Your Gov't At Work: Making It Even Harder to Park
Just when you thought it was becoming necessary to have an advanced degree in urban parking to find a space in downtown Washington, now comes the D.C. government to make it even harder.
The District has just published proposed valet parking regulations--a true sign of the gentrifying times, now that valet parking is sweeping across the core of the city--that would strip away an untold but very large number of parking spaces that until now were available to the taxpayers. The regulations would give restaurants, bars and the like the chance to grab curbside parking spaces and claim them entirely as their own, for use as staging areas for valet parking.
Of course, there's no problem whatsoever with the existing lack of regulation--valets simply step up to customers' cars that are momentarily double-parked and whisk the vehicle away to whatever garage they've rented spaces in. But the city--perhaps eager to snare some rental fees from restaurants--now proposes to charge establishments $15 per foot to rent public parking spaces, which would then be declared No Parking zones for actual taxpayers who are not shelling out the big money for valet service.
This is part of a continuing effort to hand public parking spaces over to private businesses for their own profit. First, it was the decision to give public spaces to Zipcar and Flexcar, the car-sharing businesses that are increasingly popular in the city. Those are at least businesses that may have a beneficial impact on reducing traffic--many city dwellers find that they can rely exclusively on car-sharing and don't need to own and park a car of their own. So there's at least some justification for using public space in that case.
But in the case of valet parking, there is no social good that comes from delivering public spaces into the hands of for-profit businesses. Those restaurants will offer valet service whether or not the city gives them low-rate public space. Customers surely don't care whether they hand over their keys at the curb or while double-parked. So the only benefit is for the convenience of the businesses.
Luckily, there's still time to stop this giveaway. You can email your views to email@example.com and also let your council member and the Mayor-Almost Elect know what you think.
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