“The company and the garage have the worst service of any company I have ever experienced (maybe save for Comcast)”


“Dear PoPville,

My boyfriend and I live in Shaw, and because we live in a building that has a parking garage (at a price tag of over $200 a month) we are not eligible for a DC street parking permit. We pay DC taxes, we have DC plates on our car, but we cannot park on the streets of the city where we live.

Because we cannot park on the street, we have to deal with the parking companies. The company that runs the lot in our building is U Street Parking. They own a significant amount of the parking garages and lots in DC (between U Street Parking and Laz, they seem to own almost all the garages). In this particular garage, they seem to make most of their money off of valet parking and those who park in the garage for work.

The company and the garage have the worst service of any company I have ever experienced (maybe save for Comcast). The parking fob that we use to get in and out of the garage almost never works. We have frequently been stuck in the garage unable to get out or outside of the garage unable to get in because the fob does not work. This is especially infuriating on a weekend when there is no one in the office. They will assign us a new fob, and the new fob is also non functional. When we call, staff is unapologetic about the recurring issues. I have left endless unreturned voicemails with the “manager,” but I’m sure my calls are going to some unanswered line. I know this is a very first world problem, but because we cannot park on the street, we have no other choice in where to park our car (and U Street Parking knows this). They get away with poor service and I feel like we are flushing money down the drain every month. Our building accepts our complaints, but claims they cannot do anything because the parking lot is owned and managed by U Street Parking and is not within their domain.

I wish we could get rid of the car, but my boyfriend needed the car to get to work in a non-metro accessible area of Virginia. And with all the track work and general metro dysfunction, without the car, we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere outside of the District on the weekends. I know others in our building are frustrated too, but other than moving, we don’t seem to have any options. Have others had similar experiences and/or dealt more effectively with this company?”

86 Comment

  • Complaints about your parking operator are legitimate (and I’m afraid I don’t have any help to offer) but I don’t understand the complaints about “not being allowed to park on the streets where I live.” 1) not everything is legal and 2) didn’t you check that when you moved in?

    • Sounds like the “not being able to park on the street” part isnt really the issue. Sounds like its more a shot at not really having a choice on who to deal with. Kind of like you know, living in a comcast only area. Feel this man or woman’s pain, and he or she is probs my neighbor.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    That’s totally BS. I’ve lived in DC since 1985 and always had parking in my building, but I’ve always also paid for Resident Parking Permit. How does the city know if you pay for parking? Just pony up the fee when you register and you’ll get the RPP on your registration sticker.

    • Not all residential addresses in DC are eligible for RPP.

      • More and more apartment buildings are going this route. No RPP. It’s often a step to get approval to build high-density buildings. Definitely hit and miss on enforcement, but I know the DMV now has a database that can mark off addresses by block that are ineligible to get the RPP sticker.

        • There are a very few high profile new buildings that do this, and it’s not yet clear how it will be enforced. It’s possible but not likely that OP lives in one of those buildings.
          It’s much more likely OP lives at an address that simply does not qualify (any block that itself is not RPP). And the fact is many of those people get royally screwed. The way RPP is managed really needs to be overhauled.

          • It’s not just high profile buildings. Every single new building going up in SW is not eligible for a residential parking permit. They are also not building parking garages.

    • Odds are strong that the OP lives in one of the new luxury buildings in Shaw. Many were built with the caveat that the developer could skimp on the minimum amount of required parking, however the residents would not be eligible for the RPP. Additionally, the OP has plenty of parking in Shaw – especially on the weekends – that does not require residential permitting.
      It sounds like the OP’s fob is continually being de-magnetized. Any chance the OP/boyfriend are using bags or purses with magnets? Or are they going through a strong security clearance x-ray machine every day? Those things could potentially screw up your fob.

      • The fobs aren’t magnetized. They work on induction. There is a coil on an integrated circuit in the fob, which in the presence of a magnetic field (produced by the reader) powers the circuit so that it can transmit its information. The same principle as Smarttrip. It is impossible to demagnetize it.

      • I’m betting this is the CityMarket at O Street. I think U Street Parking handles that lot and I think that building is barred from getting RPP.

  • Does living in a building which offers parking for a price disqualify you from getting a residential parking permit? I’ve never heard of that. And I see no mention of that requirement on the DC DMV website.

