“ADU (affordable dwelling unit) , forced garage parking and not allowed residential zone parking”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoPville,

I have had Zone 1 parking for the past 6 years. A year ago I won an ADU (affordable dwelling unit) lottery. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ADU, your rent is based off your income. This provided us a home that we could afford that wasn’t “managed” by a slumlord. I waited until my car registration expired before changing my address at the DMV. Just this was more financially feasible for us at the moment then to pay multiple fees at multiple times. The DMV told me that even though the surrounding streets are zone 1, that my block in particular is not allowed to have the RPP permit. Just my block. The apartment building had made a deal with the ANC that they wouldn’t allow residents to have RPPs and that they would keep the block strictly commercial.

I completely understand where the ANC is coming from, but now I have a major problem. Parking used to be about 165$ for the entire year to have zoned parking, and I was able to park in multiple locations in the zone. Now I am being forced to either park illegally on the street or pay $200 per month to park only in a garage (which I cannot afford). Neither one of these are options for us at the moment. Neither is getting rid of my car. My apartment building never mentioned in the lease or verbally that we would be forced to have garage parking.

Has anyone been able to work themselves around this type of problem? Or have any ideas of who I can talk to that can help us with at least finding affordable parking if we can’t have RPP? (Does ADU parking exist?) Or just any advice in general about this?”

76 Comment

  • Do you absolutely need a car? If not, I’d get rid of it. Life is simpler, easier, less expensive and less stressful. I understand it’s not feasible for everyone, but if there’s any way to work it out, you should try.

    • Says right in the post that getting rid of the car was not an option. Every time some issue like this comes up, and the OP’s say they can’t get rid of the car, there are multiple comments that amount to: “do you REALLY need a car?” I find this obnoxious. I’m sure this person considered this option and your comment wont be the lighbulb-moment, so it serves nothing except your own platform of self- rightenous.

      • Seriously half the comments on here are already ‘do you really need a car.’ Obviously he/she does or this wouldn’t be an issue.

        • It’s not obvious. I’ve had 3 friends who finally got rid of their cars once they figured how to make it work… though 2 of them lived somewhere pretty convenient already. It was 90% a mental block. People really do have mental blocks about being carless. It’s a very American attitude. (And yes, I’m American.)

          • “Neither one of these are options for us at the moment. Neither is getting rid of my car.”

            From this statement, it clearly is something he/she has thought about, therefore making it obviously. Some people need cars, some people don’t. We don’t know his/her situation other than what was clearly stated in this email.

          • maxwell smart

            ’tis true (says the person who will absolutely never part with his vehicle and therefore would not consider anyplace without parking).

          • “2 of them lived somewhere pretty convenient already”
            The problem usually isn’t where you live, it’s where you work. Something that’s a lot harder for the person to decide.

      • +1
        Many parts of the city (namely Georgetown and lower SE -just off the top of my head) aren’t accessible by metro. Perhaps OP works in one of these places.

        • -1
          Metro is not the only mode of public transportation. We have plenty of bus’s in DC and also bicycling is a great option. Not only is it free (well at least after subtracting the sunk cost of the bike) but you also propel yourself with your own fat. Win-win! All the car douches need to lay off this guy’s post.

  • I’m in the same position. Moved into an ADU in a brand new building where it’s $200 a month to park. The biggest racket is that the building doesn’t even manage the parking! It’s managed by another company. Went to the DMV to change my registration accordingly, and was told that they wouldn’t issue me a parking permit. But, that was only AFTER I had already paid to switch my registration. So, just got a visitor pass for zone 1 until I was able to sell my car. Now I’m car free. DO IT!

  • Accountering

    I don’t see this being a “racket” in the least. DC should be in the business of providing affordable housing for people, not for cars.

    • I agree. We need to dramatically shrink the parking zones and adjust cost based on the parking zone. Sure RPP in Logan Cirlce doesn’t need to be $250/month. But it need to be more than $3 per month.

