Greater Greater Washington

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DC visitor parking pass program lurches citywide

DC's program of handing out free visitor parking passes will expand citywide, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced today. This isn't, however, the result of thoughtful planning about how to fix problems with parking. Instead, the agency is slouching toward a messy parking policy because it can't manage to develop a good one.

Residents in all neighborhoods, provided they live on a block with residential permit parking (RPP), will soon be able to go to a website to request a visitor placard. The resident can hand that placard, good for one year, to anyone, who can then display it in a car and park for free, for an unlimited length of time, within the immediate area.

DDOT has had such a system for several years in lower-density wards 3 and 4, plus the ballpark area of Ward 6, and more recently in Wards 1 and 5 and the Howard Theatre area of Ward 6. Meanwhile, other neighborhoods in DC, including my own Dupont Circle, opposed applying the same program to their areas.

A year ago, when DDOT last renewed and expanded the program, officials promised to put in place a more permanent system that was better tailored to neighborhoods' varied needs. Quite simply, they failed. In fact, DDOT's two parking managers, Angelo Rao and Damon Harvey, recently left the agency, and some people familiar with the situation say they were fired. Update: I was able to confirm that Harvey chose to leave DDOT (he now works fo ParkMobile in Atlanta), while Rao did not.

Rao told communities he knew he was under a deadline to find a better system by this fall; instead, he created none. The "parking think tanks" Rao and Harvey ran last winter, where residents weighed in about parking problems, have come to naught.

New program makes small tweaks, but could invite abuse

In prior years, DDOT mailed out (often with great fanfare in the press) placards to every household in the affected areas. This year, DDOT will require residents to affirmatively ask for a placard via a website. They'll still be free and easy to get, but perhaps it will cut down on the number of placards out there.

The big question is whether people in the new neighborhoods will give away or sell their placards not to their own visitors, but to people who are commuting to an area. The whole point of the RPP program is to prevent commuters from parking on neighborhood streets.

With the program citywide, it will now encompass neighborhoods with large numbers of offices and residents, such as Georgetown, Logan Circle, and Mount Vernon Triangle. At a parking meeting, commissioners from Dupont Circle's ANC 2B asked Harvey not to expand visitor passes to the neighborhood. Their fear was that it would lead to commuters parking on neighborhood streets, for free, all day.

My own neighbor, for instance, rents out a parking space behind his house to a commuter. Will people start selling their placards? Will that worsen the parking crunch? Will it undercut my neighbor's ability to rent out his space?

Mount Pleasant ANC commissioner Jack McKay wrote in an email, "The purpose of RPP is simply to prevent commuters from using neighborhood streets as free all-day parking lots. So long as residents don't hand their visitor passes over to neighborhood business employees, that purpose remains met. ... Mount Pleasant has had visitor parking passes since 2008. Abuse has been insignificant, and residents, many of whom who depend on household help and child care workers and day-nurse care, love the program."

Harvey often claimed that he hadn't seen much abuse, and said he monitored sites like Craigslist to stop people selling their placards. But will the temptation be too great in a neighborhood like Dupont, compared to Mount Pleasant, which doesn't have large office buildings? (Plus, now that Harvey's gone, will anyone be watching?)

Twitter user @pavethewhales wrote, "My block has guest passes, and they are horribly abused. Out of state cars parking every day. ... Without tying permits to individual homes, [there will be] no accountability whatsoever."

If it becomes harder and harder to park in mixed-use areas, that might lead residents to request the other recent, haphazard parking change: dedicated resident-only parking on one side of every street. That might seem like a reasonable approach, but then will parking become too difficult for short-term visitors to local businesses? And what about residents who need to have more than one visitor at a time?

We need a better solution

Rao promised to develop a more sensible approach by this fall. He wasn't the first. DDOT has only been mailing out visitor passes for a few years. When they started in Ward 4 and then Ward 3, officials at the time said this was an interim step, and they would replace it with a better program soon. But year after year, the agency has failed to fix this, and instead, has extended and expanded it more and more.

