Whistleblower exposes secret D.C. parking spots

Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A good parking space is hard to find, and a free parking space is even more rare in the District. But some Georgetown and Foggy Bottom commuters have a secret they’ve been keeping for years.

The parking lot for the Thompson Boat House on Virginia Avenue near the Watergate Hotel has about 90 metered spaces where drivers can legally park for up to three hours a day. Since the lot is on federal park land, District parking enforcement can’t issue citations and U.S. Park Police don’t regularly enforce the restrictions.

Commuters say it’s cheaper to take the chance since the fine is only $25 if caught, and the odds are in their favor that they won’t be.

“The dirty little secret is that the meter maid does not come regularly so you can actually park without getting a ticket,” said a commuter who declined to give her name. “It would be a lot more expensive to park in my building.”

But on Thursday, a person who works in the District complained about the lack of enforcement on a local blog. The person wrote to TheMail, a weekly e-newsletter published by DCWatch.org, saying that a park service official had said there was not enough manpower for police to enforce the parking restrictions every day.

That posting was published at 5 a.m. on Thursday. Six hours later, at least three Park Police officers issued more than 50 tickets in the lot. Of the 70 cars in the lot at 12:30 p.m., 54 had received a $25 fine.

Two cars parked in handicapped spaces got $30 fines.

The lot is strategically located near the off-ramp of the Whitehurst Freeway. It’s within walking distance to Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and K Street.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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