When I first came into my role as Executive Director for CHAMPS I was honestly quite surprised that the issue of parking came up almost immediately…and then continued to arise. I’ve heard from business owners seeking greater access to parking for themselves, their employees, and their customers. I’ve heard from residents who live in close proximity to our neighborhood businesses concerned at their lack of easeful parking due to inner ward commuter parking and folks parking to frequent our businesses.
As a Capitol Hill resident since 1999 and a Capitol Hill small business owner since 2009, I have happily lived and worked in close enough proximity to walk to work. My husband bikes or takes the metro downtown daily and our family car stays parked in front on our home most of the time. This is a lifestyle I’m priveledged to have and to have chosen.
But I get that it’s just not that easy for everyone. The majority of the work force that keep our neighborhood businesses going often can not afford to live on Capitol Hill. When walking, biking, and metro are not feasible, what else can we do?
Earlier this year Councilmembers White, Nadeau, and Todd introduced the Small Business Parking Permit Act though it was quickly demonized by residents and later withdrawn. CHAMPS had engaged in the effort to suggest ways to make the legislation more viable, but to no avail.
And really when you think of it our streets are already crunched for parking. Where would we all fit? Barracks Row alone has over 150 businesses and a work force of over 1000 people on the street at any given time. Should even a small portion of those receive a parking pass for the already crowded neighborhood streets how do we all fit?
So on to Plan B. CHAMPS suggests letting us know if your member business is looking for a regular parking spot for the business owner or employees. One by one CHAMPS will compile the neighborhood alley spaces and commuter parking lots (small and big) open for monthly rental. Reach out and lets see what is possible.
For our small business customers the work may be less about parking but about making our walkable zones more appealing. Capitol Hill is both our neighborhood and a destination. I live on Capitol Hill because I love to walk the neighborhood. I know the prettiest blocks and I also know the blocks I simply “get through.” I believe its on all of us as business organizations, business owners, and neighborhood residents to improve.
CHAMPS supports the redevelopment of Eastern Market Metro Plaza with funds committed in the 2018 budget. There will be time before this comes. But more quickly the Hine project will come on board with short term parking that should alleviate some strain in the Eastern Market / Barracks Row area.
No perfect, quick or miracle solutions. Maybe we implore a little tactical urbanism on solutions that could be quick when done ourselves. I’ve learned that I could spend 40 hours a week delving into parking issues and that there is no easy way to win with everybody (or even two people at once). But lets keep talking!
I do also know our contractor based businesses would like to see the implementation of legislation previously passed that allows for day pass parking permit purchases for contractor. More to come!