Dear PoPville – Emergency No Parking for 6 Months!?

Dear PoPville,

I’m trying to figure out what to do about this annoying Emergency No Parking situation going on in my neighborhood. A couple days ago, neighbors posted Emergency No Parking signs in front of their house, taking up the space about 5 or 6 cars would fit in. Then, a construction debris container was dropped in front of their house. That’s all fine, especially since there’s no back alley access to our back yards. However, they included reserved space for their construction company’s vans, that don’t show up until 10 a.m. or later. They put up traffic cones to reserve the spaces, even though they’re limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The worst part is, the permit is through June 30, 2012, so we have to deal with this for six more months.

The parking restrictions they’ve placed on the block are really excessive, considering it’s hard to find parking there anyway (it’s right behind Penn Ave. SE). I don’t believe you can reserve spaces for anything other than the “roll off debris container” that the parking permit designates the parking restrictions for, but they’re reserving another 3 car-lengths in front of the container. They’ve taken up like 20 percent of the parking spots on that side of the street. I’ve attached pictures to show what I’m talking about.

Any suggestions on who to call on this?

64 Comment

  • That is just utterly ridiculous. I just got a ticket from one of these emergency signs downtown but this is a residential neighborhood, I understand the frustration. I am convinced that soon it will be illegal to drive in the District.

  • Maybe the MPD substation nearest you since they are the ones who distribute them and see what they have to say. Though the few times I’ve gotten either a visitors parking permit or an emergency no parking sign they hand write it into a composition notebook that I’m sure either gets tossed or in a warehouse somewhere that they’d never find

    • I don’t think the MPD substations distribute them any more (although maybe they do and I’m wrong)… if I remember correctly from when I got signs (to move house), you could order and pay online, but to print them you had to go to the D.C. government office by Waterfront Metro.

      Maybe it was also possible to print from a substation, but I think it was still administered by DCRA, not MPD.

      • This is where you order/pay online:

        The permits are actually DDOT; I think DCRA is housed in the same building.

        • As of this past July, you could purchase them and have them printed at the police station. They had a kiosk and a printer.

          To address the OP, you can reserve for multiple reasons (i.e., dumpster, moving van, etc.). However, the sign needs to be specific for what you’re reserving them for. If you’re reserving for a dumpster, you can only put a dumpster there. If a moving van, then a moving van. Not sure about contractors. But, if it is not on the signs, then the contractors are also illegally parked in between the “Emergency No Parking” signs.

          I’d talk to your local police substation if I were you about that. They shouldn’t be reserving parking spaces outside of the enforcement time frame. So, move the cones and park there as long as you move your car by 7 am.

  • Me, I’m wondering how long before the OP’s neighbors find out about this thread and start posting on it.


  • I like the balls of the neighbor who thinks its fine to take up that much space on a street for 6 months.

  • Go on lilne to the MPD website for that police district. (,a,1239,q,543336,mpdcNav_GID,1523,mpdcNav,%7C.asp). (I assume it’s PSA 107??). Then go to the “District Roster” and send an email to the Lieutenant who’s in charge of that PSA. Just ask politely what the policy is for reserving that much space for such a long time in a residential neighborhood. When we had some traffic issues close to Coast Guard Headquarters, also in 1D, the Lieutenant responded that same day and had the issues resolved in a few days. They might say it’s a DCRA thing, but at least you’ve made the first inquiry and can go from there. Good luck.

    • You can get a fine if you take them down and are caught – I think it’s like $100

      • So don’t get caught… I agree, this is ridiculous. Either take down the signs outside of the dumpster, or call the police and get the contractor vans ticketed.

        Or deal with it by contacting CM or whatever other people suggest, seems to be the more effective thing to do ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I would contact Tommy Wells Constituent Services —

    They are pretty responsive. I don’t know what rules or recs that you can present. Perhaps take some photographic evidence to backup your assertion of your neighbor.

    And i agree. What a tosser.

    • I kind of agree tommy wells is a bit of a tosser. but not if your an african american church member who feels his/her congregation can come in from maryland and park anywhere they want. then he’ll bend over backwards for you.

  • A similar situation happened on my street last summer/fall. I don’t know where you live, but I’m a block off 18th where abysmal parking is considered the norm. 4 weeks, 8 street parking spaces, and this house has alley access with 2 plush parking spots. The developer paid $50 for those 8 spots for the entire month.

    I complained to my councilman and basically received a non-response. I agree 6 months is ridiculous, but if our council members don’t care, who else can do something?

