Dear PoPville – Parking Suggestions for non DC Residents?


Dear PoPville,

I’m a bit confused, and I’d love help on a issue related to DC parking. My boyfriend lives in Virginia, and drives to visit me on the weekends in Columbia Heights. My street is not zoned, so any cars are welcome to park there, however he has received tickets for failure to secure DC tags. He is not a DC resident, nor does he plan to move to DC, but he does visit each weekend, and therefore falls within the twice in 30 days rule. He’s successfully secured a ROSA for the last couple of years, but this year it appears he has been denied. He doesn’t fall under any of the reciprocity permit options, so we are really at a loss. I understand the spirit of this rule, but what other options do Virgina residents who frequently visit the city have?

84 Comment

  • “what other options do Virgina residents who frequently visit the city have?”

    the metro

  • How was he denied a ROSA? You either live in DC or you don’t.

  • seems obvious, but:

    private garage / space
    or stagger where he parks

  • Been there, done that. Drove/Bussed to the metro before finally moving in. For you to get the failure to secure dc tags, I think there’s a bit more parking than just the weekends. I’ve seen the Fri morning-Mon evening type of ‘weekend’ get people nailed, but just Sat/Sun I’ve never seen out of state.

  • You could go to the police station and get him a two week temporary permit. You’ll have to keep doing it though and they might catch on after a while, but they don’t keep track of who they give them out to.

    • That depends. I got one this weekend and the officer recorded everything. In a spiral notebook that I’m sure nobody will ever look at it, but at least there’s the potential for them to find a pattern.

    • justinbc

      There is a limit to how many of these they will issue per resident.

    • Having a guest permit–either a two-week one or the permanent ones given out in some wards–will not stop you from getting a ticket for a ROSA violation.

    • The visitor parking permits don’t apply to a ticket for not securing DC Tags. I still got failure to display tags ticket when I was transferring ownership of a car and had a temporary parking permit.

      Go down to the DMV and sweet talk one of the ladies to make sure that you don’t get tickets for no DC tags. All other parking tickets are enforced separately.

  • Is overnight parking in DCUSA allowed? If so, I would suggest that since you live in Columbia Heights.

  • Easy, get a new boyfriend…..
    Just kidding.
    Try getting a temporary permit for yourself, and then just keep using it.
    At some point I was mailed a “guest” parking pass by DOT, so if you can get your hands on one of those, you’re really in luck.

  • I know they’ve gotten more strict about it, but I agree with [email protected]:37. He either lives with you in Columbia Heights (meaning he spends 50%+ of his time at your home) or he lives in Virginia. If he pays Virginia taxes, has a Virginia Driver’s license, has utilities in his name there, and has a lease or a mortgage on a property there, and spends 50%+ of his time there, he lives there, and it isn’t legal for him to plate his car in the District.

    I would contact your city councilmember and Chairman Mendleson’s office, and tell them to contact DC Police to get them to fix it (since most ROSA violators are caught overnight, it is DC Police, not parking enforcement, that monitors them).

    Don’t be afraid to email Cathy Lanier (Chief of Police) directly either – her email is [email protected], and I’ve found her to be particularly awesome at actually personally responding to a couple issues I’ve encountered over the years.

    • justinbc


      Had a former roommate’s boyfriend and a girlfriend both have to go this route and all tickets were eventually waived and their cars were never ticketed (for that offense) again.

    • I would also go to your councilmember (who is Jim Graham) and explain the situation. They can undo parking violations, usually.

      It seems like, in citing him, the police are making an assumption that he’s living in D.C. when in fact he can easily produce documents (lease/deed, bills, license, tags etc) that prove that he is not.

      That said, maybe he should move out of Virginia anyway.

  • thebear

    Don’t sweat it. All he needs to do is take the ticket, along with his license (showing his correct address), and a bank statement and a utility bill that was issued within within the last 30 days having that same address into the DMV to prove he is not a resident. Ticket gets voided on the spot. They only issue those if the vehicle has been seen in the same area more than once within a 6 month period. He’ll probably have to do it again but it isn’t the end of the world.

    • thebear

      Oh, not a bad idea to have his registration and proof of insurance as well. Sometimes they check everything, sometimes just the license and utility bill.

    • “They only issue those if the vehicle has been seen in the same area more than once within a 6 month period.”

      Not true. They will continue to issue these tickets if the vehicle doesn’t register for DC tags after 30 days. Now that his license plate is in the system he’s bound to get more tickets.

      • thebear

        Let me clarify. If you appear in person at the DMV with the requisite proof that you are not a resident, it is logged in the system and you will not receive another “failure to secure DC tags” ticket for at least another 6 months. That is how the system is set up. ROSA would be the better solution *IF* the person is not actually living here. If they do become residents then they *absolutely must* obtain a DC license and register the vehicle in the District.

