Mayor Gray Eyes Performance Parking Funds to Salvage Metro Budget Crisis -Wells Prepares Counter Move to Keep Capitol Hill Funds for Ward 6
by Larry Janezich
For the past several years, Capitol Hill has received money from the Performance Parking Transportation Fund, which collects parking fees from specially designated areas and uses that money for non-automotive transportation projects in the community.
The PPF was originally instituted in 2008 to manage curbside parking around National Ballpark. The concept involves varying the parking rate according to demand and is marked by the singular large parking kiosks, one on each side of the block. Any monies accruing to the program in excess of the level which would have accrued had the “stick” meters remained in place go back to the community in the form of non-automotive transportation projects.
Examples of PPF projects on Capitol Hill include the Big Belly Solar Powered Trash Compactors, ornate metal benches, Capitol Hill Historic Disc signs, and ornate bike racks for Barracks Row, Pennsylvania Avenue and Southwest DC
According to ANC6B Commissioner Brian Pate, there is currently $3.5 million in the fund in the city’s Performance Parking Fund.
The cash resource has now caught the eye of Mayor Gray, according Charles Allen, chief of staff for Tommy Wells who attended last night’s ANC 6B Transportation Committee. A move to redirect PPF funds to other purposes would be in keeping with Gray’s decision last year to use the PPF money to help balance the budget. Now Gray is looking again to the Performance Parking Program as a source of income. For the new Fiscal Year beginning October 1, Gray’s budget proposes sweeping up all of the unobligated funds in the PPF and similar accounts and using it to subsidize WAMATA. As many readers may already be aware, the federal government has proposed dramatic cuts to its funding of Metro rail, despite the fact that many of its employees rely upon it in order to commute to work.
Gray has also proposed extending the PPF throughout the city and using those funds as well as future funds from the existing programs on Capitol Hill near the Ballpark, on Barracks Row, and on H Street to subsidize WAMATA, in effect changing what was once a ward-by-ward funding process into a general city revenue to fund public transportation.
There are four Capitol Hill non-automotive projects in the pipeline: the information kiosk at Eastern Market Metro Plaza, landscaping for the Plaza, a CHAW signage project, and new sidewalks on the east side of Garfield Park. These would not be affected, but funds accruing to the project in the future would go to WAMATA under Gray’s proposal.
On Thursday, Councilmember Wells will attempt to grandfather the Performance Parking Funds for the National Ballpark, Capitol Hill, and H Street, NE, thus preserving those funds for community use alone. The transportation budget will come up in Councilmember Mary Cheh’s Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation, which is comprised of Cheh, and Councilmembers Wells, Alexander, Bowser, and Graham. Wells reportedly has the support of Cheh and Graham for his budget amendment. The proposal will then have to be passed by the Committee of the Whole and the full Council.