      I’m not joking when I say we keep our second mostly unnecessary car because parking is so cheap. It’s paid off. Insurance is $30/month (bare minimum insurance with multi policy discount). Registration is $12/month. Parking is $3/month. That’s only $45/month fixed cost. Parking in my neighborhood goes for $200/month. If I had to pay $197 more per month to park the car I would get rid of it in a heartbeat.

    • Exactly!

    • Stop trying to make lower income people out to be second-class citizens, you would probably be pissed if the city took away your parking. This isn’t necessarily a luxury, many folks are dependent on vehicles to get to and from their jobs/other commitments and OP is obviously one of these people.

  • First, there’s no legal basis for restricting RPP’s based on certain buildings or agreements with the ANC. As long as your block has RPP, you can get an RPP no matter what building your live in. See this Urban Turf article. http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/carless_projects_prohibit_parking_but_will_dc_enforce_it/8297

    However, there are blocks that aren’t zoned RPP and yours is not. Check the DMV website for petitioning your blocked to be zone RPP. https://comp.ddot.dc.gov/SitePages/Residential%20Parking%20Permits%20(RPP).aspx

    • Thanks for the link to the Urban Turf article. That was fascinating; I didn’t realize that — both for better and for worse — developers’ promises of “building residents will not be eligible for RPP” had no teeth.

    • I read the article as meaning that the onus is entirely on the developers to submit a FOIA, but they can still evict residents. The only enforcement issue is that DDOT will still issue RPP’s.

  • If available in your area, get a Visitor Parking Pass (VPP): http://ddot.dc.gov/page/visitor-parking-passes Might not be the purpose of the VPP, but it’ll work for you.

  • What is preventing you from getting rid of the car?

    Do you need it to get to work? If so, you can still usually park at many of the green zoned spots until 9:00 AM and after 6:30 PM (i.e. 2 hours from the start and stop times) during the week and all the time on the weekends. You won’t be able to leave it at those signs for more than 2 hours between those times though. It’s not ideal if you want to come home earlier (you’ll have to move your car every 2 hours) but If you can alter your work schedule you may be able to park nearly as normally.

    Do you need it only occasionally? You can try to find a cheaper lot farther away. Or you could try to find a relatively nearby street without zoned parking that you can stash your car for a while. Just make sure to check on it weekly for emergency closures.

    Can you replace your car? Car-2-go and Zipcar provide two options to replace your car. If you aren’t using the car everyday these options can be cheaper over a year compared to the combined insurance, maintenance, and registration fees.

    • Doesn’t parking enforcement give you a ticket if they catch your car in a zone spot after hours (if you don’t have the proper sticker) if they see your car there more than once or something?

      • No. You’re thinking of ROSA. Where out-of-state vehicles park in DC. It’s to catch people from moving to DC and registering their cars.

        • Ah, got it! So that’s interesting…so let’s say my car (which is registered in DC and has a sticker for zone 3) is parked on a zone 2 street that after 8:30pm anyone can park, I can park there from 6:30 onward every day without worrying about a ticket?

      • I could be wrong, but I think that’s only in cases of ROSA violations (out-of-state tags).

    • Dude, he needs his car! Get over it. Not everyone can be car-less.

  • I’m a little confused. Parking illegally? You can still park (at least in the evenings through the mornings) on the street. There are areas that are zoned until 5pm, or midnight, whatever. They’re all different…at least in my ‘hood. Sure, it’s going to be annoying because you might have to pay a meter until 6 or move your car, but it’s way cheaper than $200 a month. My other suggestion is to shop around for garages. Maybe it won’t be right by your apartment, but within a couple blocks. I don’t know, but might be worth it if you can afford $100 month.

  • I’m in this same position. I think it is utterly ridiculous that zone eligibility are decided by specific streets, for whole neighborhoods.