  • First, an answer to your question: As I read the rule (, your boyfriend should be fine. There is no “30 day rule”. It’s just that if the car is seen twice in 30 days you’re eligible for the citation. You can appeal that citation with the same info as a ROSA, which he should be eligible for. It’s not that onerous. Essentially, just prove that you live somewhere else (lease / mortgage / utility / etc). Can’t understand why he was denied. I think your solution is just to get a ROSA exemption. That’s what it’s for. If he can’t prove out of state residency, then I’d say the system’s working.

    Second, a rant: I’m astounded that someone was ticketed for this. I honestly thought they didn’t do this. At least 4 or 5 of the people living on my block have been parking the same out-of-state cars on the street and in their driveways for over 2 years. Most Maryland tags, one Virginia.

    Heck, even I did it for a few months when I first got to town. I was wrong, even if my actions were understandable. It frosts me that people can live here for YEARS and not register. And then your boyfriend, who is behaving pretty reasonably, is the one who gets caught? That’s just wrong.

    • justinbc

      How hard is it to find parking where you live? I think that may have something to do with it. When I lived on Corcoran St, where it’s nearly impossible in the afternoon, they did it quite frequently.

      • I’d bet you’re right. Used to live on Capitol Hill, north petworth now. I suspect it was a lucky spot on Capitol Hill; the street was un-zoned and unlimited on one side. Kyle-W’s comment is interesting. Not that it matters for my car anymore, but several of my neighbors have gone well beyond 2 months (2 years for at least two cars that I watch!)

    • 2 friends of mine had out of state plates, lived on 1st st NE and P St. NE. Plenty of street parking available, no zone permit required, etc and they were ticketed ASAP (within 2 weeks), ordered to register their cars. Maybe you live in a “lucky” spot?

    • In northern Petworth, it took them about 2 months to find me. I promptly registered at DMV, and got no tickets.

  • I once lived on a block that wasn’t zoned for parking but the side streets were all zoned. Since my street wasn’t zoned I couldn’t get a zone parking sticker which meant if I couldn’t find a spot on my street I would have to park on the side street and a get a ticket. Your neighbors are likely in the same situation and probably don’t want your boyfriend parking in the limited spots.

    You can try contacting DDOT for a guest parking pass, but if your address isn’t in the system for zoned parking they may not give you a pass. If that’s the case, contact your council member.

    • PDleftMtP

      We have this problem in Mt Pleasant. Horrible, stupid rule – anyone can park in front of your house, so you can’t park anywhere else in the neighborhood. I understand where it came from (people driving across a mostly unzoned ward to park by the Metro), but it makes no sense close in.

  • I guess I’m confused about what ROSA is for. On the DC DMV site it explains that it is for cars housed in DC for “30 consecutive days” — not a couple of times in 30 days. To me, this would be to cover a contractor in DC for a few weeks or all of the military/Congressonal staff, not a routine weekend visitor.

    But I am also confused about parking in residential zones at times that are not covered (e.g. Sundays or evenings). Why are the parking people even monitoring those areas during those times?

    • “Automobiles housed in the District of Columbia for 30 consecutive days are required to be registered and display a valid DC inspection sticker and tags when parked or operated on public space.”

      If that’s what you’re talking about, then you’re reading it wrong.

      • I guess I don’t see how I’m reading it wrong – two Saturdays in a month is not 30 consecutive days.

        • The sentence I quoted doesn’t mention ROSA and isn’t talking about ROSA at all. The whole paragraph is awkwardly written IMO, but that sentence is talking about registering your car (i.e. getting DC plates), not applying for a ROSA exemption.

        • I think it’s written pretty clear. If you park your car for longer then 30 consecutive days in a city you need to register your car in DC and get DC plates.

          If you are observed twice in a 30 day period parking in DC at any time DC automatically assumes you live in DC begin warning you/ticketing you for failure to register your car.

          Thus if you are a out of district resident you must prove to DC you have an active residences elsewhere and thus are exempted from getting DC tags (IE ROSA). You do this with proof of a lease/mortgage, current utility bill, your car registration etc.

          DC will give you this ticket/warning even if you are legally parked.

          /Just got my notice a few days ago for the same thing as my ROSA exemption has expired
          //I got the notice at 1:30am on a Monday morning

          • So why doesn’t everyone in MD and VA just get a ROSA exemption and park in the district when they go to work?

          • Well, there’s this: “A ROSA exemption is NOT a parking permit, and it does NOT exempt a vehicle from DC parking regulations. For example, vehicles with ROSA exemptions are still subject to all Residential Parking Permit (RPP) restrictions in effect in the location where the vehicle is parked.”

