals with all residential blocks within the individual ANC boundaries. And even this was unclear when this initiative was being considered by the ANC at its January community forum and February monthly meeting.

Apparently, only blocks zoned residential and deemed eligible for the existing RPP program would be eligible for the Enhanced RPP program (ERPP) — thus rendering ineligible residents on blocks of large apartment buildings in mixed residential/commercial zones; on metered commercial corridors; or on boundary streets such as Columbia Road, 16th and 18th Streets, and Connecticut Avenue.

Also confusing is the question of whether one must be a resident on an RPP-eligible block with a parking sticker on a DC registered vehicle to qualify for the ERPP program — which carries with it a coveted annually-issued visitor parking pass. This question was answered in a number of very different ways by Graham and the DDOT officials.

Further, whether or not this new program would supersede the police department’s two-week visitor pass procedure was answered at the community forum, first by with a “yes” and then later, “no.” As the  forum session was winding down, Chief Ike’s Mambo Room proprietor and Ontario Road resident Al Jirikovic asked that everyone who was confused raise their hand, whereupon an overwhelming majority immediately did so.

At its February meeting that followed the community forum a few days later, the ANC sought to resolve the matter by creating — according to proponents — an opportunity for the community to try the new program and experience its effects. It was thought that this would answer a number of questions: For example, would several thousand of unexpected annual visitors passes be issued creating more stress on existing street parking; would a commercial market in the sale of visitor passes be created; would apartment dwellers residing on, for example, Columbia Road, 16th and 18th Streets, and Connecticut Avenue be frozen out of all parts of this new program, including that of being issued the annual visitor passes; why were there no provisions for charging fees for these new visitor parking passes; and why was there no ANC map highlighting all provisions of this far reaching new program?

ANC Chair Wilson Reynolds offered a resolution proposing that the Adams Morgan ANC endorse this new parking program and that it request DDOT “to implement the Enhanced Residential Parking Program within the boundaries of ANC 1C as soon as possible.” After amendments asking for information were discussed at length, Reynolds’ resolution was overwhelmingly defeated and a substitute measure by ANC Secretary Kathie Boettrich asking that DDOT explain to the ANC the regulation being proposed, including definitions and eligibility criteria, and the date when “opting out” would no longer be possible. Boettrich’s resolution, which provided for neither “opting in” nor “opting out,” was overwhelmingly passed.

Ward 1’s Adams Morgan is adjacent to Ward 2 and Ward 3; Ward 3 has a similar pilot program ward-wide, according to Graham, as well as there being “very successful programs” in Ward 1’s Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods.

In conversation with The InTowner, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans spoke of his having no knowledge of any movement in his ward for such a program, and reported that he had heard not a single complaint since the area around the Convention Center in the Mt. Vernon Square section of Shaw instituted a 24/7 residential parking permit restriction on single sides of selected residential blocks where residents had been consistently unable to find parking spaces at any time of the day or night. “It seems to have solved the problem,” Evans said.

And Ward 1 Mt. Pleasant ANC Commissioner Jack McKay reported that after a pilot program — one which the Adams Morgan ANC would be required to emulate if such a program were adopted in that ANC — the Mt. Pleasant ANC voted to opt out of the program, except for the visitor pass provision. The option of opting in or out of individual provisions was not afforded in the legislation establishing the provisions for an Adams Morgan ANC Enhanced Residential Parking Program.