Mr. Mayor: Get the Zoning Revisions Right!

Parking Policies

The Committee of 100 supports a revision of the current zoning regulations that will produce:


What is the parking problem for DC residents?  While on-street parking remains constant or shrinks, the number of registered vehicles in DC is going up – by 3.5% just between 2010 and 2012. Nearly 300,000 vehicles are registered in DC, not counting cars belonging to resident diplomats, military personnel, college students, and others who are either exempted from the need to register or who have failed to register their vehicles in DC. In addition, over half-a-million commuters enter DC each day, and that number will continue to increase as the District works to create 100,000 new jobs over the next five years.  The needs of both residents and commuters for parking -- as well as the needs of tourists, visitors, trades people, and service providers -- must be factored into decisions about the parking supply in the District.

The Mayor’s parking proposals make residents bear the brunt of the problem by

·         Letting developers off the hook from providing onsite parking, a mistake than cannot later be fixed;

·         Reducing requirements for institutions – schools, churches, performance venues – to provide parking;

·         Imposing “one size fits all” parking policies without regard to a neighborhood’s location, demographics or existing conditions, or the needs of people at different stages of life, that will increase spillover parking from commercial areas;

·         Creating hardships for residents who need cars and cannot rely only on public transportation, and for those with no alternative to on-street parking; and

·         Undermining citizen engagement by transferring power to developers and unelected planning officials.



Current Zoning

Proposed Zoning

New detached, semi-detached, or row houses

Developer/owner must provide one onsite parking space per dwelling.

Developer/owner would not have to provide any onsite parking.  Owners may remove or repurpose existing garages or parking spaces.

Small apartment buildings (fewer than 11 units)

Developers/owners of all newly-constructed apartment buildings must provide on-site parking spaces, typically one space for every one or two units.

Developer/owner would not have to provide any onsite parking for a building with fewer than 11 units, regardless of location.


                04-09-13                                                                                                                                                                (Over)

Apartment buildings (11 units or larger)

Developer/owner of all new apartment buildings, must provide on-site parking spaces, typically one space for every 2-4 units, with the lowest ratio required for the largest buildings, which are generally near multiple transit.

If the building is located downtown or in a transit zone (i.e. within ½ a mile of a Metrorail station or ¼ a mile of a major bus line), the developer would not have to provide any onsite parking. Outside these areas, the developer would be required to provide 1 space for every 4 units above 9. 

Churches and private schools, institutions, hospitals and hotels

Various businesses and institutions must provide parking based on the number of people that their facilities can hold at one time.

Most parking requirements would be reduced substantially and based only on the number of square feet in the facility.  No on-site parking would be required downtown or in transit zones.

Business establishments

Developer/owner must provide parking based on square footage, type of business, zone, and proximity to multiple transit routes.

Downtown and in transit zones, no on-site parking will be required for any use. 

Elsewhere, on-site parking requirements will be lowered throughout the city.


What should the Mayor do to get the zoning revisions right?

Right-size off-street parking to provide access to businesses and residences, minimize congestion associated with people searching for parking, and maintain neighborhood character. Rule changes, where necessary, should acknowledge unique parking demands, take account of the limits of current public transit options, balance property owner responsibility to provide supply for created demand, and meet environmental standards. 

New zoning regulations should:

·         Retain existing requirements for the provision of off-street multifamily residential parking.

·         Facilitate shared parking across uses and across buildings through a special exception process.

·         Allow developers to rent out unused spaces to the public by certifying that building users do not need these spaces.

·         Ensure that future reductions be geographically-based (rather than zone-based) and permitted only when area-specific data demonstrates that existing requirements have created excess parking.



Write to Mayor Gray.  Tell him to:

Send to:  The Honorable Vincent Gray, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 316, Washington, DC 20004