Dear PoPville – Ridiculous ticketing and towing this Morning

Dear PoPville,

I live on the 1400 block of 21st St NW. This morning at 8a I found all the cars on the block ticketed and a tow truck preparing to move another vehicle. The No Parking signs (posted yesterday morning) had been changed overnight or early this morning to read 6a-2p instead of the original 9a-2p. The block was cordoned off by a police van, and when questioned, the officer on the scene was completely unhelpful and said he had no idea who changed the sign nor when the signs were changed. I will obviously contest the ticket. I would urge my neighbors to contest theirs as well.

74 Comment

  • From the FAQ at DDOT:

    : When should I post my Reserved Parking or Emergency No Parking signs?
    District law requires that signs be posted 24 hours in advance at metered spaces and 72 hours in advance at non-metered spaces.

  • This is exactly the kind of petty bureaucratic bullying and corruption that keeps many of us suburbanites from buying a place in D.C. I refuse to be subject to a city government that treats its citizens this way.

    • OK, thanks for letting us know.

    • Yes, it’s awful here. Please stay away.

    • I agree, I would love to buy a place in DC, but if I can’t trust the government here, so instead I will likely end up making as much money as possible and then moving to a city with a less intrusive, more responsible government.

      Its a shame because a lot of things about this place rock.

    • Actually, I find city services to be very good and improving each year since I moved here 7 years ago. This post is an exception in my view. But, yeah I guess you make your own (perceived) tradeoffs in life.

    • I agree. I think you should def. stay in the suburbs.

    • And you are the reason we stay in the city.

    • Oh, and where do you live? I experienced MUCH more petty bureaucratic bullying and corruption when I lived in Northern Virginia (can’t speak for MD). One of the reasons I moved to DC was to live in a place where I don’t feel as threatened and controlled by the local government and police force.

      I honestly don’t think DC government was to blame here– they were just doing their job. The sign poster is the one at fault for not having the correct time on their signs in the first place. DC’s very fair and reasonable when it comes to dismissing tickets, so I’m sure everyone involved will be refunded (especially if several complain). Still, it’s an unfortunate headache for everyone involved.

      • clevelanddave

        Come on… you know the general lack of competence among many in city leadership over a long period of time (see todays Councilman pleads guilty after FBI sting) that sometimes works its way down (see Michele Rhee’s dismemberment of the Central Office) which impacts the schools, services, etc, and the higher taxes we pay for it all reduce home prices here by 10-20 percent over where they would otherwise be, and another 10-20 percent because of the generally poor schools compared to Northern Virginia and Maryland. Not obeying your own laws and regulations (see PoP article the day before yesterday about Councilman Orange (or Barry or take your pick) parking their cars where they want) has its price, and all of us here pay it.

    • Yes, move to Montgomery County, where the government tells you what hours you can cut your grass, what wines restaurants can sell and a whole list of nanny state crap.

    • I don’t think you’re being fair. Before passing judgement, let’s wait until the President visits the Cheesecake Factory in your town, so we can see how the local government deals with it. Oh, wait…

  • Gotta love DC.

    We got a $50 ticket in front of our house at 3a for not properly having the zone sticker/reg or whatever affixed to the window. It was on there clear as day, I can’t help that it was losing the adhesive grip. It wasn’t like you couldn’t see or read it, it was clear as day and had our car type and VIN number plus it didn’t expire for another month. My wife got it dismissed yesterday and talked to the magistrate who said that they should have never given you a ticket for this. My wife asked what was up and the magistrate said that there is a unit in DC traffic (I forgot the name, something like ROUSA or something) that goes out at night and gives tickets to nonresidents and people without proper registration. That is fine, I get that but the real issue is that she said that they also have quotas and the uppers are pretty hard on them to make said quota.

    • What tickets can they give to non-residents at night (who have valid registration stickers and obeying the times posted)?

      • Google “Registration of Out-of-State Automobiles (ROSA) in DC”.

        • Ah thanks. I was afraid I could get ticketed for crashing at a friend’s place rather than drive home intoxicated or something. Looks like that’s not a problem, only if a car is in DC for 30 days does it become one. Unless an overzealous Enforcer is feeling like a hero.