  • Move the cones and park your car. The parking restriction covers the container, nothing more. They cannot reserve on street parking for their contractors.

    • I agree. They’re sort of screwing the system by blocking off more spaces. If it were me, I’d also leave a note in the dash explaining why you can park there (ie, the emergency signs only specify the container itself).

  • Yeah – that’s ridiculous. Sorry you have to deal with this. I would definitely talk to MPD and/or DCRA to get clarification on the cones. If they’re legitimately permitted to have the spaces where the cones are then that needs to be reflected ont he ‘no parking’ notification and the hours changed. If it’s not changed then move the cones and park there between 7pm-7am. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ah

      Of course, as soon as we get an inch of snow on the ground everybody else in the neighborhood will be out there reserving spaces with chairs and other junk, and no one will think anything amiss.

      • Good point, ah. I hate it when people “reserve” shoveled out spaces. I know they did the work, but it’s inefficient. I grew up in snow country and never encountered parking snow cones until I moved here.

        • Then your snow country must not have been too urban. Chicago does the same exact thing with the snow cones, or lawn chairs, or whatever else people can find that they don’t care too much about. Reserving shoveled spots is NOT a DC thing.

  • At the very least you should move the cones and park there from 7PM to 7AM. Those hours are not restricted according to the sign.

    Also it looks like there is a name and phone number at the bottom of the sign. Is that the person who requested them or the person responsible for issuing them? If the latter, that’s probably a good place to start.

  • Happened down in Bloomingdale on T Street NW. When they were redoing the “Flatiron” the construction crew had permits for a dumpster for about 6 months. They also used it to park their equipment (backhoe, scissor lift) as well as their personal vehicles.
    Seems like DC needs to consider the impact things like this has on the residents. Check with DCRA too, the people doing the construction SHOULD have informed the people impacted by their work of what they were going to do. I say SHOULD because 90% of the time this doesn’t happen.

    Good luck to you…

  • As the spouse of a contractor, I kind of solute these folks for reserving convenient spaces for their contractors. Can you imagine walking several blocks every time you need a tool out of your vehicle. That consumes so much time and you are paying for it. Not to mention the parking tickets incurred for not having that zones parking sticker. If the OP is a home owner you are benefiting from the value your neighbors are putting into their house in the long run and it is a temporary situation. But I will agree that they should only reserve the space they need and no more.

    • — Sorry, but that’s the cost of doing work in the city… parking sucks for all. If it was thought out enough, they could park in the back.

      • wait a second. that’s the cost of doing work in the city? no legal means to park. that’s your solution? your obsession is blinding you.

      • “Sorry, but thatโ€™s the cost of doing work in the city”

        That’s what he says when he charges you that extra time (or lost time) for going back and forth to his vehicle and his parking ticket.

    • The homeowners can get those guest parking passes from the police station for the contractors to park within the zone. If the homeowner is too lazy to do it, the contractor should raise it with the homeowner. If they don’t that’s their problem and no teary eyes from me.

    • As someone who is exploited by contractors’ prices and failure to keep deadlines, I do not share your opinion.

      • Um, I hear you, but making contractors park farther away from your house is almost certain to increase both the cost and their failure to finish work on time.

        • But why inconvenience many of the neighbors by taking away much of the street parking just so one homeowner can save some dough? Selfish.

    • Your husband needs to look at his business plan and project management skills. If workers are constantly running to get items from their trucks, your husband is not planning well and because of his poor planning his staff are consuming valuable time that is costing him money.

      He also needs to look at a business model where he passes business costs on to his clients when it is business related and parking costs are business related.

      But naaaaw, applaud the continued gaming the system, screwing over others, so your husbands life is easier.

      • 6 months sounds like a total renovation. Dry wall, different tools. Plumbing, different tools. Not to mention adaptations that have to be made as the project progresses. I can go on. Plus, the homeowners may be living in the house during construction and need your presence minimalistic so tools need to be removed daily. We don’t know the circumstances. I am just trying to bring light to the other side of the coin.

        And unfortunately, the homeowners do bear the costs of parking issues, not the contractor.

        • And all of that is covered under project manangement.

          Fortunately, the cost is paid by the purchaser, not the purchasers neighbors.

      • I think the idea is that a) unloading all of your tools every day and then loading them all up again at night is a bigger time waster — especially if it would take several trips that are a couple blocks each way.

        If the contractor’s men are only there from 10am to 7pm, it not likely they themselves are screwing anyone over. You’d already be at work at 10am. If they’re driving to work, they’re already going to take up several space, meaning the overall daytime parking in the neighborhood is the same either way. You’re giving the men is a place to park that doesn’t get them tickets, while not causing the neighbors harm.

