Confusing/Contradictory Parking Signage Vol. 17


“Dear PoPville,

Have you seen parking ticket traps like this where paint says its parking zone but sign says no parking? There is one in front of target Columbia heights too.”

56 Comment

  • They are ticket traps (intentional or not), but they’re not legal parking tickets; the signs trump IMO (streets are marked like all this time in front of fire hydrants, just because the paint is marked that way doesn’t mean you can park there).

  • To me it clearly states that you can’t park there. Why would someone just assume that because there are lines, that would negate the marked sign?

    • Because there is no obvious (or even logical) reason for the no parking sign. Its about 1/4 down the block, not near the intersection, hydrant, or any other reason for it. The sign is also now – this was legal parking for years.

      • Even if there’s no good reason for the sign… the sign is still there. “There’s no good reason for the sign” is not likely to succeed when you’re contesting your ticket.
        If you don’t think there should be a no-parking sign there, make your case with DDOT and ask them to remove it.
        If you’ve been ticketed and want to get your ticket dismissed, write in your appeal that the sign was new and you didn’t see it. (This might not work, but it’s worth a try.)

      • ah

        Looks like a building entrance no parking zone.

        It should have a No Parking-Entrance sign or something.

    • But why are the lines there at all?

  • A bit more about this photo (I’m the one who submitted it). This is the 1300 block of W Street NW and until recently, there wasn’t a “No Parking” sign on that pole. I still do not understand why there is one there now. This pole is at least 100 feet from the intersection and there are other poles closer to the intersection.

    It looks to be a pure parking police honey pot for easy ticket writing.

    • Lots of developments get no parking in front the entrance. I assume it’s so people can see it easier from the street.

      • There isn’t an entrance to the building between this sign and the intersection. The entrance is farther down and parking is allowed in front of the door.

        • Valet parking zone?

          • probably.

          • This is probably the right answer. That block of W Street is a mess Thurs through Saturday in the evenings due to the Kapnos valet. Cars will queue up and block traffic flow to wait for the valet attendant to take their car. This new spot gives the cars a place to wait so the rest of traffic can pass. They probably should have just made it “No Parking” only after 5pm, but c’est la vie.

          • The valet signs I’m familiar with only prohibit parking while the valet is available, usually in the evening (obvs).

    • Might be to give large trucks enough space to turn onto W from 14th. If cars were parked there, it might be too narrow to make the turn. I often see no parking signs in areas that don’t seem to make sense, until you realize parked cars might impede some traffic (e.g. where trucks might need to back into a loading area, there are sometimes no parking areas across the street from the building with the loading area to allow enough room to back the truck in).

      • or more importantly, could a fire engine make the turn onto W Street if cars were parked in the no parking area?

      • Actually large trucks are prohibited on W Street. There’s a camera down the block that tickets them.

  • There’s one at the bottom of Meridian Hill on 15th. Drove by one day as a parking enforcement officer was ticketing cars parked within the white parking boxes but beyond the no-parking signage. She took cellphone pictures of the car’s relationship to the sign presumably as back up.

    • Yep. They took out one spot on each side a few years back by putting the signs a little further up the hill. It was necessary once bikes started zipping down the hill the wrong way to join the contra-flow lane at V. When cars were able to park all the way down there was a real blind spot and stepping into that intersection was a crapshoot. Still is, actually. Pedestrians should always look both ways, but it takes breaking a habit when crossing what you think is a one-way. Maybe the new revamp of this intersection with the extension of the contraflow lane will help.

      • Interesting…I’m new to the neighborhood and didn’t know the background. That’s definitely a hairy intersection down there and could probably stand some re-imagining. BTW, have you noticed the new graffiti right before Belmont and then across from there on one of the walls in the park? I feel like there’s been an uptick in that type of vandalism over the past couple of months.

  • The white line is less about establishing a parking zone and more about establishing the boundary of the roadway.

