Here are some common myths: George Washington had wooden teeth — and Alexandria doesn’t have a parking problem.
On Jan. 20 the City Council will take up a proposal to reduce the requirement for city businesses to provide parking. It’s just the latest in a series of misguided steps the city has taken to make it harder for residents and guests to find parking. The city’s bases its proposal on two facts that are just as correct as the belief that George Washington had wooden teeth: that more people are relying on public transportation and that parking is underutilized in Alexandria.
According to a December 2017 Washington Post report, Metro reports ridership is not up, but down to 615,000 average weekday trips — about 135,000 fewer than 2009 peaks. Weekday bus ridership is similarly down 8 percent year-over-year, according to the latest statistics. So, despite our earnest desire for it to be otherwise, less people are using public transportation in our area than they did in 2009.
The other point the city uses to support the proposal to reduce parking are surveys they have done which point to underutilized parking garages and spaces in Alexandria. But, when you actually look at the survey you discover that most of the surveys looked at paid lots and spaces. So, the city discovered that garages that often charge over $16 per day were underutilized. Shockingly it seems, people actually prefer not to pay for parking. So, instead of using paid spaces, guests to Old Town and other high use areas seek spaces in no-cost residential areas, not surveyed. Why weren’t the residential areas surveyed? Because we already know that answer — parking in Old Town is a nightmare.
Further the proposal doesn’t take into account previously approved city decisions which will greatly affect parking in Old Town including closing the usually full lot across from Chadwick’s at 201 The Strand to make way for the waterfront development, adding dozens of new townhomes and businesses in the area with city-approved parking reductions, and moving pay parking further and further into residential areas.
For the record, George Washington’s dentures were made from human, and probably cow and horse teeth, ivory (possibly elephant), lead-tin alloy, copper alloy (possibly brass), and silver alloy. Let’s be similarly accurate about Alexandria’s true parking situation.