Dear PoP – What’s Up With DC USA’s New Parking Policy?

City Mall, originally uploaded by M.V. Jantzen.

“Dear PoP,

So what gives with the new parking policy at DC USA? They no longer allow motorcycles or scooters to park in the actual garage. Instead you have to enter by the Park Street entrance and park up on one of the sidewalks where there’s a security guard to watch over the motorcycles and scooters. That wouldn’t be bad except that (1) you then have to walk all the way around to get into the building, and (2) it always seems to be raining when I’m doing this. The first couple times the security guards wouldn’t give me an answer when I’d ask why I couldn’t just park my Vespa in the garage. All they’d say is that I shouldn’t be complaining because now I can park for free. One of the guards I spoke with today said something about DC USA’s insurance no longer covering motorcycle or scooter parking in the garage. I’m assuming this is because there’ve been a number of thefts.

Have you heard anything about this policy? On the one hand, I guess I’m happy that they’re trying to prevent further thefts of motorcycles and scooters. But I sure wish there were a way to do this and still allow people to park in the actual garage, not around the corner. And the whole thing would go down smoother if the security guards did a better job of communicating what was going on. All they do is scream at you that you can’t park in the garage and that you have to park around the corner. And to top it off, they seem put off by the fact that people might have any questions about this policy. I mean, it’s pretty strange when you try to park in a parking garage and they tell you can’t, but they don’t give any further explanation. It made me feel like *I* was the criminal, and it sure didn’t make me want to go inside and spend my money there.”

Anyone familiar with this new policy? I thought they had like a million parking spots in this complex?

19 Comment

  • Being screamed at–is that really surprising in this town? I would reason to guess that those (probably) $8/hour security guards are probably not kept in the loop as to the various insurance minutae of the building they guard. OTH, it probably feels pretty good to dress down some yuppie chick on a Vespa now and then.

  • This was brought up on the Columbia Heights listserv. They claimed [or rather DCUSA’s mouthpiece Jim Graham relayed] that the boom/arm of the parking garage gate wouldn’t recognize motorcycles/scooters because of their lighter weight. This turned out to be complete BS because like every other parking garage built in the last few decades it uses an inductive loop sensor, which can be calibrated for everything from bicycles to steel-toed boots. Considering a boat-load of our tax money went to build/fund this garage, it’s kinda wrong that we [motorcyclists] can’t park in it. All that said I have a hard time getting too bent out of shape about this [I just like pointing out gov’t/corporate BS] since in the end we get to park for free, but I’ve been riding long enough here to just expect to be treated like garbage by the city.

  • get a car, hippy

  • This parking garage is such an epic waste of space at this point. Has ANYONE involved with the city or DCUSA given creative thought as to how to utilize it? How about using the lower level for really cheap monthly parking for area residents (like say 50 bucks a month)? Or making it much cheaper on a daily / monthly basis to try to attract commuters from Maryland who want a much quicker metro ride (would of course need to be marketed) I mean they blew getting a Whole Foods in because of parking stubbornness, and now it just sits there, and they can’t even bother to make it available to people who might be able to use it. Yes, there might be extra security costs, but revenues from, I don’t know, actually being used could cover that. Just ridiculous.

  • This makes no sense. Whenever I use that garage it is mostly empty. They should be encouraging anyone and anything to park there!

  • They won’t let me park Flossy and the buckboard there either.

  • $50 a MONTH FOR PARKING NEXT TO A METRO? Try $175 per month, that’s the cheapest monthly parking for downtown DC.

  • New2CH, I kinda hate your idea of inviting commuters to park in DCUSA. As if that intersection of 14th and Park Road weren’t bad enough? Cheap parking for local residents, that I can get on board with.

  • I’m the guy who wrote the above letter.

    I realize that when bystanders are getting shot in broad daylight in Columbia Heights, some motorcycle/scooter parking issues at the local mall might not seem like a big deal. And in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t. That’s why I hesitated before even contacting PoP.