DDOT's then-Director Gabe Klein suggested hiring a "parking czar" back in 2010. It took until 2012 to get one hired, Rao, but then Director Terry Bellamy moved parking out of the policy group and into the traffic operations group. Rao told me that bureaucratic struggles between operations and policy made it much more difficult for him to develop any kind of comprehensive strategy.

A good solution would likely incorporate some kind of pricing signal. In neighborhoods with low parking demand, like DC's lowest-density areas away from neighborhood corridors, likely there is no reason to charge much for parking (and, in fact, perhaps not even a reason to limit parking to residents at all). In the highest-demand areas like Dupont Circle, meanwhile, placards shouldn't be free.

One approach would be to set a price for the annual placard. A better approach would give people a "coupon booklet" of passes, each good for one day, that the resident can give to visitors. It would help keep a lid on overuse, and would also let a resident offer parking to 2, 3, or 10 people in the same day, if that's necessary.

Anyone who uses up the booklet could buy a new one at some pricein low-demand areas, maybe a token administrative fee, and in high-demand areas, a higher amount that keeps a match between supply and demand.

Or maybe there are other good answers. What's for sure is that we won't reach a good policy by doing nothing, having individual councilmembers legislate changes for their wards, and slapping larger and larger band-aids on the problem.

Meanwhile, the more people get free passes, the harder it will be to build support for a better solution. Free passes help some people and hurt others. Those helped will fight fiercely not to lose the privilege or have to start paying, and can drown out those who benefit from a superior policy. Had DDOT set up a reasonable pricing-based system years ago, it would have been a lot easier. Is it even possible now?

Instead of moving forward, we're still back at square one. There's no public plan, not even anybody publicly in charge of parking, and an "interim" program metastasizes for another year.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Frankly I don't think this is necessary. If you have a visitor, it's pretty simple to go to the local police station and get a temporary parking pass (for free). It takes just a couple of minutes. Now there could be thousands of passes floating around at any given time? Seems excessive.

by MJ on Aug 8, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

The coupon book system works pretty well in Arlington.

by Bitter Brew on Aug 8, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

We've had a fairly significant problem with people selling their guest passes to ballpark workers. But as it's nearly impossible to prove, we're stuck with it for the time being.

by Birdie on Aug 8, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

I live in Ward 3, and recently received my VPP in the mail. As of July 26, when it was postmarked, the enclosed letter still referred me to direct questions regarding the program to Mr. Harvey. Good to know he's no longer there, because the VPP they sent me expires this September ( instead of September 2014, which was what I was expecting to get in line with prior years), and I definitely had questions about that. Emails and phone calls to Mr. Harvey haven't been returned, and now I know why. It's quite frustrating when DDOT mails incorrect or outdated information out. Thank you GGW for the update.

As for the VPP program, I like the option of having some sort of pass for visitors - it's obviously necessary from time to time. I think a free pass to everyone in the city though could cause problems, and wish DDOT could come up with something better. I like the idea of some sort of allotment per household, such as the "coupon book" mentioned in the post. However, since DDOT can't even include accurate information in their mailings, I doubt we'll see any progress on this anytime soon.

by Eric on Aug 8, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

I have friends who live in parking permit enforced neighborhoods in Baltimore. They can have up to 2 visitor passes per household, each costing $30 a year. The pases are the same color as the resident pases, except they are bigger and cardboard instead of a square sticker fixed to the windshield. If a pass is used for more than I think 1 week by the same car, the car is ticketed, and so is the owner who that pass was registered to. It works great when I visit my friends for the day or even over night. I just put the pass in the windshield, and give it back when I leave. The City does seem to enforce this, as my friend got a ticket for using his visitor pass for more than 1 week in the same car, after his front windshield was replaced and he didn't get a new resident sticker from the City.

by Gull on Aug 8, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

I'm sort of surprised that there isn't an online system that's tied into parking enforcement where residents just apply for passes. The system verifies you as a resident and you get the pass. Maybe you have to reapply every five days. You could only park within a certain distance of your house; it could show you on a map where to park. You'd be required to enter the visitor's plate information, make and model of car, and so on. I think it could be made rather abuse-free by limiting visiting times and just asking for the same information that the police used to ask when you would have to go there for a visitor pass. The system would have to be tied to parking enforcement's system so that they would know not to ticket the car. I can't imagine that a commuter would be able to have some resident re-up for a parking pass again and again.

by dc denizen on Aug 8, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

It takes perhaps 5 minutes at the local police station to obtain a visitor pass. Extending the VPP citywide is a means of papering over the city's inability to work with different constituencies and find a more reasonable solution.