    • Yes, it does. When you register for parking, the DMV tells you whether you are eligible for a street parking permit based upon your address.

      • Maybe in some new buildings. But it’s far from being the case with all pay parking buildings. I live in a new-ish building (built 2004 I believe) with a garage and have had RPP as an option for years.

  • Oh please. You’re not prohibited from parking on the street in DC. You’re prohibited from parking on RPP zoned blocks, a situation that many, many, many others in this city, including those who own homes on unzoned blocks, share.

    • I don’t know exactly where in Shaw this person is, but being prohibited from parking (more than 2 hours) in RPP zoned blocks can effectively be a prohibition against parking period. In some parts of the city there’s nearly nowhere you can reliably park without a sticker.

  • Yeah, just pay for street parking permit when you register your car in DC. Unless the car is not registered in DC…..?

    • Not all residential addresses in DC are eligible for RPP.

    • palisades

      when I got my parking pass for my apt, the lady couldn’t find my address in the list. So she just typed in a different address. *shrugs*

  • I hesitate to send this because you might add yourself to the pool of competitors that I face for a parking spot every night but there is absolutely no reason why you would not be able to obtain a residential parking permit and park on the street. It’s actually quite easy, just don’t bump into me.

  • Does OP mean they are not eligible for a residential parking permit for their particular zone? Isn’t that due to agreements entered between developers and the city?

  • This seems odd that you cannot obtain a parking permit. I think any DC resident with a registered DC vehicle should be able to obtain a parking permit for their ward regardless of what other parking options are available to them.

  • I’m pretty sure you can park on the street. I live in a building with a garage and we park on the street to avoid the $200/month cost. Did the building tell you that you couldn’t park on the street? Sounds like a potential scam.

    • Not all residential addresses in DC are eligible for RPP.

    • No. Many of the new buildings in Shaw and H Street were built with the understanding that the residents would not qualify for the RPP in exchange for construction variances. Essentially, the addresses are blackballed in the DMV system from obtaining the RPP.
      My guess is that the corporate landlords are not telling potential tenants about this issue.

      • its not the landlords job to tell them. they aren’t even the one’s who manage the parking. It should be common knowledge when you move somewhere in DC you better figure out the parking before you sign.

  • Contact DCRA http://dcra.dc.gov and your Councilmember. They should be able to assist with your complaints against the parking owners.

  • I live in Navy Yard and we don’t even have zoned street parking! (unless you live in the Capitol Quarter townhomes). So yeah, I feel for you OP. We pay $275 per month for 2 cars.

  • I assume you signed a contract for parking access in exchange for $200/mo.? Was the contract with U St Parking, or your landlord, or thru your lease? If it is thru your landlord, maybe letters via certified mail or Fed Ex describing your problems to the landlord and management company would get some results. If it is with U St Parking, find their main office and send letters via certified mail or Fed Ex to them. You may also get some traction if you find neighbors in your building with the same problems and send joint letters. If you know businesses are using the lot too, maybe you can join forces with them if they are also having problems. Keep being the squeaky wheel and working your way up the chain of command.

  • What block is this? This might be more an unzoned parking block issue than an RPP-prohibited issue. Last I heard there was no way for DDOT to enforce specific building address-based restrictions on RPPs.

  • To everyone saying of course this OP can get an RPP: Not true. As a condition of receiving a zoning variance for new-ish projects, many developers have consented to disallow their building’s tenants (or buyers, if condos) from obtaining an RPP, even if the area has zoned parking. Thus, you might live in a zoned area but not be eligible for RPP for your zone. Such arrangement is common in Shaw, Mt. Vernon, and Columbia Heights.

    • Wow that totally sucks. So when does the condo buyer or renter find out about this?

      I live in Petworth and have an RPP plus a visitor street parking pass. Sure, it’s a little far out but it sure is convenient.

      • I live in Petworth in a SF rowhouse and I cannot get a RPP. Our block is unzoned and everyone who lives on the block has a “NRP” sticker instead of a Ward sticker on their car.

        As many others have posted in this thread, many DC residents are not eligible for residential parking passes including people who live in your neighborhood.