    • Not when the white line blocks out the start and end of parking at each end of the block and even blocks out the two parking spaces on the north side of W on the other side of W. Then it is very much to designate where to park. Yes, the sign trumps the lines, but the lines are very, very deceiving.

  • I got a parking ticket right there a couple of weeks ago. It was my fault for not noticing the sign, but I had parked there several times before, and parking was allowed. There was nothing to make me think that it wouldn’t be allowed all of a sudden.

    • Exactly! They just added the sign with no rhyme or reason. To me, its a prime example of confusing signage expressly to issue tickets.

      • Hang on, why do you keep insisting there’s no rhyme or reason? Because the city didn’t send you a personal email explaining why the signage changed? Come on. And seriously, please explain what’s confusing about the signage. The sign says no parking, how much more straightforward can it be?

        • There isn’t a reason for it. No Parking is usual done within 20ft of an intersection, 5 ft of an alley, 20ft on either side of a hydrant, etc. Here, there isn’t any of that. DDOT is not supposed to randomly put up No Parking signs

          • I know how they *usually* do it, thanks. But unless you’ve been in contact with DDOT about this matter, you don’t know that there’s no reason for it. You just know that there isn’t one that you know of.
            And finally let me put forth an alternative to your ‘honeypot’ theory: it’s possible DDOT (or more specifically, some idiot contractor) put the signs in the wrong place. Why be all paranoid and go straight for the most sinister explanation?

      • There is nothing at all confusing about the sign – it says no parking.
        You seem very invested in people agreeing with you, when the majority of the commenters so far do not.

  • I work at Kapnos and yes, the no parking sign is a new development, before that, there was no sign at all. Parking enforcement loves this block and swings by nearly every hour. It’s not like the restaurant is using the space — we’ve been trying to get the city’s approval for valet for a very long time and still no luck.

    • Do you think its a precursor to this being marked valet? A sensitization for the neighbourhood?

      • Possible. I don’t know where exactly the restaurant is in the application process, only that it’s been a long haul.

      • The neighbors are already “sensitized” to possible valet parking — it has led to ANC protesting the request for valet parking (due to expected traffic jams on narrow street, plentiful public transport options, and Kapnos doing valet parking without a permit when they first opened).

        • In defense of Kapnos, the valet company they hired (used by other businesses also), didn’t have the right permits, not Kapnos itself.

          • justinbc

            That’s not the kind of thing you would check when running a restaurant and hiring someone to perform a service for you? Do they also purchase fish and meat from people without the proper licenses?

  • It’s actually a pretty simple rule: the most restrictive sign or marking always wins.

    • Agreed!
      I don’t see the confusion or deceit here at all. The OP cannot get over the fact that there was no sign there before and is trying to find a “reason” for it, but if I parked there, I would look at the sign, drive away, and not think twice about it.

    • This is not actually the case. There are a number of factors which play in these things like the other signs on the street. In this case though road markings really don’t mean anything, the sign clearly states that it’s “No Parking” but if a another sign on the next light-pole down read “2-Hr Parking 10a – 5p in Zone X” with an arrow pointed toward the “No Parking Sign” then a person receiving a ticket would not be liable for said ticket. Always contest a ticket if the signs don’t match!!!

  • A couple of observations: It looks like an entrance to a building. Occasionally, DDOT places parking restrictions in front of certain office buildings for a variety of reasons. Also, the parking is in front of a rain garden / tree box, they don’t want you to trample on this area, which would reduce its effectiveness for rain runoff mitigation.

    This is my guess.

    • 1. Not an entrance to the building, just a restaurant.
      2. No parking in front of a tree box? You are kidding, right? By the way, these planters are all along that street.

  • lindz0722

    Hey Wayan, you sent the picture to PoP because you wanted to see what others had to say (I’m assuming, I may be wrong). No need to argue with every person who disagrees.

    I agree that it is a confusing and contradictory parking area. But your statement “DDOT is not supposed to randomly put up No Parking signs” is not true. DDOT can do whatever it wants, and it might suck, and you can certainly complain about it (and I don’t blame you, because it’s silly to have no parking for no reason). But they have authority over parking so they make the rules, whether random or justified.

