Dear PoP – DC vehicle usage and parking

“Dear PoP,

I live on the 1300 block of Belmont St, NW. My question comes at a particularly relevant time in DC vehicle usage. There is a large “DC Meters” van that parks on my street overnight. It’s huge and it takes up a lot of very precious parking. The fact that it’s there overnight and gone during the day leads me to believe that someone who works for the city is using this city vehicle as a personal vehicle as well. So, is there a special lot that these vehicles should be parked in overnight? How do I tell if the driver of this van is abusing their “power”?

Bottom line, it takes up an obnoxious amount of room on the street when people seem to be ready to cut each other over parking.”

Hmm, I think some DC jobs (no I’m not talking about that one) allow their workers to drive vehicles home. Anyone else ever hear/see that as well? Do you think “non essential” employees should be able to drive DC vehicles home?

58 Comment

  • it’s a perk. if you don’t think perks can be part of a job package, then oppose this. if you think perks are OK, then people can park these on the street.

  • If it is the one in the picture you have the info needed to report it to 311.

  • It could be the meter money truck, I have seen white vans empty coin meters at night. Two guys and a bunch of bags of coins in the back.

    I wonder if the writer observes it there all night long every night.

    If so, then it’s probably a take-home ride. Some municipal employees who are subject to 24 hour call-out are given the privilege of a take home vehicle. If that’s the case, where else can they be expected to park?

  • As what happened with Mr. Brown – DC OPW thought the SUVs were legal to lease when that was not the case. The DC employee that uses this van may have been told it was okay by her/his boss when that may actually not be the case. I’d call 311 and your councilman’s office adn report this. With rising gas prices and tight budget situations this should be a policy cut as soon as possible.

  • I live near 19th and Swann, and there is often (maybe 3-4 days a week including the weekend) a white DC city minivan parked illegally at the corner of Swann (almost on top of the intersection). It’s quite annoying because it is very difficult for cars trying to turn onto 19th from Swann to be able to get good vision with the car there. There are routinely near misses when a car tries to turn and someone is coming down 19th from the left that they didn’t see.

    I’ve seen DC police stop as if to give it a ticket, and then see it’s a city vehicle and pass it by. I don’t mind them parking on the street overnight, but at least make them park legally.

  • Don’t be a douche. A perk in this day in age is having a full time job. With the price of gas these days too, the “perk” should be getting a metro pass, not the ability to drive a gas guzzler like this one to your house at night.

  • Why the heavy hand with a municipal employee? If this were a private company there’d be no problem – but because they work for the city you feel the need to sound the alarm bells? Can we have a more serious debate than this frivolity?

    • First off, you have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to a “private company”. Second, I’m not paying a “private company’s” bills.

      • I dont think you understand my point. If this were a van from a private company, there would be no issue provided they had the proper registration and parking permits. But because this is a presumably a city owned vehicle, the author felt the need to investigate or complain. Furthermore, I hate it when police park illegally – but that is not the case here.

        • actually I didn’t think you could park commercial vans overnight on DC streets.

          • No, you can’t park commercial vehicles on residential streets. Commercial Vehicle Parking Act of 2001:

            Sec. 2. Section 2601.1 of Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations is amended by striking [§2405.3(e)] to read as follows:

            “Commercial vehicle, bus, or sightseeing vehicle in front of residence or other prohibited location [§2405.3(e) — $500.00”

          • ah

            It’s not that broad ^^. From the looks of the regs, a van doesn’t seem to trigger these limits (22 feet long perhaps?)

            18 DCMR 2405.5:

            The following may not be parked on any public thoroughfare in front of, alongside, or in the rear of any private dwelling or apartment, house of worship, school playground, or hospital; provided, a vehicle may be parked in front of, alongside, or in the rear of such property while engaged in work at such place for which the vehicle is reasonably necessary:

            (a) Any passenger vehicle with a seating capacity of more than fifteen (15) passengers;

            (b) A boat;

            (c) A trailer, whether loaded or unloaded;

            (d) Any vehicle longer than twenty-two feet (22 ft.) or wider than eight feet (8 ft.); or

            (e) Any vehicle that has been designed or modified to haul trash, junk, or debris.

