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Parking tickets may soon be mailed out in DC, increases to street parking proposed

Parking ticket in downtown Washington D.C. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Fleeing a parking ticket could soon become more difficult in the District.

Changes to allow parking enforcement officers to mail tickets to drivers who take off before the ticket can be placed on their windshields or handed to them are on track for D.C. Council approval.

The changes could particularly help support planned increased enforcement of bike lane safety rules if approved by the full council in votes expected May 14.

The shift to mailing tickets is just one of several parking changes D.C. Council is considering.

Residential parking permit fee increase proposed

District residents in areas with residential parking rules pay just $35 a year to park their cars on the street, but that fee would rise for the first time since 2011 under a Cheh proposal that sparked some significant opposition on the council Thursday.

The $35-a-year price is quite a bargain, Cheh said, since some garages charge five times that per month.

Cheh’s plan would raise the residential parking permit fee to $50 a year for the first vehicle at each home, $75 for the second vehicle at the same legal mailing address, $100 for the third vehicle, and $150 for any additional vehicles. People 65 or older would pay $35 for their first car.

“Of households with RPP, nearly 70% have only one car. It is the remaining 30% who are capitalizing on the below-market cost for parking on the street,” the committee report said.
Less than half of District residents drive themselves to work.

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd expressed significant concerns about the increased costs from the plan for families or other groups living at a home with four or more cars.

“The complaints I get a lot are that the government is just nickel and diming us,” Evans said.

Cheh was happy the plan might provide another incentive for the small group of D.C. residents with more than two cars regularly parked on public streets to have fewer cars and consider biking, walking or using transit instead.

“There are 7,000 households with three or more cars in the public space, with over 100 households having more than seven cars registered to a single residence. Without any policy checking these excesses, there have been severe parking shortages, especially in areas where parking is already scarce,” the committee report said.

The plan is intended to free up some parking in those areas, and is projected to raise $1.676 million. Some of that money would be used to cover upgrades to computer systems and additional staff to handle residential parking rule violation tickets while the rest would go toward better replacements of lead water pipes and improved meals for D.C. kids.

Residential parking rules only apply on blocks where a majority of residents petitioned for the restrictions.

Residents can get temporary visitor parking permits from their local police station or annual visitor parking passes from DDOT.

Starting in 2020, DDOT is expected to take over temporary visitor parking permit responsibilities from D.C. police.

Other parking proposals

  • The council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment supported Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposal to increase funding for towing operations with a particular focus on cars left blocking lanes that are no parking during rush hour. The city has already been spending more on overtime to enforce nighttime Uber, Lyft and taxi drop off zones on Connecticut Avenue NW.
  • While not mandatory in budget language moving toward final approval, the city could also begin enforcing parking rules late-nights and Sundays. The committee is asking the Department of Public Works to provide Sunday parking enforcement to keep traffic moving and take care of safety issues.

“Although the Committee recognizes that there are multiple considerations at play regarding Sunday enforcement, it recommends that DPW formally consider instituting Sunday parking enforcement, including an assessment of the costs (taking into account potential revenue), and of whether the lack of enforcement on Sundays is creating safety concerns,” the committee report said.

Besides safety, no enforcement creates traffic backups around areas like The Wharf as people double-park and otherwise flout the rules, Councilman Charles Allen said.

“People can’t move around their own neighborhood, people can’t get to the businesses they’re trying to get to, it clogs up entire neighborhoods,” Allen said.

  • The committee also supported funding to move forward with tougher penalties in specific areas for repeat parking violators like cars that block rush hour lanes to hold a spot for food trucks.
  • One potential short-term decline in traffic tickets could come if speed camera and red light camera responsibilities are transferred from D.C. police to DDOT as requested by the mayor. The Chief Financial Officer estimated the number of tickets would drop during the transition. Committee Chair Mary Cheh wants the transfer taken up outside of the budget process.
  • The transportation committee also suggested DPW hire more staff or shifting hours regularly to enforce parking rules late at night in areas with busy night life like Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan rather than relying on overtime.
  • There are similar concerns about the city’s setup for Streetcar parking enforcement, so language in the budget would require regular staff handle that rather than only handling enforcement there through overtime.

Extension of the D.C. Streetcar to Benning Road is funded in the capital budget, but there is no funding for a possible future extension to Georgetown. The proposed dedicated transit lanes on K Street NW to Georgetown are funded in the budget, and could be modified later if the streetcar is extended.

Any extension could only happen after a reconstruction of the H Street NE bridge behind Union Station. The committee calls that project “slow moving” but critical to not only the streetcar but also Amtrak expansion. DDOT hopes the bridge could be rebuilt by the end of 2024.

 

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