An online system as described by dc denizen makes a lot of sense IMHO.

by Andy on Aug 8, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

My understanding of the current passes (and I get one) is that they are technically limited only to your ANC district, not the entire zone, but, since all the Zone 6 cards are the same color, they can pretty much be used anywhere in the zone. I have seen them un-ticketed all over Zone 6. Which gets us back to the age-old issue of the zones being too big.

The current system of going to the police station is fine for the public, but that is probably not the best use of police resources. Many cities have pretty much done away with the "front desk" of the police station as a way to save money and/or put more officers on the street (although of course in NYC they still use highly paid sergeants for this job which is totally senseless). If it can be done online, then so much the better. If you don't have a computer, the DC Library System just installed an entire virtual "village" at the main branch (you can even print something in 3D there).

I like the idea of giving each RPP holder a limited set of passes (you can buy more if you want), with the caveat that each pass must be dated by the user (punch out the date or something similar) to allow for parking of say, up to 1 week, but prevent turning the passes into commuter permits.

by dcdriver on Aug 8, 2013 4:18 pm • linkreport

a coupon system with scannable bar codes that you activate for a day would work fine.

If RPP were priced effectively you could also sell monthly or even weekly ones.

Free year long passes mailed out for all over the city is silly. Mail isnt free, the parking is limited, and encourages abuse.

RPP in areas that are low density is really just a huge waste of resources. Behind my apartment there is a street 400ft long that requires a RPP 24 hours a day. There are signs every 20 feet informing citizens of the parking restrictions. I have seen a car with a permit park there once in my life. I understand not wanting to have random cars parked their permanently but the whole city could say that no one can park on a street for more than 2 weeks straight without getting an exception(for people on vacation)

by Richard B on Aug 8, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

I've found this really useful. The people in the house above me have a car and thus RPP. I don't (occassionally use car2go) but about 3-4 times this year I've borrowed their visitor pass usually just for a Friday or Monday. A trip to the police precinct would probably take me an hour on foot round trip or maybe 40 minutes round trip plus bus fare.

by Alan B. on Aug 8, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

Going to the police station to get a pass, quite frankly, sucks. It is inconvenient, time-consuming, and no way to run a government in the 21st century.

I've used my Ward 1 pass a few times. It is very convenient. I have not illicitly rented it to anyone.

DC wants to encourage car-free and car-lite living. That means we need to make it easy for people who occasionally rent a car to haul stuff from Ikea or head out of town for a weekend. That means a simple process for occasional parking -- not a more onerous one.

by Gavin on Aug 8, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

I'd rather have a coupon book for the simple reason that the parking enforcement people have been known to lurk at our house and ticket my 77-year-old mother after she's packed up her car, while she's dropping the visitor's pass through our mail slot! She tried contesting that and got nowhere. So now we always go to the police station to get her a pass she can drive away with.

by Sally M on Aug 8, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

A coupon book or a one week limit then steep fines (how does that work, one week on, one week off?) would be fair. Frankly the alternative is not bad (going to DCUSA to park for a day) but just a bit annoying logistically.

by Alan B. on Aug 8, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

Heck, if DDOT would only read the comments here, they'd have a pretty decent idea for a plan that would make sense. I remember back when bar codes were just starting to be used in groceries, and the then President George H. W. Bush walked into a grocery and had no idea what the thing was. This sounds a lot like DDOT since using a bar scanner to better police potential abuses is simple, simple.