    • Because with a private company they afford that perk through sales not taxes. If I don’t want to suppor Joe the barista’s ability to drive a Starbucks car home I can not buy something from Starbucks. If I try to apply that same logic with my taxes I go to jail.

      It is not the employees fault – its is bad policy. With finite resources I woudl rather see my tax dollars go to better public trans, safer streets, better parks…not gas (and insurance liability) for someone to drive a municipal vehicle home.

    • This belongs to a private company who is contracted out to service/empty parking meters. It’s probably designed to give the appearance of an official gov’t vehicle.

  • What about take-home police cruisers? There’s a cop car pretty consistently parked on Kalorama Rd between 16th and 17th Street because the officer lives in the apartment building nearby. Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t feel the need to cruise around and find a legal parking spot – she parks where she damn well pleases. Pretty frustrating to see day in and day out.

    • There is another cop that lives in Beekman Place near there and parks illegally on the street most nights. The complex puts up with it because they obviously love having the cop car right there. I used to get pissed off about it but then I realized that having police who live in our city, are invested in our community, and pay their taxes here rather than commuting in from Maryland is probably worth it. Not saying that’s a universal excuse, but I’ve made my peace with it and gone back to yelling at other kinds of kids about being on my lawn.

    • I have frequently seen this car and also wondered if I should report it. Not only is the cruiser parked illegally, but it also blocks a fire hydrant.

      • The illegal parking in and around the police station on 17th & V is freaking amazing. Almost on every corner in and around that area there are cruisers parked right up to the corners and it makes it hard to turn from a side street (or onto a side stree) because you can’t see what’s coming. I’m shocked this is allowed. This morning I drove down Ontario to Florida and I could barely make a right hand turn w/o getting my front end clocked because of two cruisers parked on the corner on each side of the street. I even see sometimes there personal cars parked illegaly as well. (you know it’s them because of the black stickers with the blue band or the FOP plates for the MD/VA officers. What’s the deal?? Illegal or ok to blow off parking restriction signs??

        • It’s been worse than usual because the Third District garage has been undergoing major rehab since November. It was supposed to be finished late January/early February but that didn’t happen, obviously. Those of us living in the neighborhood have had many conversations with 3D’s commander, who has been sympathetic but unable to control his officers’ behavior.

          To make matters a bit more annoying, MPD rented a number of garage spaces nearby for the officers’ personal vehicles, but most of them would much rather illegally take up residentially-zoned parking all day. Apparently they’re fit enough for police work but not quite fit enough to walk 2 blocks to the garage.

          • Thanks for this. I was wondering why there has been a large number of SUVS and trucks parked up on the sidewalk along 17th St beside the station. They have essentially destroyed that small grassy area and covered the sidewalk with mud. The “no dogs” signs that remain do make me chuckle walking by, though. Please keep your dogs off the tire-track sculpted mud swamp.

        • me

          They’re often double-parked, too, so since it’s on a one-way street, there is barely enough room to drive around them. I know that parking is at a premium, but I hate it when cops don’t follow the law (like in this instance, or when they’ll run their light just to blow through a red light and then turn it off, etc). Seems a little hypocritical to me.

        • god damn. i would have zero issue if cops parked all around my neighborhood. i’d gladly take your police station on my block please.

          • 5 years ago or so the fog lights were stolen right off my car, in the middle of the day, with my car parked not 100 yards from the police station. The thieves did a beautiful job. They didn’t even leave a scratch on the air dam, so they obviously took their time. Then there was the time that our neighbor’s car was severely damaged by a hit-and-run driver and the helpful officers at 3D refused to look out their window to acknowledge the damage. He had to call 911 and wait several hours for them to show up. Oh, and then there was the time that 3 drunks beat the piss out of me in front of my house and it took them 45 minutes to show up. So I’d say that having cops parked around the neighborhood isn’t as beneficial as one might think.