          • Or it is the end of the month and they need to meet their quota = ticket for you.

            And I wouldn’t take the 30 day thing literally, I would imagine they also can scan you, have thirty days pass, see your car on the 31st day, see you in the system and give you a ticket.

          • ah

            Yeah, you’ll never encounter an overzealous enforcer in DC.

            In theory on ROSA you’re supposed to get a warning if your car is spotted twice (or 3 times) in a 30-day period, and then a ticket. You can get out of the ticket by proving non-residency (lease, mortgage, utility bill, etc.)

          • Happened to me exactly at the the 30 day mark. I got a ticket at 4 AM on a Saturday night giving me two weeks to change my plates. I was pretty impressed.. My car was parked all over DC for those 30 days (was trying to figure out where to live/subletting/staying at my boyfriend’s etc) and got caught right on time!

          • The funny thing, that prior to my current situation, I had MN tags for like a year and parked directly across from the police station and never got a ROSA ticket. I think I only really got two total tickets in the year, since I didn’t have zoned parking. I guess they thought I was a fellow cop and taking care of one of their own. Or maybe it was because I lived in the hood 42nd and Benning and nobody really cared.

            Oh and vistor parking is bs too. When I went to get it, they told me that unless you are the owner you can only get two vistor parking passes per year and they are only good for 15 days. Outside of that you are screwed. I think if you are the owner, you get a permanent one.

        • until you get a notice to register you dont have to worry if you are out of state. once you get the notice you can apply for ROSA exemption if you can prove you have a lease or utility bills outside of DC. works w/o problem if you live in md or va but i dont think DC will buy it if you are from elsewhere.

      • From what I was told non-DC tags are not allowed to park on residential streets. Normally they give you a mailed warning but then they really start to hit you with huge fines. Have you ever seen traffic at like 2 or 3 in the morning. They are driving by and the cameras are collecting plates, if yours comes up as already having had a warning (over a certain time), they will give you like a $100 ticket and then it goes to $250…I know this because I for some reason was going to my car early in the morning one time and saw the van and was very curious beacause I could’t fathom why they were giving tickets and then I noticed most of the non-DC plates had tickets, I asked what the deal was and they told me that you non-DC residents can’t continually park on residential streets. I said, what if I was taking care of my mother, coming to see my kids (not that I have any) or whatever and they told me that they don’t make the rules. Has anyone else had the experience. I’m not saying you will get a ticket but you definitely can get one for this.

        • People who live in DC have to register their cars here. If they don’t, they get a ticket. If a nonresident recurring visitor needs to park in DC frequently they need to inform the DMV and get a ROSA exemption. It’s all on the website.

        • Yes, the ROSA rule is enforced in a totally BS way. As a MD resident dating a DC resident, I parked overnight in DC a few times, in two different neighborhoods, but never consistently. At U and 13th, literally 4 months after the last time I’d parked overnight, I got hit with a $175 ticket. Getting the exemption was a pain (had to bring all sorts of notarized documents with me since the car is registered to my father, had to go during the workday to Judiciary Square, etc), but so far it worked. What a waste of time.

          • Sorry, but as a DC resident and property owner whose street gets parked up with MD plates I have no sympathy. I live there, I have to park there, the spots should not be taken up by non-residents. As a non-resident you have many options, like leaving your car home.

          • thebear

            My partner hasn’t moved in with me yet and is still a legal resident of Maryland. He has received notices a couple of times that his car was parked overnight 2 or more times within 6 months. All he had to do was go into DMV with his license, registration, most recent WASA bill and bank statement showing matching the address on the lic/reg to establish he is not a DC resident. He was parked on P…it might be different if you’re on a street signed residential.

          • thebear

            Um, my brain isn’t working right this afternoon. WSSC, not WASA. Pretty much, if you can provide basic documentation of your current legal address being outside the District they won’t bother you for at least 6 months. Then again, as I said, if the rules are different for residential parking or they actually ticket you, you probably do have to jump through more hoops.

        • Arlington residents who live in residential zoned parking areas have booklets of hang-tags that they can simply punch with the date and hang on the mirror for visitors. Babysitters, dinner guests, unexpected overnight crashers – no problem.