    But if this is an example of DC USA’s broader management skills….well, it should send shivers down the spines of everyone who wants this mall, built with taxpayer assistance, to succeed as an anchor for the neighborhood. Any place that can’t figure out a less alienating way of keeping vehicles from being stolen (if indeed that’s the problem) is probably not going to be good at the other aspects of retail management, either. And that’s a real shame.

  • saf

    That garage has had “No motorcycle” signs since it opened. Most of the parking garages in DC do. They claim it’s because the arm can’t see bikes. I think it’s because the just don’t want bikes – we have different needs than cars, and that confuses them.

  • The policy seems absurd, but where were the security guards in the garage before. They always seem to be around, the elevator area, is it that hard to spot someone trying to steal a bike.

    Until the building is fully leased, I would assume you will see no alternative use to the parking garage’s lower level. Maybe the second floor will be dedicated parking to get leverage for a tenant in the space on Irving…

  • Fair point on the commuters adding to traffic, but the very least, make it available on the cheap to Ward One residents. I mean, why have the space just sitting there in a dense urban environment? If you make leases month-to-month, the space can later be made available to businesses should additional need arise. But, considering there have been NO new businesses in the last year, and there is no indication that DCUSA has any plan to attract additional businesses in a very competitive climate (even though adjacent landlords, like Donatelli, have had slightly better “luck” or as I’d call it, “giving a crap,”), this space is likely to remain totally empty for at least a year or two (and maybe indefinitely depending on how parking-intensive future businesses are), so why just leave the space to rot in the meantime?

    Has anyone talked to CM Graham about this — he was pretty involved with DCUSA. Maybe several of us can write him?

  • Can’t we just drop the Whole Foods whine finally? It has been gone over and over and over. Because of the public funding that DC USA received, they cannot have dedicated parking spots for any single retail tenant. Whole Foods will not move into a space without dedicated parking spots. And that is the end of that. It was the deal breaker two years ago and it still is. It probably always will be. It has nothing whatsoever to do with motorcycle parking.

    The issue of the gate opening for motorcycles is not unique to DC USA or even to DC. Just do a google search and you will find the same problem in NYC, SF, and LA. The main culprit is the mechanical arms that don’t recognize the vehicle. In New York someone has even tried to get legislation passed requiring publicly funded parking garages allow motorcycles–to no avail. Because it is an equipment problem not a policy problem. So just get used to parking around the corner or get a car.

  • Sorry, anonymous, this is definitely NOT an equipment problem–at least not at DC USA. I parked my motorcycle in their garage for months without ever having an issue at all. I don’t recall ever seeing any “no motorcycle” signs, and no security guard ever stopped me. Unless their technology somehow regressed in recent weeks, this is not an equipment malfunction.

    Assuming this is actually about motorcycle/scooter thefts (which it sounds like it is), why not just have dedicated parking for 2 wheeled vehicles right next to the elevator, and have 1 guard posted there? It’d be cheaper than posting guards at each of the entrances.

  • Just because you personally didn’t experience equipment problems doesn’t mean others didn’t.

  • That’s true. But c’mon, this is a brand new garage. If it’s equipment problems, then they should fix them. Just seems like there should be a better solution here.

  • as said earlier, this is not an equipment problem unique to DC USA or DC. It is a problem everywhere. what are you going to do? legislate to force some manufacturer to make something to suit your lifestyle choices? get over it already.

  • I’ve found that induction loops are usually not calibrated to acknowledge motorcycles – more of a problem for me at stoplights in Virginia than parking garage barriers (which I just drive around if they won’t open).

    Somewhat annoying that they are actively discouraging motorcyclists and scooters though. Why not just ignore them like everyone else does.

  • “(which I just drive around if they won’t open).”

    There’s the answer. I’m sure the garage management doesn’t want to give up space within the garage to motorcycles and scooters when these vehicles can easily navigate around the system designed to make sure they pay for the space they use. Don’t hate me, I’m just sayin.

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