            And given the generally crappy attitude that the 3D cops have toward the neighbors, I’d say you can have the station.

    • Would you rather her be taking up a legal spot that would have otherwise been available to you?

      The way I see it, unless there is a blind spot or visiblity issue, I would rather have them park a marked unit illegally than take up one of my spots with their personal vehicle.

      • Agree! Sounds like the cops are doing you and your neighbors a favor. They can get away with parking in an illegal spot and leave the legal ones for you!

  • It’s a valid perk for a low-paying job. Get over it and park a couple blocks away.

    • BS. You city employees like to circle the wagons when you get caught, huh?

    • So is subsidized metro usage. And if motor-pool costs were reduced, they might be able to pay a bit more.

      • I’m calling BS on the “government spending” argument.

        The average total cost of operating a vehicle is (sometimes) higher than taking metro. The marginal cost is almost always lower.

        In other words, if the city was going to give this guy a car just to get to work, that would be wasteful spending compared to giving out Metro passes.

        But assuming a vehicle is already required for the job, and that the purchase, maintenance, and insurance costs are already sunk, letting the guy drive the car home is MUCH cheaper than giving him Metro passes.

        • Agreed. And *gasp* the Federal government does the same thing! I know someone who works for the transportation branch of GSA and is allowed to drive the federally owned cars that are not currently being used to and from work. They have a pretty crappy job, it’s not costing the government very much, it helps employee morale… In other words, this is not a battle that is worth fighting over.

        • Agree. And cheaper than the city paying for overnight parking for the vehicle.

  • ah

    Are they actually using the van at night? Because if not it may be more efficient to drive it home thanto take tint some central lot and drive one’s own car there and back. Say he’s emptying meters in that neighborhood-why drive all the way to Brentwood or wherever just to drive it back?

  • DC Law 000001.0 states “do as I say, not as I do”

  • I don’t even see what the problem is. In many cases, the perk of being able to drive the vehicle home at night eliminates the ownership of one car in the household. if they didn’t have the perk, they would probably have another car parked out there at night. it’s a little obnoxious that it is a van and not a prius, but so what.

  • Here’s a timely article from WTOP:

  • Government vehicles are not to be used for personal use. I’d call 311 and find out who (which agency) the van belongs to then call that agency to file a complaint. Low paying (non-Director level) positions in government do not get perks, especially vehicle perks (with the exception of police officers).

    Additionally government fleet vehicles are not permitted to violate traffic or parking laws. They are able to ignore parking meters, but not time limitations on parking.

    • It belongs to no gov’t agency. It’s a private vehicle.

      DC’s parking meter operations are privatized:

      • This is what everyone should be focusing on… The irony is… the people who should be ticketing this vehicle are also the owners of that vehicle.

        If people are calling their councilmembers it should be to report that the company charged with enforcing parking restrictions is in breach through their own actions.

        • ah

          Not really – Meter operations collects the money and makes sure the meters are working. DPW enforces the meter time limits, and they’re city employees.

  • What if the employee services the meters in that neighborhood and the “lot” is in Anacostia somewhere. He’d be saving you all money then, right?

  • Yes, lets demonize public employees and act like they are a bunch of talentless lazy scum that should just be grateful for having a job. Instead of acknowledging that good employees, whether private or public, are a rare commodity and I want, in the name of good governance, my government to be able to offer good benefits to keep good employees.

    But, by all means, lets vilify public servants. There’s not enough of that already.

  • Oh howdy neighbor!

    This van indeed does take up a lot space. I’ve even seen it parked in the handicap space that’s clearly reserved.

  • If this is a parking meter truck, that thing is probably filled with SO MANY COINS! (considering a quarter gets you, what? 7 minutes now?) Just start breaking in every night, taking the change for your own use (or as a bailout for the homeless) and the problem will probably solve itself. You also might goto jail, but hey, at least that pesky van will be out of your neighbor’s parking spots!

Comments are closed.