As D.C. Grows, Should Car Use Shrink?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For the first time in decades, the District is rewriting its zoning laws. Big changes are coming to how people get around in the city. A plan by the city to sharply reduce the dependency on private automobiles has some people cheering and others complaining about a "war on cars." News 4's Tom Sherwood reports on the strong reactions to the plan. (Published Sunday, Jul 7, 2013)

    The District is set to experience an urban boom, adding an extra 200,000 people to the city's population of 635,000 in the next 20 years.

    "The city will be [horrible] to live and work if every single one of those people comes with their own vehicle," D.C. Planning Director Harriett Tregoning said.

    Tregoning is overseeing the first rewrite of the city's zoning laws in decades - planning for more housing in off-street areas like alleys, and curtailing mandatory parking requirements.

    About 35 percent of District residents don't own cars - many use services like Zip Car for brief rentals.

    "That parking is going to spill over in the residential communities and it will damage the quality of life," Lon Anderson with AAA said. "There is an effort here to significantly reduce driving in D.C. and we worry about that."

    Tregoning told News4's Tom Sherwood household size has dropped in half in recent decades. Different modes of transportation are available while cars remain parked 90 percent of the time.

    "It doesn't make any sense for us to have a set of choices and a built environment that is geared entirely to the automobile," Tregoning said.

    There will be more public hearings before any new rules go into effect.

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