          Way too logical, simple and fair for our banana republic.

      • I got many, many tickets for being a nonresident. At all times. Weekends. 2 AM. With visitor’s tag. You name it.

    • I should note that the decal was still on the window but was curling up from heat and the loss of adhesive. I was also told that people complained that the old ones were too hard to get off so they made them not as sticky last year hence the problem.

      • Good to know… mine has been coming unstuck too. I added Scotch tape on the side where it was falling off, and now the other side is coming unstuck! I’d better Scotch-tape that side too, to avoid being ticketed.

        • Glad my comment gave you fair warning so that you don’t have to waste hours at the damn courthouse dealing with the bs. It really is a shame, I mean you can read the damn decal but you want to take it there and screw with my life. Get that bad boy taped up.

    • I got the same ticket! Maybe two months ago, directly outside my house. I have DC plates and the correct zone sticker, so when I went outside and saw the ticket I couldn’t figure out what it was for. It cited “permit not affixed to windshield”… which is a complete and utter fabrication. It was (and still is) very much stuck to the window. The only explanation I could think of is that it’s kind of crooked since my arm didn’t fit very well into the nook between the dashboard and windshield. I took 6 pictures, went online and contested it, and the ticket was thrown out. Complete BS.

  • I was wondering what the point of this post was, but now I get it. It’s “Random Reader Rant (no Revels allowed): DC Government Edition.” [DC residency not required.]

  • Definitely contest it. I have had similar experiences in my neighborhood – signs changed overnight or more signs added to already existing ones, making it utterly impossible to know which one to obey. I have truly believed at times that there’s a parking ticket SCAM going on in DC. Most people can’t take the time it requires to go in for a hearing to contest, so end up just paying that $25, $30, $50 dollars… adds up. Really messed up.

    • This is very true. They know most of the time, working people don’t have time to deal with the foolishness and just pay it. But it really can be worth it especially if the tickets are large. Many of the times tickets can be dismissed for being written improperly. I know first hand, during the snowstorm a year or two ago, I got a $250 snow emergency route violation ticket that had doubled thrown out because it was improperly written. What really pissed me off was that I had nowhere to park because the streets weren’t clear and I damn sure wasn’t walking 5 blocks or more when I only was going to be inside for 5 minutes and I had asked an officer if I was OK there only who said yes only to have another officer give me a ticket. I really lucked out because MPD normally don’t write street tickets hence it being written improperly. FTW, when you get tickets, it needs to state which was your car was facing/the side of the street you were on, if not they should throw it out.

    • You can now contest by mail, and it has actually worked for me. One important note, though – do NOT pay the ticket before the appeal is decided. I paid one thinking the fine would be doubled if I lost, and they rejected my appeal because the fine was paid. As long as you submit the contest by mail in time, the fine won’t double whether you win or lose.

      • And this is where they get most people. They say in A LARGER FONT THAT YOU HAVE 60 DAYS TO CONTEST THE TICKET but if you flip it over and read the smaller font, you find that you are responsible for the fine and must pay the fine in 30 days or it will double.

        They know exactly what they are doing. It really is sad that DC relies so much on tickets for revenue. I know many cites do as well but DC is on “A HOLE NUVA LEVEL”. lol.

        • ah

          Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. You’re basically doubling down on the appeal though.

          • Correct but at least in Vegas you can see what cards you have and the dealers first card.

            Your comment was right on time, I leave for Vegas on Monday for a week, can’t wait. I love Blackjack.

      • You can also contest over the internet but I find that in person is the best way to get it done as you never know why they might deny you. Being there to defend yourself gives you more options to explain, ask questions and learn…

    • i don’t know. i had a similar circumstance to the OP’s (times weren’t changed, but the signs were put up less than 24 hours before the stated start time) and contested by mail. it didn’t work for us. they said we had to have proof that the emergency no parking sign was not there when we parked…which of course we didn’t have, b/c why would we have taken a picture of our car in what was a perfectly legitimate, non-metered parking space?

  • I was in that area around 9, and it looked like there were some diplomatic or political muckity-mucks having breakfast or something. I didn’t see what was going on, but a lot black cars and suits.