I'm more interested in why exactly DDOT is so screwed up that either Rao was ignored (based on David's interview) or that he was too incompetent to put forth a good solution. And then who at DDOT was responsible for making this terrible decision?

by fongfong on Aug 8, 2013 5:09 pm • linkreport

i'll admit i used to abuse the VPP program pretty frequently. when i lived with my boyfriend in bloomingdale, he used my car to commute to work in PG county. my car had MD plates, and I couldn't change them because the car wouldn't meet DC emissions testing (it was a really, really shitty car). i used the VPP from his house to park outside on First every day for about 2 years. i also used it when i sometimes used the car instead of him to drive to work in capitol hill. obviously the pass shouldn't work for an entirely different ward, but...guess those meter maids weren't paying too much attention. now i have a different car with dc plates so it's no longer an issue, but abusing the system is easy to do, and even coming from a former abuser i think it needs to change.

by dana on Aug 8, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

Dana -

"even coming from a former abuser i think it needs to change"

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in a 12-step program. Glad to see you're well down the road. Parked, perhaps, but well down. ;-)

by AA on Aug 8, 2013 5:41 pm • linkreport

It all depends on enforcement. I've had a visitor use my pass and she receive a $100 ticket. Law states if a car is observed for 30 consecutive days, even with the pass, you get a ticket. Now, that wasn't the case in my visitor's situation (she got a warning ticket in April and a fine in June) but you can see how this will go. Cha Ching.

by Randall M. on Aug 8, 2013 6:15 pm • linkreport

DC re-inventing the wheel again. Arlington's coupon book system is great.

by Tom Coumaris on Aug 8, 2013 9:03 pm • linkreport

The police-station visitor pass is good only for non-commercial vehicles (e.g., not plumbers) and you have to present the visiting auto's registration and show everyone's ID (yours for proof of address and the visitor's for whatever reason) and answer arbitrary conversational questions. Police stations are cunningly situated in places where you cannot usually find any place to park. Therefore, if someone is visiting, what you have to do is kidnap a third person, the three of you get in the car, go to the police station, you and the guest get out and take care of the paperwork while the third person cruises around and around the block in your car without the registration until you and your guest are ready to leave.

The new visitor pass is a big improvement from the perspective of what-if-you-actually-have-a-guest.

by Turnip on Aug 8, 2013 9:05 pm • linkreport

Seems like there's an excellent private partnership opportunity with Park Mobile. They already have a system for tracking cars in areas and its already tied to a payment mechanism and a system for preventing incorrect tickets an could easily prevent people from receiving too many permits or providing them to a single visitor too often.

I agree that the system does have issues (mostly the city's issues) it's the best technological system available.

by Name on Aug 8, 2013 9:28 pm • linkreport

All I can say is that I have no sadness to hear that Damon Harvey is no longer with DC DOT. He never answered his emails or responded to his voicemails. Every year, I did not receive a VPP by mail as I was supposed to, and every year my efforts to contact Damon Harvery were exercises in futility. This year, it wasn't until my elected ANC official got involved that he would respond to my request for a VPP. If you're going to be a civil servant, you owe it to the public to provide a basic level of communication with with people who pay your salary. The web-based request system for the VPP sounds like a huge improvement over using one person as the control tower.

by CDS on Aug 9, 2013 12:40 am • linkreport

This is a recipe for failure on so many levels. First, it will once again give residents the false hope of more free parking, in this case for visitors (or "visitors"). Second, the policy is ripe for abuse. Third, it will make it that much harder to implement any sort of "pay to play" policy that might be conceived for the future ("you are taking away our free guess passes?")

Ultimately, there is no politically easy answer to the parking question. People who live close to metro want smaller zones. People who live further away want larger ones. Everyone likes paying $35/yr to store their cars on streets. Who doesn't like free guest parking passes?

I think my first step would be for DDOT to evaluate each RPP block in the city and test for which ones truly have internal and external demand to warrant designation. There are many blocks in each ward where residents requested designation so they could park in other neighborhoods. Eliminate those and you have the ability to ease overcrowded parking in certain neighborhoods, particularly during the day.

Second, evaluate the cost to the residents. $35 a year is ridiculous. It should be either $50 or $100 for the first car, and scale up significantly for each car tied to a household (including renters in ADUs) thereafter. The cost should be absorbed by the landlord, if necessary.

Third, RPP should not be available on major arterial streets, as originally implemented.

Forth, RPP was designed to eliminate the ability for suburban commuters to park outside the core for the day for free. However, one of the biggest issues now is the intracity (and even intra-neighborhood) commuter doing the exact same thing. That is fine; they should pay market rates for it.