        The harm here was done by whoever requested the signs — they should have asked for 900am til 7pm. Most people are used to having to move their cars in anticipation of 930am street cleaning anyway. This would reserve the spaces closest to the house for workers, while not impacting the parking volume during the day — all while not risking tickets for neighbors who leave for work after 7am. That part is utter BS.

        I don’t think you can even perform work until 8am in DC because of noise ordinances. I wouldn’t be surprised if the city gave them a 12 hour block of time because that’s some kind of standard thing they do.

        • And, if you park a couple of blocks away, there are things called carts that fold up, and they have wheels. Or you could begin loading by having one team member be the tool loader… or you could insist that the live in client allow for tools to remain onsite (or increase there cost)

          Again, project management. I am not saying the day to day crap for contractors is easy or that parking anywhere in this city is not a pain in the patoot. But I just don’t agree that contractors – who knowingly take jobs in DC should receive special rights rather than adjust theior businesses to their surroundings.

          People complain about the DC Council and their “we can park anywhere anytime as long as we are on city business, which we always claim we are” law… and now want businesses to be able to receive preferential parking over residents?

          • anon, you didn’t address the main point in my horrible, sloppily written post. (I wrote in on my cell phone.)

            These guys are going to park in your neighborhood regardless. Why not give them the spaces that will help them do their jobs?

            Your life isn’t changed or affected by having these men park near a specific house. Why are do you insist on making life harder for them — and more expensive for the homeowner who foots the bill for inefficient ways of working.

            I get that people are angry at the idea that someone gets a space. But think about it for a second. What are these guys going to do? Rent a space for a couple weeks or a couple days? (Many of the people working on this project aren’t going to be on for the full 6 months. Most will work intermittently.) Do you really expect a plumber who works on several different projects over the course of a month or two to rent several different parking spaces on a temporary basis (as if one could even rent spaces temporarily).

            You’re long on criticism and short on solutions.

          • I’ll add, everyone gets preferential treatment for parking — when they have a reason. Moving companies — not the people moving — are the beneficiaries of parking restriction signs. The person hiring the moving company isn’t doing any work. Why not have the movers use dollies to move the equipment down the street, to wherever the movers could find parking for the truck?

            Why not? The same argument you just used applies equally to contractors and moving companies. Movers cause parking restrictions every day in different places; contractors cause parking restrictions every day in more or less the same place. Really, I think we ought to give both types of companies the access they need to do their job as quickly as possible — so they can get the hell out of there.

        • A lot of people in D.C. who have cars don’t use their cars to get to work.

          Street cleaning doesn’t uniformly begin at 9:30 a.m. On my block, I think it’s 12:30-2:30 or something like that. And street sweeping is suspended (except for major roads) during November, December, January, and February.

          • Still, parking is at its low ebb in residential neighborhoods during the day. Even the nightmare neighborhoods (Dupont, Adams Morgan) are parkable at 11am during the week if you have a zone 2 sticker.

    • I know! right!…And all those people driving in from Maryland on their way to the DC based jobs who have to pick up and drop off their kids at the day care that was forced in our residential neighborhood deserve to double park and block traffic in both rush hours..not the least to say all of my neighbor’s nannies have every right to park on the block. come to think of it I have EVERY RIGHT to park in front of my office building because I am doing such a great job for my company and I am not appreciated enough. GET A F’ING GRIP!

    • Look if i were a neighbor of this guy, I’d be fine with the minor annoyance of parking a little further away from my house temprorarily in order to have a nearby house transform from an eyesore to a pretty house. Why make it harder on construction that improves the quality of the neighborhood?

  • I hate to ask this, but have you spoken to the neighbor about this? Granted if you do and they don’t do anything and you end up getting the signs taken down by some other means they’ll know it was you, but it is also possible that you might be able to come to some sort of agreement. I know, very Pollyanna of me, but it might be worth a try.

  • The District makes it easy for the system to be exploited like this. I rented a 10′ U-Haul truck and tried to get an emergency no parking permit for last Saturday. I went on to the DDOT TOPS system, and it did not allow me to reserve parking for anything less than 88′, and they wanted to charge me $55 for this. In the end, I never paid for the permit and just parked illegally for an hour as the truck was loaded. Had I paid for the permit and received the signs, I would have legal blessing to occupy a good 70′ more than what I needed. It’s ridiculous.

