There is a pretty good chance that D.C. residents will be paying more for their parking permits next year. While a price hike was already on the table in Mayor Vincent Gray's proposed budget, Council Member Tommy Wells has proposed to go even higher - with a fee schedule that could have some households paying as much as $100 per car for a parking permit.
Wells, who heads the Council's Public Works and Transportation committee, wants to raise the cost of a residential parking permit, now $15 annually for an unlimited number of cars, up to $35. After that, a permit for the second car in the household would cost $50, and then additional vehicles would be $100.
"We have a challenge to fully fund Metro without raising fares," Wells said in a statement. This year, public transporation is facing a multi-million dollar shortfall.
He said his permit price increase a "win-win" in a recent Washington Post op-ed.
"Increasing parking permit fees would benefit all D.C. residents. My proposal would contribute an estimated $1.1 million to public transportation operations — about $670,000 to WMATA and $435,000 to the D.C. Circulator — enhancing transit options while reducing pollution and traffic congestion."
Wells argues that by raising the rate of a permit for additional vehicles, drivers who do not really need a car will be discouraged from parking, which in turn would free up more space in neighborhoods. He said that this leads to cleaner air, because residents won't be taking extra laps around the block in search of a spot.
In his proposed budget, Mayor Vincent Gray would like to push the permit price up to $25, and he also wants to double the price of Circulator bus rides from $1 to $2.
Wells thinks that after last year's Metro fare increases, its not fair to place more burden on riders again. He argued in the Post:
"Transit riders are doing their part. Last year’s WMATA fare increase cost the typical bus rider an extra $115 a year and the typical rail rider $190 a year — far more than the average proposed residential parking fee increase."
On Tuesday, the Council will take these choices up, in the first of two votes on the 2012 city budget. The second vote, which will finalize the spending plan, will take place in two weeks.