As we know from the zoning rewrite, everything seems to come down to car storage for some people. This is a political landmine that no one wants to really touch.

by William on Aug 9, 2013 6:30 am • linkreport

Glad to see the residents at the Bond building in Tenleytown will never get visitor parking either. That should teach them!

RPP should be in the $50 to $100 per month, not per year.

by charlie on Aug 9, 2013 7:14 am • linkreport

@fongfong: that incident was hilarious not because bar codes were just rolling out, but because it seemed that Bush hadn't had to do his own shopping in decades. (They started rolling out in the 70s.)

by Mike on Aug 9, 2013 7:18 am • linkreport

The residents of The Bond weren't going to get them anyway.

The actual cost of parking ought to reflect demand. If it is $50/$100 a month, I am cool with that.

by William on Aug 9, 2013 7:19 am • linkreport

Why are some residents allowed visitor passes--just because they are allowed RPP, while other residents not under RPP cannot get visitor passes. People without RPP have visitors too. There should be no visitor passes. period. That would make managing the visitor pass program pretty easy and frankly, fair, for all residents.

by Me on Aug 9, 2013 7:47 am • linkreport

I tend to agree with "me". I am not sure why visitors in RPP zones are entitled to visitor passes.

If the residents of the block have too many visitors, they ought to reconsider being zoned.

by William on Aug 9, 2013 7:54 am • linkreport

If your block doesn't have RPP, then that would indicate that there isn't a problem finding a parking place on your block. And why would you need a visitor pass so someone can park in the (non-existent) RPP spaces on your block?

by MLD on Aug 9, 2013 8:39 am • linkreport

The problem with an online system, which is in many ways a great idea, is that not everyone has access to a computer and printer at home.

That said, no reason one can't combine online and a coupon book system that allows people to print a certain number of passes each month or order a coupon book periodically if they can't.

by ah on Aug 9, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

If your block doesn't have RPP, then that would indicate that there isn't a problem finding a parking place on your block.

Faulty assumption. Lots of areas with RPP do not actually have excess parking demand. And, conversely, lots of areas without RPP do, but are ineligible for a number of reasons.

Or, you live in an area with lots of metered parking. Which is a hell of a lot more efficient and fair than a VPP.

by Alex B. on Aug 9, 2013 9:15 am • linkreport

Way back in 2003, a Parking Task Force concluded that curbside parking should be priced at market rates. That means that residents should be paying $600 per year, at least, for their own RPP permits, as well as visitor passes. But there's no way that any elected councilmembers will touch such a notion.

The visitor passes are a band-aid on the free parking system, essentially allowing residents to provide parking for household help, as well as family visitors. We, for example, have a woman come once a week to do laundry and cleaning, and the two-hour allowance isn't enough. Going to the police station repeatedly for short-term visitor passes isn't really practical. Hence the need for permanent passes, one per household. Not an ideal system, but it meets this need.

At that Parking Task Force, I proposed that the two-hour allowance be expanded to four hours, to permit household help without the need for parking permits. That would still prevent all-day commuter parking. But that notion didn't win any support.

The curbside parking "system" is a mess, for sure, but the real fix -- serious costs for curbside parking permits, not the current token prices -- isn't politically feasible.

by Jack on Aug 9, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

@Turnip: "The police-station visitor pass is good only for non-commercial vehicles (e.g., not plumbers) and you have to present the visiting auto's registration and show everyone's ID (yours for proof of address and the visitor's for whatever reason) and answer arbitrary conversational questions."

Wow, really?! Sorry to hear you've had such trouble. Leave it to DC to be so inconsistent from one station to the next. What police station are you going to? At the station on the Hill, all you need is your license (you, the resident) and the plate number of the car that needs the pass. No registration for the car required. No ID from the visitor. Definitely no arbitrary questions. The whole process takes me about 90 seconds. I usually go the night before my guests arrive.

by MJ on Aug 9, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

For the "go to the police station" thing, MJ, can you go to any police station or do you have to go to the one for your police district? Because that would be extremely inconvenient for, e.g., those of us who live in Dupont south of Q Street (including both me and David Alpert), since the 2012 MPD redistricting means that instead of the police station at 17th and V Street being our district station, we are under the 2nd district whose main station is way over on Idaho Avenue in McLean Gardens -- nowhere near a Metro station, and we'd have to take two buses to get there.

by iaom on Aug 9, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

Is this the same as DC's Registration of Out of State Autos (ROSA)?