  • You and the other residents in teh building will need to file a lawsuit. This is the new thing ANCs all over are doing to prevent parking but the City knows its on shaky ground legally but no one has actually filed suit. Its really been allowed just to appease ANCs to get development approved. You have no other recourse, there is no ADU parking equivalent. And this is really short sighted on the City’s part as well. Bascially one group of residents on a block is saying that a another group is not entitled to the same legal parking status as the “orignial” residents on the block. You are being discriminated against based on your address and your newcomer status.

    • Accountering

      Meh, address and newcomer status are not protected classes. This is a tough climb, and will likely be expensive. I would assume a building with ADUs is not going to be the one to file this case. I could see the Babes building in Tenleytown getting there though.

      • Yeah, let’s not trivialize the very real problems of discrimination in housing by casually throwing the word about to describe the fact that new buildings are built with different amenities — sometimes more, sometimes fewer. Let’s also keep in mind that free parking is not a human right in dense developments on top of metro stations!

  • Typically, those promises are made before construction and then broken shortly after once residents realize they can’t get residential parking.
    I think you get a petition signed (maybe a DOT process?) and then get the same rights. Next, I expect you to post “Dear Popville, why is there no available parking in my neighborhood.” and “Dear Popville, how do I prevent the next development from taking MY parking since they don’t want to build parking spaces.”

    Yay empty promises and extra profits for developers.

  • This: http://ddotfiles.com/db/RPP/rpp.php is a list of all the RPP blocks in the city. Check out the streets within a few blocks of your house to see if you can find a non-RPP one. If you can’t, I’d check Craigslist for a homeowner renting out a parking spot that they don’t need – that’s usually cheaper than paying the going rate at a big garage.

    • That’s not always the case. My block is listed on that PDF, and yet the DDOT told me it was NOT eligible.

      • Are both sides of your block zoned RPP?

        • No, they are metered. Still, we’re listed on the RPP database as eligible.

          This is not intuitive to someone new to DC.

      • Similarly, my block was zoned for permitted parking and we were NOT on the list, so I couldn’t get an annual Visitors Parking Pass for my girlfriend. I had to talk with 4 different supervisors and they had to send out someone to physically inspect our street signs to ensure I wasn’t lying. It took over 2 months to get it sorted out and get a VPP in my hand.

  • Do you need a car daily? There are parking lots in Ballston and Courthouse that cost $50/month and and very metro accessible. If you only need the car a couple of times a week it might be worth it, even though I know it would be annoying.

  • The bottom line here–aside from the predictable snark and “Get Rid of Your Car!” screamers–is that you are a victim of the District’s antiquated RPP system. It was devised in the 1970s when Metro was installed. The purpose was to prevent suburbanites from driving into DC and parking near a Metro stop to commute into downtown.

    In 2014 the RPP system is as inefficient and senseless as the old Depression-era taxicab zone system. It needs to be changed. I spent months lobbying my councilmember, Muriel Bowser, to work to change the system. Her staff and the DDOT staff as well were wholly uninterested in the discussion.

    • I’m curious what your ideas are to make the RPP system work better.

      • what has changed between 1970 and today that would prevent commuters from the suburbs from driving in and parking in residential neighborhoods near metro stations?

        • Dunno for sure if this is what J.Con. meant, but I’d say that a current problem with the RPP system is that although it generally prevents _suburbanites_ from using neighborhoods near Metro as park-and-ride lots, it doesn’t account for people _within a given ward/parking zone_ using their RPPs in a similar manner, albeit on a smaller scale.
          Nor does it account for supply/demand differing across neighborhoods, increased density, etc., etc.

  • “Parking used to be about 165$ for the entire year to have zoned parking” — I don’t understand this. I thought an RPP (Residential Parking Permit) was a flat $35/year.

    • I’m guessing they are including registration which is renewed every year or can pay for up to two years.