        • ah

          That’s true, but they ticket on a presumption that if the car is seen twice in 30+ days it’s been here the whole time. You can prove to the contrary with documents.

          If they had to prove 30 consecutive days anyone could simply drive to Virginia once to avoid the rule.

  • If you think that your ROSA application was “denied” just because you didn’t hear anything from DMV, you should follow up with them because they may have just misplaced your paperwork (shocking, I know). Based on the facts, BF should still be eligible for ROSA if he can prove that he has a lease or mortgage outside of the District, a utility bill in his name for the property issued within the last 30 days, and a current out-of state vehicle registration. If you fax this material along with a copy of the parking citation to DMV’s “secret” ROSA fax number (202-727-7006), his ROSA exemption should be entered into the system reasonably promptly (by DMV standards anyway).

    • This seriously a good working number for ROSA?

      I was just about to mail all of my info in. You just might have saved me some time my friend. Cheers!

      • The number was “divulged” to me by a DMV employee when they lost my mailed-in ROSA paperwork in Sept. 2010, and it worked fine. I suggest enclosing a cover sheet on the fax specifying that it’s for the ROSA exemption, giving them your out-of-state tag number, and listing the documentation that you are sending for the exemption.

  • park in a private parking garage.

  • Please clarify your remark, “My street is not zoned, so any cars are welcome to park there.” That’s confusing. Obviously Virginia plate cars are not allowed to park there so what does that mean? Perhaps you misunderstand the parking restrictons on your boulevard?

    • OP means not zoned for RPP. VA cars are allowed to park there.

      • This remark only adds to my confusion. Oh well.

        • OP’s boyfriend did not receive parking violations, he received failure to register violations (or warnings, I guess). The issue is not a really parking issue but a registration issue; if the city sees the same out-of-state car in the same place more than once, they either want you to get DC plates or get a ROSA exemption. However, OP is claiming that boyfriend can’t do either (which doesn’t sound right to me) and therefore is trying to figure out another way for boyfriend to park when he comes into the city.

          So, back to your point, the street is not zoned for RPP and anyone can park there. But if you park the same out-of-state vehicle there repeatedly you might get a failure-to-register citation like the OP.

          • Wonderful expository writing. Thank you. Now I get it. I go with the “park in a private lot or garage” solution. Weekend rates are cheap.

        • VA plate cars *are* allowed to park there. They’re just not allowed to park there repeatedly without showing a ROSA sticker.
          “Not zoned” means that you don’t have to have a parking sticker for a particular residential zone to park in that block.

  • Virginia people should go back to Virginia. There I said it.

  • use your visitors pass and place in his window

  • My boyfriend used to have this problem coming up from Richmond on the weekends. It was fine the first few months and then started getting ticketed on weekends. We even moved his car from my neighborhood at the time to another and he still got ticketed. Eventually I caught on about the temporary permits you can get from the police station and they STILL ticketed him (which he fought and won).

    I’d say best bet is probably to park at a metro station outside the city that has free weekend parking or just bite the bullet and find a garage that allows overnight parking.

  • put his car in your name and get dc tags.

    • Sure, transfer the title, registration, and insurance to someone who doesn’t own or drive the car. (A) Fraud and (B) easier and cheaper just to pay a ticket now and then or resolve the ROSA status.

  • I’m not sure who all these people are who are suggesting to park at DC USA. I just checked their parking rates and it’s $20/day unless you buy monthly parking. Seems like a crap deal to pay $40-$60/weekend to park when you should be able to park right in front of your girlfriend’s house.

    Also anyone suggesting you just go to the DMV and straighten it out, no problem, has clearly never to been to the hellhole that is the DC DMV.

    Unfortunately I have no constructive advice for OP, except to try again for the ROSA exemption and complain your way up the chain if you’re denied again.

    • justinbc

      I’ve always worked with really nice people at the DMV in SE. One of them waived a hold for me and gave me a 45 day temporary pass while I was waiting on insurance because I was “a nice young man”.

    • I’ve lived in 6 states and the district, and DC DMV is far and away the best DMV experience of all of them. I am not being sarcastic or snarky, I really mean that.

      • I haven’t lived in as many states as you, but I’ve found DC to be the best as well. The DMVs in Northern Virigina are the absolute worst I’ve ever encountered (not surprising I guess because Northern Virginia generally has the worst of everything!).