        • You can get your block zoned. All you need to do is collect the signatures of 51% of residents on both sides of your block. DDOT has a whole process for doing it. It takes about 6 months of work and waiting but it’s definitely worth the effort. We did it to our block near U Street, which was unzoned and a favorite block for MD people who worked for the city government at the Reeves center to park everyday (along with all the drunks from MD and VA who came to the neighborhood every night to party). We got the blocked zoned for resident-only parking from 7am to 10pm Mon to Sat. It was awesome!

          • I know. Many of my neighbors do not want it zoned because it allows them to have overnight guests and contractors with no hassle. People will get ticket for ROSA violations on our block, but only after they’ve parked here for a LONG time.

            I’d prefer to have a W4 sticker, but since I basically never drive it doesn’t bother me enough to try to talk all of my neighbors into it.

    • +1000000000000000000 I live in a new apartment building and even tried to start the petition to receive RPP for our building. You have to get 51% of the residents in your building/block sign in order for DDOT to even consider it. When I first moved I tried everything I could. My apartment building shares parking spaces with an office building so by the time I moved in, all the spaces reserved for residents were gone. DDOT didn’t care. It sucks but I do understand how allowing everyone to park on the street could cause issues. I chalk it up to living in the city :-/

      • I call it corruption. There’s no logical reason why the developers and the city should be able to get together to bar some people from parking on the street. I doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I

        • Let me layout the logical reason for you, its really simple:

          Your new Apt location: 600 residences within area you can park for a 5 minute walk home
          Open Parking spaces within 5 minutes of your home: 500 parking spaces

          Its logical that not all people will get parking.

          Its logical that they restrict buildings that are providing the most residences per block.

          • “Its logical that they restrict buildings that are providing the most residences per block.”
            Not clear to me why low density row houses should get preferred parking subsidies (RPP) that are denied to dense housing. If anything dense housing should get the subsidy since low density housing is bad for the environment and produces less taxes per sq ft of land. If they can’t give RPP to everyone just meter everything.

          • you would be correct if street parking was market price or at least break even. However, street parking is subsidized by the general fund. In theory, these apartments should be appraised at a lower value and therefor pay less tax, but who knows if that actually happens. I’ve never seen anything on an appraisal form about RPP eligibility.

          • “If they can’t give RPP to everyone just meter everything.”
            This would be great policy, both in terms of revenue and in forcing people to be more judicious about whether to own a car and explore alternatives if possible (thus probably reducing consumption of other municipal resources). BUT trying to take away something people already have causes straight-up revolt. Having some buildings opt-out of RPP as part of the approval process is sensible; future residents aren’t getting anything taken away that they already had.
            The fact that people are signing leases without knowing about it is pretty messed up, though. Blame for that goes on the leasing office, mostly. Maybe this post will raise awareness for apartment hunters that this is A Thing.

        • You guys are both missing the point. The building based parking restrictions are something new. This is based on the developer arguing that their building is targeted at car-less residents and they should not have to comply with building parking minimums. They get a zoning variance to construct a building with less parking than they otherwise would be required by law to build. In exchange they (among other things) give up the parking rights of their residents. This makes perfect sense until idiots move into the building without reading the fine print.
          There are also non-RPP blocks. Many times these are commercial blocks or on busy streets with rush hour parking. This is not to intentionally limit the ability of apartment dwellers to park, but rather because these blocks do not have all day parking in any case. Blocks may be converted with 51% of the residents signatures, but this is hard on blocks with lots of density for obvious reasons.

          • I actually live in one of these buildings- had to have the car for commute’s sake and unfortunately have to deal with U St. Parking- its not in the lease.

      • Lots of confusion above. There are a very small number of buildings who agreed to never have RPP in exchange for zoning variances. In theory this can never change.
        This is different from buildings on non-RPP blocks which are not currently eligible can be converted to RPP.

  • 1. Figure out if something you are exposing you fob to is messing with the magnetism. (Not saying it is, but worth troubleshooting.)
    2. Try renting in a different garage nearby. Not all garages, even those owned by the same company, are likely to have the same problems.
    3. Register your car at a friend’s address in the zone and park on the street. Caveat – I have no idea how far you would have to take this address change – obviously on your driver’s license, and this messes up other things like voting districts (you usually register with your driver’s license). I have no idea if there’d be a need to use that address on your tax filings, etc. Clearly not legal, but a possible fix to your problem. Maybe see if others have done this for advice from them.
    4. Or try to get the problems with the garage fixed, as suggested. I tend to never believe that’s possible, but you never know. You can’t be the only person in the building facing these problems.