    • I get the impression that Wayan was seeking validation more than actually wanting to survey PoPville readers about what they thought.

    • DDOT is absolutely not supposed to randomly put up No Parking signs! DDOT can absolutely NOT do whatever it wants. Who are you – Vladamir Putin?

      You’re advocating that we grant our public employees the right to make up whatever rules they want to regardless of established written regulations?

      • Exactly. DDOT cannot just put up signs for no reason. They have to follow written regs and polices. My point in this post was to argue that this sign isn’t logical and see if anyone had a reason why it might be there.

        The valet idea was the most logical till someone chimed in that the restaurant already got in trouble for trying to run a valet service there w/o permit and the ANC isn’t excited about letting one be there legally.

        So we’re still back at no logical reason any of us can see and I’ve taken Gary’s advice below and asked DDOT what’s up with the sign.

  • Here’s a simple suggestion: ask DDOT or DPW what the rhyme or reason is. If there isn’t one, they’ll correct it. Best way to reach them is actually on twitter. Copy Jim Graham. One way to not get any resolution is to go around and around on a blog about it.

    And incidentally, I’m as jaded as the next guy, but just drop the “intentionally confusing ticket honeypot” BS.

  • I learned very quickly not to pay attention to lines in DC. This intersection right here … https:[email protected],-77.025206,3a,75y,118.71h,74.9t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sm8C7iHo2Nkhddim94qAxzw!2e0 is a prime example. The ‘No Stopping or Standing Anytime’ sign (which is apparently missing its forward arrow, so I guess that will be argued by someone as well) was not always there. If you parked all the way up to where the white lines end, you’d get a ticket for parking too close to a stop sign. Got one. In less than 15 minutes. When I went out to move my car after noticing the ticket on it, a parking enforcement officer was in the process of writing another. As I held up the ticket and said “Thanks!” she said “Oh, I was gonna write one too. That one ain’t even mine! Hahahahaha!” As you can see from the oil slicks, they probably write many, many tickets here. I don’t understand why they can’t just paint some diagonal lines or paint the curb yellow in these instances. Yes, we should all know the parking rules. Blah blah blah. But a little extra help deciphering signs, lines, etc. would be very nice.

  • I don’t really see what the issue is here. As someone up chain said, if the sign says no parking, then there’s no parking, regardless of the lines.

  • If the sign is relatively new, is it possible that they just didn’t remove the lines (yet) to catch up with the new sign? Perhaps the sign installers and the line removers are two different crews and removing the lines just isn’t a priority.

    • Now here you go, letting logic get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. OBVIOUSLY this is a ticket trap. It couldn’t POSSIBLY be something as mundane you suggest. I fully expect that the sing-posting crew is exactly the same as the line-removing crew. Don’t be silly.

  • Fortunately you only have to go a block to catch the bus and a few blocks to grab a Bikeshare, catch the Circulator, or hop on the Metro. If you are dead set on driving in one of the most-densely populated and frequented parts of the city, there is a garage at the Reeves Center. Or there are almost always Car2Go vehicles always nearby in which case you have a better chance of fitting in those on-street spots available.

  • Not as bad as this: ( I got a ticket at 9:59pm, and DC upheld it when I contested. Technically illegal according to the second time, but DC never explained to me how I was supposed to know the second posted time was the correct one.

  • What’s directly across the street on the south side of W Street? Isn’t this right across/in line where the alley from V to W comes out onto W Street? The alley used by all the delivery trucks delivering to Union Row building?

    If so, DDOT very smartly then made this area no parking on the north curb lane so trucks can make the right turn coming out of the alley. I’ve been trapped a number of times as trucks can’t make the tight right turn without the extra space – and W Street is pretty narrow – and traffic quickly backs up on W as there’s no way out for anyone.

    Not a ticket trap, not a money maker – just trying to accommodate traffic coming out of the alley.

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