    • That’s weird. About a year ago some selfish donkey put up signs for half a residential block for one moving van. Granted it was more than 88 ft., but the manager of DDOT’s public space permitting office told me that you’re only allowed 2 car lengths. Not enough for a big truck, but still.

      To the OP, a call and email to DDOT led to an inspector coming by and taking down most of the signs

      And no, you’re not allowed to reserve spaces for contractors’ personal vehicles. Let them deal with logistics like everyone else does.

  • As previously noted, they’ve got a restriction limited to a roll-off debris container (and even then only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). The cones can be tossed at any time and the spaces adjacent to the container used by whoever gets there first. There also does not appear to be a 24-hour permit for the container. I would even try to get somebody to issue this jerk a ticket every night at 7:01 pm if he doesn’t move the debris container off the street until 7 a.m. the following day.

  • Throw the cones into the dumpster to get them out of your way.

  • Very interesting, I didn’t realize that you could get a emergency parking permit for 6 months span, especially on a residential area of the city, double check this. Permit posted is only for debris container and only from 7am-7pm, and it doesn’t cover contractor vehicles, those vehicles are subject to the same parking restrictions as everyone else. If this was my block I would talk to my neighbors and if everyone has the same grievances I would then talk to the owner, developer and general contractor for the site and tell them of the problems. Trust me when I say communication in a two-way street. I’ve lived next to home that was completely gutted and it took them a year to finish the whole project and the contractor took into consideration the adjoining neighbors concerns, because he knew any delays would be costly to the project.
    If talking to all the parties gets you nowhere, that is when I would start with your local ANC, then DCRA for enforcement. Also it is never a good idea to leave a dumpster overnight for any time longer then a day. This contractor is making it to easy for others to use it.

    • tonyr

      Yeah – if you want to get rid of any old mattresses/TVs/assorted junk, just bring them down here, after 7:00 p.m., and dump them in the dumpster

  • People who live on Capitol Hill need to get some hobbies or something more productive to do with their lives.

    Yes, your neighbor is being obnoxious by hogging all of the parking on your side of the street. But seriously, parking on the Hill is not at all difficult if you don’t mind walking a block or two. Unless you are physically disabled, you should not be worring that you can’t park directly in front of your house. Try parking anywhere between Columbia Heights and Georgetown and you will see what “difficult” parking is like.

    As somebody else mentioned, why don’t you knock on your neighbor’s door and ask them nicely to be more considerate. They will probably work something out with you.

  • DC emergency no parking permits are just one small part of a completely broken system. There is no oversight, no tracking, no actual review of permit applications that are submitted by individuals to reserve space in residential areas. You pay for them online and they are approved instantly. Once you pay, all you have to do is go to your local police station to print them out. Good luck getting ANYONE to sort this out for you – parking enforcement, police and the permit office will all just direct you to call each other. They have NO IDEA what they are doing. I moved a few weekends ago and tried to use these signs. I paid for the permit ($55) and posted it 72 hours in advance per the instructions. The morning of my move, cars are parked where I had posted the signs. I called parking enforcement/police/etc and eventually, hours later, a cop did show up. He literally said that these signs are not enforceable and that there was nothing he could do about it. So that was the response, on a weekday, that I got from all of these different agencies (even the police) and I was the one who paid for and posted the signs. I mean, A POLICE OFFICER at one point told me to call 911 about it. 911?!? You can complain but absolutely nothing will happen. Save yourself the frustration and just accept it. Or don’t accept it – you could probably buy another permit for yourself for some fake reason and post it over theirs. What’s going to happen? Nothing.

  • So much misguided outrage. DDot requires some of these no parking areas. We lost a full block and a half of spaces even though the developer only needed and wanted a few spaces. It is often not up to the homeowner.

  • In my neighborhood alone, we have three of these huge dumpsters for three different projects that are going on in less than a block radius. One, I can deal with; however, three is crazy. I have been on the otherside as-well while I was moving and was advised that they were un-enforcible. I park in front of those signs whenever parking is not available and no movement has occurred in front of those projects. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • There’s a phone number on the bottom of the signs of the person who requested the no parking restriction, and his or her name is printed right above it. I’ve discovered a phone call or two as I’m circling the block looking for parking at 10pm, 1am, 5am, etc to ask them why they feel entitled to all that unused parking, can usually encourage them to be a tad more reasonable ๐Ÿ™‚

    Or, just do what everyone else on here is suggesting – tear the signs down in the middle of the night except for the ones right in front of and right behind the dumpster, and any time you find cones blocking spaces, just deposit them in the lovely dumpster your friendly neighbor has provided for orange traffic cone storage ๐Ÿ™‚

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