    • emvee

      As someone who has yet to change their driver’s license but voted last November, you can register to vote with a copy of your lease.

  • LOLing at the multitude of posters rightly pointing out that some addresses are not eligible for a parking permit and other posters still not getting it.

    • some people never listen to facts. if they haven’t heard it before, then it just ain’t true.

    • Also LOLing at the people who are like “If your building has pay parking YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT ELIGIBLE FOR RPP.” It’s a case by case basis, and residents of most buildings can still get it.

  • Has anyone had any luck dealing with U Street Parking?

    • They’re awful. I park at one of their locations, and it’s amazing how incredibly incompetent they are. Building parking managers refer questions to the central office, and vice versa. Funny enough, I never had a problem with Central Parking. Truly terrible.

    • I hated them. I parked with them for all of 4 months at the DC USA garage. Decided I could have a lot more fun with an additional $145 in my pocket (low for DC, I know, but still) and street park. I fortunately have the option to street park since I live in an old building that isn’t a ‘prohibited’ address.

  • Not worth the hassle, I would probably just move. You can get a much cheaper place in the neighborhood with off-street parking than what these cheapskate “luxury” apartment buildings are charging. Between the exorbitant rent (easily $2400 for a 1BR) and $200 parking, I’d be livid.
    When you live in these large corporate owned buildings, you’re just another variable in a cash flow projection. You can also expect a 10% increase in rent next year. This is how they all operate.

  • Not being able to exit or enter the garage as one pleases is simply NOT acceptable. All the more so since you’re paying $200 a month.

    Start documenting the incidents, time/date, etc., and then vociferously complain, repeatedly. Demand refunds. Examine your parking contract carefully to find out exactly what the company’s duties and responsibilities are. The company may not be in compliance. I so, consider breaking the garage contract if the incidents continue, and shifting to another garage. If they threaten to ding your credit man up with a lawyer to push back.

    If you’re leasing, inform the landlord and tell them you may leave if the situation cannot be rectified in timely fashion. If you own, inform and complain to the condo board. In short, complain and complain. If parking continues to be a nuisance, move.

  • Shaw also has quite a few blocks or parts of blocks that are not zoned for RPP. OP, check out areas in front of churches, schools, small businesses, and fire stations. You should be able to park there (mind the street cleaning restrictions and an other signs). Also, pay attention to the hours of RPP – in some parts of Shaw, they are only Monday through Friday 6 am – 8 pm two-hour restrictions. If your car is really in Virginia during most/all of those hours, you can street park legally overnight on some blocks.

  • I just moved to a new apartment which does not qualify for the RPP. My car registration is still registered to my old address a couple blocks down which does qualify for the RPP. Is it possible to simply renew my registration when it expires without changing to my new address? My roommate still lives in the row house and he can hold my mail. Or is this slightly illegal?

    • lol. That is obviously illegal. Obviously if your friend will hold your mail you can probably do it, but you seem to know it’s clearly illegal.

    • So I just did this very same thing, though accidentally. Renewed for Zone 1, then had to move suddenly and am now in Zone 4 (though on the border, so I can park a couple blocks away from the actual house). I assume this is at least slightly illegal when done purposefully, but I’m not really sure how they would go about enforcing it. Especially since, for me, I don’t plan on updating my DL (bc the DMV is not worth the hassle!)

      • Just change it using one of their on line tools?

      • Your car registration address automatically changes with your license address. If you’ve moved, obviously you legally should change your license. But in practice, there’s little chance of anything happening to you if you don’t.
        Just be sure to maintain the fraudulent address on everything, including your taxes, employment records, and SF85P/SF86 paperwork if you work for/with the government. For me, keeping up that kind of fraud just wouldn’t be worth it. But it’s clearly a judgement call.

  • PSA for non-RPP parkers. Here is a map of all the RPP blocks in the district. You can use this to find un-zoned blocks:

  • Can boyfriend sell his car, use that money and the $200 per month now paid for parking garage to Uber to Virginia in the morning and maybe take transit on the way home?

  • This is why job sprawl is a huge problem. Living car-free is great in theory, but if you work in D.C. and your spouse/partner works almost anywhere in the ‘burbs aside from Arlington or Bethesda, at best one of you is going to spend a LOT of time commuting if you want to use transit.

