Do I correctly understand the parking rules? I must be missing something.

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Topic: Do I correctly understand the parking rules? I must be missing something.

Travel and Transportation March 30, 2012 at 12:04 am

Do I correctly understand the parking rules? I must be missing something.

I tried getting a residential parking permit when I went to register my car today and was told “your address doesn’t require it.”  Which is a strange way to say “you can’t park your car anywhere in the city unless it’s at a meter.”
Am I missing something? I sent this email to the DDOT today:

Can you help me make sure I understand this correctly?  I went to the DMV today to get my license converted to a DC license and was really confused by what I was told.

My address is in Zone 6, a large area that encompasses Navy Yard, Capitol Hill, Eastern Market, etc.  Residents of Zone 6 may request a residential parking permit that enables them to park their vehicles on streets displaying placards such as “TWO HOUR PARKING ONLY, ZONE 6 RESIDENTS EXCEPTED.”  Typically spots on these streets are not metered, but parking enforcement will nonetheless come around to ensure that the two hour time limit is being respected for vehicles not displaying a Zone 6 parking sticker.  Metered spots, as far as I can tell, rarely allow for residential free parking, as that would sort of defeat the purpose of the meter.  So if you live in a given zone, you get a permit for that zone, and you may park in the spaces not explicitly allocated for revenue generation with a meter. 

Good so far?


If you happen to live on certain blocks which appear to be chosen at random, you are effectively barred from leaving your car on any street in this city in which we live if said street is not metered.  Mine, for example — which is surrounded by streets that have nothing but meters.  Which makes a whole lot of sense — I live at [address] in a large apartment building and am a block away from the baseball stadium.  The city is going to want to gather revenue from people parking for baseball games.  Sure, this is entirely logical and sensible.  So instead of parking right on my block, I should park, say, a few blocks away, or even out beyond Eastern Market around the Potomac Ave Metro station.  I’m okay with this.  It’s a consequence of living in a large city with a lot of people and a lot of cars.

Except I can’t.  Ever.  No matter where I put my car, I will be ticketed for leaving it beyond the time limit SOMEWHERE, because it exists in a parking no-man’s-land.  Because of the vagaries of the RPP system, it is ineligible for a zone sticker ANYWHERE, and since there exist no streets anywhere in the city that are neither explicitly metered nor marked with a zone sign, I can’t put my car in my neighborhood, or even outside my neighborhood, or even on the opposite side of town.

There is no functional reason for this that I can discern.  It’s not like I live in the middle of the very busy northwest, where cars have to be strictly corralled and controlled.  I’m in a neighborhood that actually has a fair amount of available space all around, with a lot of quiet streets with very little activity and often quite a few open parking spaces at night.  Sure, baseball games change this — but only at select times, and certainly not in locations as far away from the stadium as Potomac Ave.

What I am trying to understand is this: Who made the decision that people who live in a building two blocks away from me can park their vehicle anywhere in Zone 6 — north, south, east, west of their houses by a mile or more — and yet people who live on certain blocks cannot safely put their cars anywhere in the city?

Moreover, why is the city leaving such a massive sum of cash on the table?  The cheapest private lots I can find are in the neighborhood of $120/mo.  The city charges $35/year(!!!!) for a residential parking pass.  Do you understand that I would be willing to drop $500 or more a year on the DC government to have the peace of mind to know that I can safely park my car SOMEWHERE accessible to my apartment building without worrying about Enforcement ticketing me?

This seems utterly nonsensical to me, which makes me think that I HAVE to have understood what the DMV agent told me incorrectly.  Could someone please write back and explain this to me so that it makes some kind of sense?

Thanks in advance.

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There actually ARE streets that are neither metered nor zoned. My block is like this, and since it isn’t zoned, we can’t get a RPP either. And have to fight for parking with lots of out of state cars that get parked on our block, sometimes for days. we are going to try and get it zoned. Good luck with your situation.

I live in Petworth. There are a couple of blocks along 5th St NW that are unzoned. There is a block around Spring and New Hampshire that I believe is unzoned. They are very hard to find, that’s for sure. I used to live in Capitol Hill, and I don’t remember coming across an unzoned block there.

I just found this helpful DDOT page. You plug in the block and it tells you what the zoning is.

To summarize, many, but not all, blocks in the city are zoned for RPP. Of those that are not RPP, some are metered and some are “unzoned”.
If your block is not zoned for RPP (use the link provided by anongardener to find out if it is) then your options for parking are a) park in an unzoned block or b) rent or borrow an off-street parking spot.
If your block is not zoned for RPP and you think it should be, there is a process to petition the city for RPP. Check the dc gov website for info about that.

See this closely related forum thread from the other day:
The sentence that jumped out at in your post was: “I live at [address] in a large apartment building and am a block away from the baseball stadium.”  Perhaps this building is a newer one where, at the time developers were applying for permits, they made a concession to the city by making it so that the residents would not be eligible for RPP? (Developers sometimes do this to allay the concerns of existing residents that a new building is going to mean too much competition for the existing zoned parking spaces.)


Do you live in the Onyx or one of those other buildings?  When they were built they agreed to a stipulation that their residents would be ineligble for RPP. I’m sure jdland has the details somewhere, but the short version is that DMV/DDOT are not mistaken.

My friend who lives in this area had the exact same problem. Last I heard she was going to have petition to have her building eligible for zoned parking. I think she just gave up and rented a spot somewhere.

There are un zoned spots on Cap Hill – near H St NE.
Does your building not provide parking? 

12/F/MD Aves NE.  It sounds like you (and your neighbors) will have to petition the city to allow RPP on your block.  But like the other posts stated, a lot of these new buildings struck deals that did not allow residents to park on the streets. 

I actually authored the similar post on this issue on this forum last week. I am in the same situation as you in in the Columbia Heights/Petworth area. The best answer I’ve found after speaking to many people and several government agencies is to file a petition to get your block zoned for parking and, in the meantime, park your car in an unzoned parking block.
The petitions asks for signatures from a “majority” of people that live on your block, which has proven difficult for me to achieve thus far. Also, I have no idea how long the process will take once I submit my petition or if the petition will result in getting my block successfully zoned.
Some concerns about leaving your car in an unzoned block are the following: 1) they’ve proven hard to find in my case. 2) many people in the same situation as us will also be parking in the unzoned spots so they are oftentimes at capacity 3) I have heard that there are more cases of break-ins in unzoned blocks due to the fact that people know that these cars are oftentimes not moved/not monitored for days on end (I haven’t come across actual data to support this, however)
Needless to say, this is a headache and seems unfair since we are tax-paying residents. On the other hand, I guess it was our responsibility to confirm our block’s RPP status before moving into our apartments. I have found that I now barely use my car for fear of moving it from the unzoned block and returning to find no parking…
If you would like me to email you an updated petition that a representative from the DC DDOT sent me, leave me your email address and I’d be happy to forward it.

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