I used to go to my boyfriend's house off Georgia Ave for dinner a couple nights a week. One time, leaving after 10pm, I found a ticket on my windshield for "failure to display reciprocal tags." I had no idea what that meant, and neither did my boyfriend.

After several hours wasted, searching for an answer (because an internet search didn't show anything results for the wording used on the ticket), I finally discovered this ROSA policy. We found a solution to it, too: I convinced him to move out of the city!

by Rich on Aug 9, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

The reason DDOT isn't in a hurry to make significant changes to the RPP system and the related visitor tag system is because the current system is fairly functional. Sure, some neighborhoods have parking issues, but many other don't.

Many of the proposals I've seen, like increasing the cost of RPP's, would be political poison, and there's no huge groundswell of popular demand to revise the existing system. There isn't a consensus that the current system needs to be changed, never mind what it needs to be changed into.

I guess that's the reality of government: something that works at essentially a B- level is usually good enough.

by Potowmack on Aug 9, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

The reason DDOT isn't in a hurry to make significant changes to the RPP system and the related visitor tag system is because the current system is fairly functional. Sure, some neighborhoods have parking issues, but many other don't.

How is this an assessment of the success of the RPP system?

Sure, many neighborhoods don't have parking issues. I'm not sure why you attribute that to RPP; they likely don't have issues because they don't have the demand for parking. And in places that do have demand in excess of supply, they do have issues.

That's a pretty serious hole in your logic.

Many of the proposals I've seen, like increasing the cost of RPP's, would be political poison, and there's no huge groundswell of popular demand to revise the existing system.

It's true, there's not a lot of political support for anything that involves raising a price.

That said, just because there's no support for raising the price doesn't mean people are happy with the existing system.

As an analogy, look at the budget debates in Congress. The GOP pushes the idea of cutting spending heavily, which is supported in the abstract. Yet when it comes time to actually specify the cuts so the math adds up, support fizzles.

Finding the contradiction that people want to have their cake and eat it, too isn't some huge revelation.

There isn't a consensus that the current system needs to be changed, never mind what it needs to be changed into.

Yet there are plenty of people unhappy with the current system. Don't confuse status quo bias with the idea that the status quo works best.

by Alex B. on Aug 9, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

It wouldn't be a slam dunk but I'm not sure it's impossible. Plenty of people in DC don't have cars right or have garages and are agnostic about one street parking in their ward? If they could make a clear argument that say the increase in funding for RPP would be of benefit, I could see a healthy debate. Plus some people might get a bit flustered at paying $600 a year or whatever but really not find it that much of a hardship in the face of easier access to parking. You'd have to build a coalition between people willing to pay more for parking and those who want that additional say $25-50 million a year in revunue. Maybe the Mayor could pledge it to affordable housing or transit as those seem generally popular with the carfree crowd.

by Alan B. on Aug 9, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Here are the detailed proposed regulations from the DC Register:

http://dcregs.org/Gateway/NoticeHome.aspx?SearchType=DCR&NoticeID=4500526

They're theoretically limited to the ANC and not the ward. There is a rule prohibiting the exchange of the permit for "anything of value." And any permits issues prior to September 1, 2013 will expire on October 31, 2013 (which is why there was a comment above about a just-issued permit expiring soon). The police can still issue 15-day visitor parking permits as well.

by Corey H. on Aug 9, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

Coupon book isn't a good solution for people with household help on a daily or even weekly basis -- unless each household gets lots of coupons. And presumably the coupons could be even easier to sell than the placards (i.e. a resident could retain some coupons for personal use and sell others -- whereas selling the placard means giving up the privilege for a year.)

Caregivers are going to be indistinguishable from commuters in many cases because, realistically, they are commuuters -- they just work in homes rather than offices. Which is why it makes sense that they park in residential neighborhoods.