    • They can get a bike!

    • SouthwestDC

      Yep. My partner and I work in IT/engineering and it’s incredibly difficult to find jobs that are not in the suburbs. At any given time at least one of us is bound to a driving commute.

      • Those jobs moved to the suburbs because office space was cheap and that’s where people want to live. I think (hope) that as more people move to the city and employees are wary of commuting out to the burbs, many of those companies will be incentivized to move back to the city.

      • This is such a shameful truth. IT/ENgineering you work in Rockville or Dulles. Legal jobs and you are in the District. God forbid you are in a law/IT mixed marriage.

  • These no RPP buildings are in theory admirable, but in reality a complete and utter failure that was as predictable as the day is humid.

    It is a complete freebie to a developer. They get out of building sufficient parking to accommodate all the new cars from their buyers/tenants by promising to be part of a no RPP address. It saves them millions on the front end of the construction of the building and parking (which they of course don’t bother passing back to the buyer / tenant), and then its no skin off their back when their tenants aren’t able to get RPP’s to park on the street, a fact that is well hidden on page 318 of the fine print of the lease / buyers contract you sign.

    Big proponents like to claim that it reduces the number of cars on DC city streets but in reality the well to do demographic that is the standard customer for a $2,000 1br in a shady neighborhood, also has a car.

    Despite the specific age range of the new DC arrivals the past 8 years slanting younger, and more urban (i.e. more likely to be without a car), the per capita car registrations in DC have stayed exactly the same, so millennials not owning cars is an urban myth, especially in DC where they can afford to live in spendy places.

    • In one sense you are right. Prospective tenants pay little attention to the fine print and only later realize how important parking permits can be.
      On the other hand, parking requirements are insane. DC needs more density and while this is not a particularly equitable solution, it’s a way to get apartment buildings buy the obstructionist ANCs and BZA. There are many cities around the world that are far more dense than DC. People will figure it out.

  • If you are frustrated with the service in that garage, take your business elsewhere. Another garage will gladly take your $200/month. Although its nice that its in your building, it would probably be better to go somewhere where you are getting value for your money — such as being able to go in and out!

  • The developers told the neighborhood you wouldn’t own a car. But you do anyway. That is the consequence.

  • Yeah, I used this company for a while for parking until i got fed up with the problems you are experiencing. I found secret parking spots in my hood and ditched the garage altogether eventually. Unfortunately, U Street Parking is a craptastic disorganized mess, the garage was convenient if it worked as advertised. Sorry about your building’s choice of lot managers.

  • We lived in the same building and had the same problem!!! In our case, we moved in right after it opened and the buildings after told us we could get residential parking before we signed our lease. When we couldn’t because the block wasn’t zoned for it, we flipped out and eventually threw such a fit that the VP of the company gave us free parking in the garage for the rest of our 1 year lease. We thought that was the end of it, but as OP said, the parking company was horrible! I can’t tell you how many times we tried to get out of the garage on a weekend and couldn’t get out (the gate wouldn’t open and the call button never reached a human). Honestly, it was one of the big reasons we decided to move.

  • Seriously, you need to sue the city to get permission to park on the street. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to sue and make the city answer why 100% of residents of older buildings get residential parking and most of those in new buildings do not. The taxes paid by the residents is the same, and yet the distribution of a civic resource is unequal.

    DC, of all cities, has created a second class status for certain citizens. Litigate litigate litigate litigate litigate. Most courts would be eager to overturn this. The city cannot show any compelling governmental interest to restrict access to a civic resource other than “parking is scarce in this area”, which is not a legitimate interest if the city is not requiring additional parking to be built. Sue the city and get results!

    • I think you might be right, but for the wrong reason. You don’t need a “compelling” reason to discriminate between citizens based on characteristics that aren’t suspect or quasi-suspect classes. Unfortunately, age of your building isn’t one of them, so all you need is some type of rational basis. However, I heard somewhere that someone (how’s that for hard, concrete information? 😉 ) is suing the city on the grounds that the statute authorizing the RPP program doesn’t provide for this type of exception. In other words, if you live on a block that’s zoned for residential parking, you’re entitled to a permit and the city isn’t authorized to make deals with private parties that affect citizens’ rights otherwise.

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