      • Ahh, OK. If so, that’s not really an accurate stat on the OP’s part, though — you have to register your car whether you get RPP or not. (Unless you’re flouting the law by keeping your car registered elsewhere even though you live in D.C. and aren’t eligible for an exemption (student, Congressional staffer, etc.). But that’s another issue.)

  • Hey,

    I lived on a block that did not have RPP parking, even though my building was residential. It had just commercial parking, which was tough. I applied for reconsideration through the parking office that the area be re-zoned. I also talked to my commissioner about the topic.

    It worked. After a few months they came out and changed the signs, so now i have residential parking on one side of the street for my block.

    I didnt care as much about the parking itself- they had to change the zoning for me to be able to register my car for an RPP permit to park on ANY of the streets. I did the whole collect signatures and everything (there was just 2 buildings on my street).

    Hope this helps-


    • See, this is the type of broken promise I was talking about. Lessons?
      1. If a developer is making this promise in order to get your agreement with an exception to the zoning requirement, do not believe them – this is what happens every time.
      2. If you live in a building where a developer previously made this promise, then don’t worry – you just have to push this through.

      • You see thins as a bug. I see it as a feature. Trying to limit buildings from RPP is really just kicking the can of actually dealing with the RPP problem down the road. Raise RPP prices. Shrink the zones. And this all goes away. But try telling that to someone from Georgetown who parks in Logan Circle. Or Capitol Hill resident who drive and parks free by Nats Park. Or the upper NW commuter who goes parks near Woodley Park to take the metro in.

      • Tommy Wells introduced legislation to fix this in the last two councils. But because the Council functions like a middle school lunchroom, it never advanced anywhere because Wells is not popular with his colleagues.

  • If you’re in ANC 1A, 1B, or 1C you can get an RPP, period. Part of the terms of the ERPP program are that all residents in ERPP areas are eligible for RPP permits. You should contact your ANC commissioner if the DMV tells you you’re ineligible. They can apparently get your address added to the RPP-eligible database.

  • OP, care to chime in here on what your issues are (when you need a car and where you need to go and what neighborhood you’re in) so that we can be more helpful?

    • Making suggestions for how someone should change their lifestyle when they didn’t ask you is not helpful.

      • I don’t think that’s what Anonymous 2:42 pm meant — just that more information would enable PoPville people to provide better advice.
        For instance, someone was pointing out above, depending on the specific hours for the nearby zone parking, the lack of an RPP might not actually be an issue if the OP uses his/her car every weekday for work.

      • Telling someone to change their lifestyle does not answer his or her question.

  • I’m sure someone said it – But you can get a temporary mover pass from any police station. Once they were really nice and gave it to me for a month. (Instead of the traditional two weeks.)

    It’s just a temporary solution though.

  • To answer the questions.
    1) I work in Reston, VA and take a lot of stuff to and from work. I use my car daily and do not have the option to use public transportation (Sadly, I had hoped to become carl ess when I moved to DC 7 years ago. This is not even a possibility)
    2) I live in Progression Place in between S and T on 7th above the Shaw Metro. The block will never be a zoned block because of that.
    3) A lot of other cities that have ADU also seem to make it mandatory for the person renting out the ADU unit to provide parking.

    • What hours do you typically leave for work and come back? Do you have any flexibility in those hours?
      I’d scope out the nearby blocks and see what the specific hour restrictions are for zoned parking. Depending on when you leave/arrive and what the hour restrictions are, you might be able to park without violating the restrictions.
      It sounds like the building should have been more transparent about not being eligible for RPP. Given that it’s on top of a Metro, though, I imagine they probably assume that many prospective residents don’t have cars, and $200/month seems to be in line with market standards for garage parking in that area.

    • Isn’t that ANC 1B? If so, you qualify for an RPP because of the rules of the ERPP program that we have in ANC 1a, 1b, and 1c. Your ANC commissioner should be able to help you.

