Most DC residents don’t drive to work. Instead, they ride transit, bicycle, or walk. In fact, 18% of DC residents walk or bicycle to work, 37% take transit, and only 34% drive alone.
But when an employer offers a commuter subsidy benefit, it’s usually for driving and parking. Even when a subsidy is available for transit, it’s usually much less than the value of the parking benefit. And employee benefits for walking and bicycling are either nothing or pale in comparison to parking benefits.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to give employees a flexible commuter benefit -- a choice?
Instead of a take-it-or-leave-it parking benefit, flexible commuter benefits make sure that employers give their employees the choice to use the parking benefit, or take the cash equivalent to get to work another way, whether that’s transit, walking, or by bicycle.
Here’s what the Transportation Benefits Equity Act does:
The Transportation Benefits Equity Act would mandate that if a DC employer provides a subsidized parking benefit, it must also offer the employee the equivalent value in transit benefits or taxable cash instead of parking. Specifically, where employers provide parking benefits, they would also have to offer:
- Employer-paid transit benefit. If the transit benefit is less than the value of the parking benefit, then the employee receives the balance in taxable cash up to the value of the parking benefit.
- Employer-paid, tax-free bicycle commuting benefit up to the federally-allowable $20/month expense reimbursement, plus taxable cash up to the value of the parking benefit.
- Taxable cash for employees walking to work, equal to the value of the parking benefit.
In short, the law would prohibit DC employers from discriminating against non-drivers in the commuter benefits they offer.
If passed, this bill would be a national model for incentivizing sustainable commuter benefits and reducing traffic congestion. Can you help make sure it’s passed? Tell the DC Council you want a flexible benefit for sustainable commutes.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the DC officials to pass this bill to make commuter benefits more flexible for everyone. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
What if I told you there is one thing that can reduce the cost of housing and encourage residents to walk, bike, and ride transit? It’s not magic, it’s parking reform!
Reforming the amount of required parking in a development can do a ton to make an area more affordable, walkable, and transit-friendly – and that’s exactly what Arlington County wants to do. Tell County staff that you support the reforms.
Arlington County is well known for its great transit-oriented development and support of more biking and walking. But the county has retained high parking requirements that undermine its good work promoting more sustainable lifestyles. Now a county workgroup has recommended a range of reforms that are important steps in the right direction.
Of those recommendations, we think the county should support the following reforms:
- Lower parking minimums: The work group proposed two ranges for lower parking minimums for sites near Metro. The county should choose the lowest recommended range. For buildings that provide too much parking, mitigation should be required. Affordable housing should have even smaller parking minimums.
- Biking and carshare: The county should allow exchanging parking spaces for biking, Capital Bikeshare, and carshare and have even lower minimums for building for Capital Bikeshare stations.
- Flexibility: The county should allow on- and off-site sharing of parking and flexibility if it’s hard to create parking because the building site is small or difficult.
These reforms would be a big step in the right direction for Arlington. They will make easier all the county’s efforts to create more sustainable, walkable and transit-oriented places.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the Arlington officials to pass parking reforms. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Last fall, we won big when the Zoning Commission adopted a policy to make inclusionary zoning units more affordable. But, before the program can take effect on June 5, the Mayor and Council need to tweak the current law to make sure it can fully implement the new program.
The hearing to amend the law on IZ is on April 10. Email the Mayor and Council now to ensure that the new IZ program will be implemented without delay and help meet the city’s need for more affordable housing.
In October, the Zoning Commission agreed with advocates and finalized new rules for IZ that require most new residential developments to provide IZ rental units affordable at 60% of median family income, and all condos at 80% median family income. The set asides remain the same – 8-10% of the total number of units. This change will generate over 2600 apartments available to low-income families over the next five to 10 years
In order for these new rules to take effect, the Mayor and DC Council need to make a few important changes to the existing IZ law and implementing regulations, all in time for the new rules to go into effect by June 5, which in government terms, is very soon.
On April 10 there will be a hearing for the bill introduced by DC Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Chairman Mendelson (B22-0104) to implement the new IZ changes. We are eager to hear from the administration on how it plans to revise the law and regulations in order to meet the June 5 deadline.
Can you urge the Mayor and DC Council to work together to pass the new bill?
We’ve come so far to make IZ truly affordable, let’s not lose any opportunity to provide more affordable homes to DC residents struggling to find a home they can afford.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the Mayor and Council you support the IZ bill. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Downtown Bethesda will be safer to walk and bike, greener, more energy efficient, and include more affordable housing under a proposed new master plan.
The product of three years of work by the planning staff, and extensive public comment and analysis, the Bethesda Downtown Plan is now under review by the Montgomery County Council. We need your help to make sure it passes.
Among the many improvements in the Bethesda Downtown Plan, here are some highlights:
- 15% of new rental units must be moderately priced affordable housing units
- Streets redesigned to be safer for walking and biking, with nearly four more miles of bike lanes
- A 30% increase in acres of park space
- 62 acres of tree canopy – a 37% increase
- 30 to 36 acres of green roofs and strong energy efficiency goals
- Public benefits in exchange for increased density in the core
- Decreasing building heights closer to single family neighborhoods
By focusing more housing and jobs within walking distance to Metro and the Purple Line, the plan aims for a 20% reduction in driving miles, and 50% of commuters using non-auto modes.
The new Bethesda plan will ensure Montgomery County stays competitive in attracting cutting edge employers, while increasing the tax base to support services across the county. Marriott is relocating to Downtown Bethesda from their suburban office park in large part to attract and retain the next generation workforce. By making Bethesda greener, more walkable, and more inclusive, we’ll attract more great companies.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the Council you support an equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically thriving Montgomery County. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Many employees in DC receive free or subsidized parking, which makes it cheaper to drive to work. But what about workers who commute by transit, walking, or biking?
To level the playing field, a new DC bill will require employers who provide a free or subsidized parking space to their employees to offer options of the same value – either transit plus cash, or cash for those who choose to walk or bike to work. This is a huge step forward for commuter benefits. Tell the DC Council you support the bill!
In 2014 the DC Council passed the DC Commuter Benefits Law, which requires that any employer with 20 or more employees offer pre-tax commuter transit benefits. This was a great start, but that law does not address the imbalance in economic value provided to employees who drive and those who take transit, bike, or walk. The Transportation Benefits Equity Amendment Act of 2017 (B22-175), introduced on March 7, will change that.
Under the bill, employers that provide a parking benefit would have to also offer a commute benefit of the same value to employees who prefer to not commute by car. The bill would incentivize more walk, bike, and transit commutes, reduce driving and pollution, and improve health and well-being. Those who prefer their parking benefits will be able to keep them.
This bill will be especially helpful for DC residents. Compared to Maryland and Virginia residents commuting into DC, DC residents are 1.6 times more likely to commute by transit, carpool, walking, or biking.
If passed, this bill would be a national model for incentivizing sustainable commuter benefits and reducing traffic congestion. Can you help make sure it’s passed? Tell the DC Council you want an equal benefit for sustainable commutes.
Use our take-action tool below to tell the DC officials to pass this bill to equalize commuter benefits. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!