Big changes — tough new restrictions and enforcement — could be coming to curbside parking in the District.
For all you casual drivers, a lot of curbside parking may disappear, especially downtown. Or, it may become so expensive it’ll force private cars like yours into parking garages.
Delivery trucks that now park most anywhere and at any time could face higher, prohibitive fines if they fail to use loading zone spaces. All sorts of illegal truck and bus parking is a problem all over the city, not just downtown.
Illegal parking in rush-hour lanes by anyone — morning and night — could be met with tougher fines and quicker towing. (Your Notebook has regularly complained about the absence of rush-hour enforcement.)
Ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and even conventional taxicabs may get pickup and drop-off spots rather than the Wild West system now in play where everyone and anyone parks willy-nilly.
Commuter and tourist buses may find they can’t just park in any lane at any time.
Even the city’s laughable non-enforcement of illegal parking in bike lanes could change.
All this is from D.C. Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo — whose last day on the job is this Friday. He disclosed the broad outline of these coming changes on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU Politics Hour.
The plan is “already underway in terms of development,” Dormsjo said in response to our well-worn complaints that the city has given up on traffic enforcement, especially during morning and evening rush hours. Dormsjo said, “There’s going to be a proposal this fall that focuses not just on [changes in the law] but … opportunities to really dedicate city personnel to that traffic enforcement function.”
Dormsjo said Mayor Muriel Bowser asked him and other department heads to come up with a plan to attack traffic problems. Dormsjo said he didn’t want to get ahead of Bowser’s final decisions and announcement later this fall, but he acknowledged that the level of enforcement — which is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works — has fallen behind his own agency’s successful efforts to change signal-timing on hundreds of traffic lights, to restripe lanes for better flow, and to reconstruct intersections and bike lanes to minimize backups and safety concerns.
Private car parking in curb lanes could face dramatic change. This growing city can’t let hundreds of thousands of cars just park like it’s Sunday afternoon.
“I think the whole way we envision the use of the curbside is going to change,” Dormsjo said. “And I frankly think that, whether it’s ride-hailing services or trucks making deliveries or postal carriers, we’re probably going to use our curbside spaces for those types of users — and people who are just driving in and out of the city are really going to have to park in a garage.”
To make that happen, he said, “the pricing and regulation of those spaces have to evolve to meet the modern transportation that we have. There should be a shift .. .that you’ll see in the character of our curbsides.”
He suggested that some changes could be immediate, but the ultimate makeover of the city’s street space could take several years.
■ Redskins vs. Ravens. The first preseason game is Thursday night in Baltimore. It’s a new season for the ’Skins, the fifth-most-valuable team in the NFL. Whatever lies ahead, the team begins the 2017 season out of the legal shadows over its name. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that trademark names can’t be taken away, or denied, just because they’re seen as offensive to some.
That legal case is over, but the name controversy is expected to linger. Owner Dan Snyder is trying to figure out where he might build a new stadium. Mayor Bowser and other city leaders want Snyder to build at the old RFK site. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is lobbying for the team to head to his state. He’d like a deal done — or at least announced — before he leaves office in January.
McAuliffe says the team name is not an issue in Virginia. But District officials and D.C. Council members could hamper any move to D.C. because of the name.
But Snyder holds an ace in the Trump administration. The RFK site is controlled by the federal government. Under President Obama, the Interior Department indicated it wasn’t interested in dealing with the team given the name controversy. That likely won’t be a problem under Trump.
■ And finally … A nice moment here in the District last Saturday night. Former D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania wed his longtime partner, William “Billy” Enright. The two exchanged vows at the National Museum of Women in the Arts downtown. Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh officiated. A large crowd toasted the couple and wished them well.
As an at-large council member in 2009, Catania authored the bill to establish same-sex marriages in the District. Despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church and other groups, the bill easily passed in December that year and became law in early 2010. Only a few states had yet legalized equal marriage. Many thought Congress might intervene and block the city law, but it did not. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage, nullifying state laws and constitutional amendments against it.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
Congrats to Billy and David.
Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.