    • I live not far from OP near 8th and P. There are three full blocks without zone or time requirements within a few blocks of here. Not being eligible for an RPP sucks, but that’s life. I don’t think it’s the landlord/owner’s responsibility to put the info in the lease and no one is forcing monthly parking on you. As many others mentioned, just look around. There are options out there although they may not be right at your place. I used to park a few miles away to avoid issues with 2 hr or zoned restrictions. Did it suck? Of course. Was it anyone else’s problem to tell me about parking restrictions? No, because parking is a luxury. Hopefully you can work something out to suit your needs, but remember it might not be at your front door.

  • Please remember that once you park in a zone for more than 2 hours without an RPP. You must park in another zone, not another side of the street or in the same zone again. DDOT does have vehicles that can record you tag within the same zone. You are still subject to a ticket!! Pay the $200.00 and/or get apart time job!

  • I’m a teacher. so my hours vary. I tend to get home usually by 5:30 and leave around 7:30 am.

  • My husband works past the time metro closes and since we only have one car, we chose to live near where he works.

  • What could you pay a month to rent a space? Perhaps you can make a broader offer on these boards and see if someone in the community is able to help you out.

  • It pains me to say this, because I depend on street parking, but the government is under no obligation to provide you with cheap, subsidized storage for your car. You know why your building’s parking costs $200 a month? Because that’s the market. And if you want to own a car in this city and store it conveniently (read: have your cake and eat it too), you’ll have to put up with that. If not, you’ll have to make some lifestyle changes. Maybe find a cheap lot in the ‘burbs if you don’t need your car daily. Maybe see if someone in the neighborhood can rent their spot to you. Maybe re-think whether you need a car (I know you said you do, but you might not have other options).

  • I think it’s legitimate for developers/ANCs/the city to deny RPPs for certain buildings (especially those literally on top of metro stations!) but when this happens the onus is absolutely on the building manager/developer to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR to any prospective tenants that parking is not available. It seems like that’s the real issue here, that somebody signed a lease without being informed of the parking restriction they were agreeing to. In my view the building manager ought to pay for relocation to a residence without the restriction or find some means of accommodation. I would first pursue the complaint with the building to see if they’ll work something out with you. Seems like they mislead you in a serious way.

  • Another option that hasn’t been mentioned is posting on something like craiglist to see if anyone in the area is willing to rent out a space in their personal garage for your use. I know my house has an extra parking space in a garage a few blocks from there, so there are bound to be a few that might be willing to do it. Obviously not the best solution, but it could work.

  • Perhaps if people realized how expensive car ownership is — think $650/month, baseline — more would decide that doing without is really possible.

    Concerning the wretched RPP system, a Parking Task Force recommended changes way back in 2003 — and nothing happened. Council won’t touch parking, other than to try to “protect” residential parking (residents vote) from nonresidents. As for allowing new development only if the new residents are denied RPP permits, well, this example illustrates the downside of that approach.

    Re the use (abuse) of VPP permits — those are for visitors, period! — the abuse of these permits by residents, including renters, as substitutes for RPP, is a fine way to see the VPP system eliminated. The point is to allow your household help — child care, say — to park without getting tickets. A basement apartment renter is NOT a visitor!

  • My bottom line on this is… DCs RPP is completely unfair and needs to be scrapped to make way for some parking regulations that make sense for the realities of this city. I agree – this city isn’t obligated to provide me cheap and easy parking, but it also can’t unfairly provide that parking to others while preventing some of us from ever having legal parking. Without exaggerating, there are people living two blocks away that can park on my unzoned street without restriction, yet when it gets full I can’t park overnight on their street because I’m not allowed a RPP. My suggestion? Free unlimited parking within a mile of your home (unless metered, of course), and everywhere else you get two hours during the day. Why is that hard? A little enforcement near churches on Sundays would be nice too. You know…. to comply with that whole “establishment of religion” thing in the Constitution.

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