  • This is a great discussion! I live on a traditionally zoned street (2 hours, M-F) and we have several cars that have “qualified” for the ROSA exemption. I recently spoke to a representative from CM Wells’ office, as well as someone from DMV and the ROSA thing seems like such a scam (at least to a full time DC resident). We have several cars that have allegedly claimed they live out of DC (MD, of course), yet park on my street every single night and weekend. But since they have the ROSA exemption, this is ok. From what I was told, ROSA enforcement begins when regular street enforcement ends and it is DPW, not MPD (to correct a prior post) that does this enforcement. Moving your car doesn’t help – they track if the car is in DC at all, regardless of zone/street. Once a car has a ROSA exemption, they are free to park on DC streets outside of enforcement hours. They ARE subject the 2 hour rules (or whatever rules are enforced on your street during the day). The temp parking tags issues by MPD ARE tracked – you can’t get an unlimited amount per visitor/household. They are recorded and logged. From what I’ve seen, the ROSA exemption hurts DC residents, as these cars can just park on the street all night/weekend without penalty. That said, I was told it is very easy to get the exemption – you show a lease/mortgage or something that proves you “live” out of state and boom! You get a free ride for a year.

    • justinbc

      Get a free ride? What do you suggest is done to these people who are following the laws? They’re paying registration fees, taxes, etc in another state already, it’s not exactly free. If you’re dating someone who lives just across the District lines they should be able to visit you more than twice a month without paying some penalty tax.

      • Metro, bus, you visit there, etc. There are clear violators – people who are spending every night/weekend in DC when they “live” outside of DC. That is what bugs me. I can understand a night or 2 or a weekend or 2, but every single day. Every single weekend? I think not.

        • So you’re getting on this soapbox because you really want them to register in DC the second they move? I don’t get it. Maybe they’re in DC only temporarily.

          This seems like a really trivial thing to get all worked up about.

        • justinbc

          Maureen, the problem with that is that there has to be some standard for enforcement. You can’t just write tickets for “that guy seems to be here too much”.

          • When you are parking on a DC street, every single night and you “live” out of state, then yes, your ROSA exemption should be taken away. There is no reason why the out of state interlopers should be able to take up parking spaces for people who actually live in DC (and pay all the taxes that go along with that).

          • maureen, can you please formulate a specific rule you would like to see enforced then? I get the spirit of what you are saying but really how does that work? So you’re not OK with it if they park here every night? How about every other night? How about no more than 4 nights out of any 7 consecutive nights? Once a week? Up to 5 times a month? Never?

      • they can visit. sure. but that doesn’t mean that their car has the right to be on our streets. off street parking is the way to go.

        • justinbc

          DC is not a country club or a gated community. If people want to park here and are following all of the posted laws they have every right to do so. Off-street parking is rarely an option because the District for whatever reason refuses to build new parking facilities.

  • as a dc resident you should receive a visitor’s parking pass for your zone. i have one and i let my boyfriend use it when he comes into town from maryland.

    • Those passes are only handed out if you live in certain parking zones – that is not something given to every single household

      • – and the abuse where they are handed out is widespread.

        Please, citizens: report DC residents who use the Visitor permit to DDOT. Help them to be honest citizens.

        Thank you.

    • Yes, but using a visitor parking pass doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t also need a ROSA exemption. They’re separate issues.

      • I used to live on a non-zoned street for a few months a year. I would rent a room in a house from a friend. I would be in DC for a month and then in Texas for a month, and my legal address was in Texas. I got ticketed as well and signed up for the ROSA and everything was hunky-dory.

        You can fight the tickets he got (even if they’re passed due) at the DC courthouse (talk about a parking nightmare). He just needs all of the proof that he actually is a VA resident.

        Then he needs to reapply for the ROSA. They’re probably pinging him because he’s signed up for it 2 years in a row (I had the same thing happen), but he should literally just keep applying till he gets one. If that doesn’t work I totally agree with a few posters who say to contact your local ward rep. They should be able to fix it or direct you to a place to fix it.

        The temporary passes don’t help. They’ll ticket you with those in your window faster than you can say ticket-happy. The only pass that will prevent ticketing for out of state cars that I’ve seen is the ACTUAL hard-hang-tag that is only given out to some residents in certain areas (which in my opinion is bogus, everyone resident should get one).

        And as for the people saying, “park at a metro in metro in,” why would ANYONE want to use the metro on the weekend. You’d be stuck in various places for hours having to deal with the track work a nightmare in my opinion.

        My other suggestion is to visit him in VA more often… VA is for lovers… juuuuuust saying. Haha!

  • First, the dc “park at the metro in Vienna” snobs should all eat a bag of Ebola-covered broken glass. Nobody cares where you pay taxes or how important some of you think you are. Get off your imaginary moral high horse.

    Second, the tickets will all be dismissed at the DMV if you bring a copy of your current lease, a current utility (not cable, phone, or Internet) bill, proof of id, and current registration. I’ve been in the exact same position. Also, in CoHi, there are a couple of blocks on 11th that have restriction-free parking.

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