Changes to D.C. visitor parking laws scrapped

WASHINGTON – Expressing dismay over the confusion at the D.C. Department of Transportation, the D.C. City Council voted this week to allow the current visitor parking program to continue without changes in Washington, D.C. for one more year.

The Visitor Parking Program (VPP) allows those visiting District residents during the day or overnight to park more than two hours in residential parking permit blocks. Posted signs with the words, “Limit to Zone Permit Holders Only,” indicate residential parking permit zones.

DDOT will usually hand out visitor parking permits to District residents to give to their visitors, which are valid from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. But DDOT originally geared up for a widespread parking program, set to go into effect at the end of this fiscal year. But residents wrote to the D.C. Council to express their concerns over the possible reform.

“That confusion is largely due to DDOT’s failure to announce the exact dimensions of the program and how it would be implemented,” D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh wrote in an email to her constituents. “Clearly, more time is needed to thoroughly craft any changes to the policy and roll them out with an effective communications campaign.”

Cheh said she asked DDOT to delay the plan for a year at a D.C. Council hearing. She said District residents were getting anxious because they didn’t get definitive instructions for the new program.

“They tried to put it in place too fast and we need to slow this down and stop where we are,” Cheh said.

With a vote to delay changes to the visitor parking program, Cheh said the current laws will stay in place for another year.

“We need to ensure for the residents who’ve enjoyed the VPP that there’s no change in how the program operates for their neighborhoods,” said DC Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who introduced the measure.

Other councilmembers voiced their concern with the parking structure in general.

“The Mayor and the Department of Transportation made an absolute mess of our parking structure by saying that everyone now gets a visitor parking pass that asked for it,” District Councilmember Tommy Wells said. “We have neighborhoods where that will obviously be exploited. It was just a mistake.”

The new law also will require DDOT to mail out new visitor parking passes no later than 30 days before the end of the fiscal year, when passes expire.

Until DDOT issues new passes for 2013-2014, visitors will still be able to use their 2012-2013 passes to park in the District, Cheh said.

Residents who have visitors parking overnight also need to file a Registration of Out of State Automobile (ROSA) application with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to picking up a visitor parking pass to avoid getting a parking ticket.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano and Ari Ashe contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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