Today in the Washington Examiner, Liz Essley writes that “For D.C., ‘there will never be enough parking'” quoting Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6.
Nobody argues that parking in Washington is easily found, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
Here’s a simple, mid-term solution: relax the city’s unnecessary building height limits.
Regular readers of this blog know that I generally view these restrictions as arbitrary and harmful. (I acknowledge and understand why people want to preserve the mall, for movies I guess, but there’s no reason I need to see the cathedrals from Alexandria.)
Parking lots, in this town, are often built underground. This is quite costly. The reason is simple, since building heights are restricted, builders and proprietors do not want to waste precious above ground space on parking.
The EPA notes:
Underground parking structures are more costly to construct than above-ground structures because of the added expense of excavation and required engineering.
And that makes perfect sense. Many buildings house parking on the second and third floor, leaving the first floor to commercial space and entrances to buildings. However, given the current restrictions, people face a choice between underground parking or forgoing building their own parking all together.
That should free up space on public streets over time, and it will allow the city to grow in a way where rents are likely slightly cheaper. Just a thought.