FWIW, it's not easy to go to the police department if you're a non-driver whose visitors are often service people and you can't get their plate numbers in advance. IME, similar to Turnip's, it's a real PITA. Agree with Alan B. and Gavin that the current VPP system works well for people who don't own car. Disagree with William that we should charge DC commuters who use RPP to park and ride Metrorail "market rates" for street parking. Odds are they then end up driving to work.

by BTDT on Aug 9, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Coupon book isn't a good solution for people with household help on a daily or even weekly basis -- unless each household gets lots of coupons.

Why is getting a lot of coupons a problem?

by Alex B. on Aug 9, 2013 1:48 pm • linkreport

I live within the "ballpark area" and so was eligible for the pilot program. I never automatically received one in the mail; twice requested visitor permits by phone, and only received one once. Maybe the other one got lost in the mail. Since it was only valid within ANC 6D, I never tried parking with it elsewhere on the Hill, although that certainly would have been convenient. I had heard anecdotes about people selling their visitor passes to commuters, but if I were commuting I wouldn't rely upon iffy local street parking availability.

FWIW, the coupon-book system seemed to work OK in Chicago. If someone constantly needs coupons, that's fine -- they can buy more books of them. You park more, you pay more.

by Payton on Aug 9, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Oh, and I recall that the form for requesting the Visitor Pass for the first time mentions a lot about ROSA, which is supposedly how they crack down upon abuses like commuters.

by Payton on Aug 9, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

You'd have to build a coalition between people willing to pay more for parking and those who want that additional say $25-50 million a year in revunue.

The members of the first part of that coalition could all probably comfortably fit into a phone booth.

by Potowmack on Aug 9, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

If you have DC Tags the VPP operates as a free substitute for obtaining an RPP. We are all suckers for paying for an RPP, just use the free VPP and you wil never get a ticket so long as you have DC Tags.

Also how is blanketing the city with free parking passes supposed to help alleviate parking problems?

by Devoe on Aug 9, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

Actually, I've observed that the VPP acts as a free substitute for avoiding the registration of out of state vehicles with the DC government (and perhaps the avoidance of higher DC auto rates).

Note to DC parking enforcement: A number of residents in 3333 Wisconsin NW complex routinely park their out-of-state license plate cars in the adjacent area and use VPP for street parking needs. A bit more ROSA enforcement would be a good thing.

by Alf on Aug 9, 2013 5:49 pm • linkreport

I've been getting the VPPs for a while, and they're great. I RARELY have visitors who exceed the 2-hour limit during the day, but when I do, being able to give them the permit is a huge help. Like a few weeks ago when I had my handyman in to paint and do other repairs, taking about 5 hours, in a van too big for our parking spot (well, I guess he probably could have gotten it in there, but it would have been an interesting gymnastic exercise to then load and unload equipment from it). The complication for me is getting to the 5D police station without a car (nearly impossible), so I'm a particularly big fan (and light user...anyone coming to my house in less than a cargo van can just use my off-street spot if they're staying more than 2 hours). But I understand the need for a better system less prone to abuse for denser neighborhoods.

I also think a coupon book is a fine idea, since it's easy enough to implement city-wide. Honestly, despite the differing needs of neighborhoods, it's just easier to administer ONE policy. Yes, a computer program could easily be written that would charge a varying rate based on the residential address entered (side note: visitor parking permits should be available to those NOT having an RPP...I don't have an RPP because I don't have a car...it should be based on address, which can be verified using DL or non-driver ID #, open to all who RESIDE in an RPP-eligible address), but complication in general should be avoided. It would be FAR better to adjust RPP rules to density (maybe my neighborhood, which is not prime for commuter abuse and has LOADS of parking compared to the demand for it, could have 4-hour parking for guests, or shorter 2-hour RPP hours, while other neighborhoods get 1-hour free parking or none at all or longer RPP hours). It's easier, administratively, to change some signs than determine what rubric someone falls under when applying for a permit.

by Ms. D on Aug 9, 2013 7:55 pm • linkreport

So the slouches that don't pay taxes here get to mooch off of the rest of us. I see this as a terrible idea.

by NE John on Aug 10, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

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