  • From the photo, you should check into that sign. It looks outdated to me… Per my recent move, I found out that the city’s new system requires you to pay $50 per ‘No Parking’ sign (they used to be free), then you have to go to one of the police stations to print out your signs on their machines, making your requested ‘No Parking’ time /location un-editable.

    • Complete guess here, but that might be the case for residents who are requesting and posting the signs, but not if it’s MPD, DDOT , etc…

    • So strange… when I moved 2 years ago, I needed a sign for our moving truck. I had all my documentation that I was moving and went to the V St. Police Station. As the above poster mentioned, it was free then. Also, they barely made me prove that I was moving/a resident in their precinct. It was blank then, and you could write it in.

      Maybe that’s all changed. I feel good about myself that I post the sign definitely 72 hours in advance – and did not modify it! So sorry to hear about your ticket.

    • Good question. I was going to say that it looked like this was a sign issued directly by the MPD, as opposed to one issued by DPW… but maybe they used to be issued by MPD.

      I moved recently too, and my sign didn’t look like the one above, but I was going on the assumption that signs related to dignitaries/muckety-mucks maybe look different than the ones issued to regular people moving house.

  • My favorite so far- I live in CH with a motorcycle. You have to stick the zone sticker on the license plate (DC law). I got a ticket for not having one displayed. He then wrote down my license plate number… right next to the sticker. Dum.

  • Collin, I had a similar ticket in Shaw. I have FL plates but live in the city and have a parking permit. I was ticketed for residential parking. I get that FL plates would cause them to think this. The part that kills me is the ticket was put under my wiper blade directly over my non-expired DC parking permit! Probably the same genius that ticketed you. Parking enforcement in DC is a complete SCAM to rip off anyone and everyone…

  • thebear

    It’s some kind of dignitary thing. Lots of MPD and security presence in the 2000 & 2100 blocks of P. They have 21st closed south of P, as well as Twining Ct. The signs weren’t posted until late yesterday afternoon.

    There have been countless times that they’ll put up No Parking signs in the middle of the night with a really early start but claim they were up days before. We got towed on a Saturday morning several years ago when they put up signs sometime after midnight for 7AM-3PM. We had to shell out $275 for their BS…took over a year before we got it back even though the ticket was dismissed a month later. If it ever happens again, we’re sending it out to a collection agency if we’re not refunded within 5 days…it will be worth paying the fee just to screw with them for a change.

  • I’ve gotten a few parking tickets over the years – some valid and some not. My most recent was by far the most ridiculous though. In the mail I got notice of an unpaid ticket for a Ford (I own a Honda) parked on a block I have never even driven on. I have no idea how my name got attached to this other car in the system. I appealed and got a reply asking me to send in registration for the car in question. Um, I don’t own that car and that was my appeal in the first place. Oy.

  • I successfully contested a ticket back in the summer for the same thing on the 2100 block of O street. Definitely worth fighting.

  • You should definitely contest it, and with that photo you will win. I fought a no parking sign ticket a couple of years ago. A neighbor who organized a block party failed to post the signs 72 hours ahead of time. I was out of town for the weekend (no signs when I left) and had a ticket when I came back. My photos were nowhere near as clearly shady as yours and they let me off the hook with little-to-no argument. Good luck!

  • Send the picture of the sign in with the ticket contesting it. Clearly somebody screwed up and the ticket should be voided.

    Also if proper notification was not issued 24/72hours the ticket can be contested too.

  • Have you ever noticed you never hear about this type of thing in Marion Barry’s ward? LOVE to see somebody trying it down there lol. DC only messes with the rich white people because they will pay and not shoot the meter maid.

    • Riiiiiiiight. If I don’t hear about it, that’s because it’s not happening…

      • Hmmm. Before I’d make a judgment one way or the other, I’d like to see the data. Are tickets being disproportionately handed out in certain areas? Would be interesting to know…

    • You are an ignorant fool.

      As for the ticket, you should have no problem appealing it. Sucks that it happened, but mistakes do happen from time to time.

    • Maybe the reason you don’t hear about this happening in Barry’s Ward is because there is no Price of Barryville blog where residents of that Ward go to kvetch about every little problem they have and to seek validation of their complaints from their neighbors.

      As far as ticket agents only messing with “rich, white people,” clearly you’ve never seen “Parking Wars.”

      • as someone who lives in a part of the city that is not predominantly rich white people, no, they are not targeting you all. i have been issued almost every possible ticket dc has to offer and maybe half were actually deserved. the metermaids are indiscriminate in their zeal for screwing over their fellow citizens.

      • actually, there are plenty of ward 8 blogs, you should check them out and learn more about this fair city. google is your friend.

  • Definitely contest it. Take pictures, build up a good case and take it easy on the hyperbole. I had the exact same thing happen. They put up the no parking signs in the morning, towed me in the afternoon, and towed my car to an illegal space where I got a second ticket. I didn’t have to pay either, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who complained.

  • On a semi-related note, has anyone here had luck contesting a speeding ticket issued via a camera? Or at least getting the ticket reduced?

    • Those are definitely harder to beat and I haven’t heard of anyone beating them. I guess you would have to go with the how often are they maintained/calibrated defense, otherwise you have a hard way to go. I know in MN they were deemed unconstitutional at one point.

  • Everyone is missing the real story! PoPsters – the President was in the neighborhood for a meeting that was taking place at a building on the corner of 21 and P. Secret service combed the block. Kept everyone who live here inside or out of the way. This is part of living in DC. Motorcades, dignitaries etc. Yes – they should forgive the parking tickets for cars that were still parked before 9. The REAL QUESTION is what was Pres Obama doing in the neighborhood? Anyone got any news on that?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I’ll be posting an update on that at 4pm today.

    • POTUS had lunch at Scion today. There was filming going on in the restaurant after he left with the people he met with. Usually when POTUS comes to visit, they do tow away cars from the immediate vicinity. Secret Service edict.

    • You know you live in DC when getting a parking ticket is a bigger deal than the President being in your neighborhood. 🙂

    • thebear

      Yeah, anyone who lives here has to learn to cope with the dignitary tie-ups. The problem isn’t President Obama having been here…it’s the fustercluck with the signs not being posted properly in advance. Security would not have been compromised had they been up 24 or 72 hours before…just give some obscure excuse and be done with it. If we can land rovers on Mars in good shape, there’s no excuse for giving people proper notice that there’s a disruption coming.

      While it was obvious there was some VIP around, it wasn’t until the Presidential security showed up around noon. Not only was the street shut down, pedestrians were allowed to leave P Street, but no one was being allowed into the 2100 block at all until the President had left. (My ANC commissioner tweeted they weren’t letting him into his building around the corner from me on O, either.) Inconvenient, and a bit unusual if you ask me…The President and First Lady had dinner in the 2000 block last summer and while vehicles were detoured, pedestrians were not. While there is no question that keeping the President safe is the absolute priority, how would keeping people who live at the other end of the block out? (I’m surprised they didn’t tell everyone in the Westpark and Dupont West to stay off our balconies since they were being that tight.)

    • It used to be an American point of honor that our President was called “Mister.” Not “Sire” or “Your Highness” or “Your Excellency”. Just “Mister”.

      Kind of a quaintly meaningless tradition now.

  • About 5 years back when a DDOT contractor was resurfacing T ST NW. I noticed a guy putting up no parking signs the night before for the next day. After years of seeing these lazy contractors not putting up the signs 72 hours before as rehired by LAW I decided to take a stand the next morning.

    The following morning I witnessed a tow truck removing all the cars on the street. When it came to mine I came out of my house and put myself between the tow truck and my car. I told the tow truck (DC tow truck) that the signs were posted illegally and he was not allowed to touch my car. He, like most tow truck drivers did not like that, which was followed by him calling the police. The contractor was involved at that point as well and I was standing my ground. The police showed up and at first the cop told me to move my car. I said No, these signs were placed here illegally last night and are required by law to be placed 72 hours beforehand. I static that I expect him to enforce the law; the cop backed down and the tow truck and police left. At that int it was just me and the contractor. I eventually moved my car but I made it clear to this contractor that he should start following the law.

    Did it help or did the contractor start following the law. However, the view of the police and ow truck driver driving off with my car still parked where it had been the previous night was priceless.

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