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“anybody know the DC law governing signage for parking restrictions?” Also Friday’s Citations to be Voided!

by Prince Of Petworth January 28, 2016 at 1:50 pm 33 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Paul Sirajuddin

“Dear PoPville,

I’m wondering if anybody knows the DC law governing signage for parking restrictions, particularity for identifying snow emergency routes? I just got a ($250) ticket for parking along a snow emergency route (400 block of 6th St NW, between D and E). I try to be vigilant about this sort of thing, and I had checked the 2 or 3 parking signs in both directions of my car (about 30 yards in either direction), but it turns out there was one “snow emergency route” sign on the northern end of this very long block. There were at least 10 other cars who had likewise parked and been ticketed, and even more cars continued to park as people vacated their spots (though I warned as many as I could). Perhaps I just need to be more vigilant, but it seems reasonable to survey 6 parking signs spanning 60 or 70 yards before concluding that a block is okay to park, and clearly many others agreed (to the tune of $2500/3000 in tickets within a few minutes). Does anyone know the law on this? I searched the DC parking code for signage requirements and turned up nothing.”


Also this just in from the Mayor’s Office:

“Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today that citations issued for parking on snow emergency routes on Friday, January 22nd will be voided.

“The Blizzard of 2016 was one of the largest snow events in recent history and we are all working together to dig the District out from this storm,” said Mayor Bowser. “Despite that drivers were advised last Thursday to remove their vehicles from snow routes, I understand that some who received citations that Friday may not have known about the parking restriction, or may have been running errands in preparation for the storm. This ticket dismissal is one small way that we can continue to help each other recover from the storm.”

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, January 22nd, a snow emergency declaration went into effect requiring residents to remove their vehicles from snow emergency routes and prohibiting them from parking along these routes until the declaration expired. 2800 citations were issued Friday, each of which carried with it a fine of $250 fine and fees for towing and vehicle storage.

Unpaid citations issued for violating the January 22nd snow emergency will be voided administratively. Residents who have already paid their citations for violations that occurred on Friday, January 22nd will receive a refund. In either case, all applicable towing and storage fees still apply. Residents with questions about the citation void are asked to call 311.”

  • elly2

    I contested (and won!) a street cleaning ticket where the signed immediately at the ends of my parking section did not have street cleaning signs on them. Turns out another sign further down the block did, but I walked and checked the closest signs on either side of me. Everyone on the block got a $45 ticket. I sent in pictures of the signposts near my car, which very clearly had no street cleaning signs and marked the end of the parking zone.

    They have no incentive to fix the signs of course. I am sure most of the others did not bother contesting. Pissed me off too much not to try.

    • Anon

      Ditto. I’ve contested a few signage tickets , all were awarded in my favor. It’s a pain and very time consuming, but if the goal is to get people to NOT park there (and not just collect revenue) they need to do a better job conveying that message

    • textdoc

      I had a similar situation (parked next to a signpost that had two other signs, but no sign regarding street cleaning).
      My appeal was rejected despite my providing photo evidence, with the (ludicrous) suggestion that I should have driven around the block to look for more signs.
      Still worth appealing, but unfortunately reason doesn’t always prevail.

    • Me

      Huh?? I’ve lived in DC for almost 8 years. I’ve knows that certain streets are snow emergency routes where one should not park. It would have never occurred to me that a street would be an emergency route but not be marked so. That’s completely ridiculous. Yes this snow sucks but it is completely proper for DC to void the tickets in these cases.

  • nevermindtheend

    It is extremely annoying that Bowser is voiding Friday’s citations. Is she just trying to get people to ignore snow emergencies in the future? Everyone had ample time to move their vehicles.

    • Cassie

      Exactly. People on the neighborhood listserv complained about not knowing that enforcement started at 9:30am, because they hadn’t seen any news or notices about it. However, there had been several posts about it on that very listserv!

      • guest1

        Excatly. And seriously, people, take responsibility for your car. The “Nobody told me” excuse shouldn’t work after your turn 5.

        And 90% of the people complaining probably have a smart phone that they could have looked up the emergency routes on.

  • As I said just the other, many snow emergency routes are barely marked with signage. Some streets go multiple blocks without any signs whatsoever. This was likely done in an effort to save the time it would take to go through hundreds of appeals tickets and court hearings. They seriously need to do a better job putting up signs, Capitol Hill I know is really lacking.

    • anon

      There was ample notice of the Blizzard, you couldn’t be also bothered to confirm the snow emergency routes online? The emergency routes are there for a reason.

      • Entling

        So the DC govt. should do a better job to make sure the signage accurately conveys that. All signage should be up-to-date, accurate, and prevalent, but this is especially true when communicating information about an emergency situation. The emergency signage problem exists in my neighborhood as well (Logan Circle) so I wonder if they received a large number of complaints leading them to believe they would be better off dismissing the tickets.

        • Anon

          I don’t own a car and I know exactly where all the emergency routes are in my neighborhood because there are very clearly marked signs (they are also very easy to find online). Additionally, the city gave residents ample warning before the blizzard, parking garages in the area were either free or severely discounted, and it was very, very widely publicized that anyone parked on the routes would be ticketed or towed beginning at 9:30 am on Friday. They couldn’t possibly have done more to inform and help residents with parking. I bet many of these drivers also complained that the streets didn’t get plowed quickly enough even though their cars were impeding the plows. Zero sympathy. This was a terrible move by the city.

          • guest1

            +1 million
            or you know, big road or road with lots of buses = emergency route.

          • DC has a constant influx of citizens from areas of the country where the concept of “snow emergency” would never be a thing. There are also people who may have looked to be sure where they normally park is not an emergency route, but didn’t look at the map for the entire city to see if somewhere they had to run an errand before the snow actually began was on one. This is why signage is important. That’s great your neighborhood has lots of signs, many others do not. If you want to ticket someone for something you need to make sure there’s something clearly stating YOU WILL BE TICKETED FOR THIS.

          • Anon

            justinbc- This was one of the most accurately-predicted snow events in the city’s history. Everyone in the country knew a storm was coming and when it would hit. Yes, the city should put up signs (and I do see them everywhere, all over the city), but if you are planning to park your car on a major street in the city in the middle of a snow storm, isn’t it also your responsibility to make sure you’re parking legally? These cars impeded the snow clean-up. Bus routes are still be de-toured because of snow removal on snow emergency routes. Ambulances are getting stuck. All because people didn’t do their own due diligence. They were lucky they weren’t towed.

          • I will also add that after living here for almost a decade now and seen so many potential blizzards fizzle out into some rain or something I wouldn’t expect the actual “snow emergency” to start until there’s real snow on the ground. So even if I was a car driver, if I hadn’t seen that the Mayor declared it the night before then I wouldn’t expect to receive a ticket by parking on the street the next day when there’s no snow on the ground on a street where I’m complying with all the posted street signs.

          • anon

            justinbc- Then that’s your own fault. Snow or no snow, the city has a right to ticket you in a declared emergency, even if it doesn’t pan out. Just because you don’t believe weather forecasters doesn’t mean you get to declare a public street up for grabs.

          • @Anon, based on your post you’re missing several key points.
            “Yes, the city should put up signs (and I do see them everywhere, all over the city), but if you are planning to park your car on a major street in the city in the middle of a snow storm, isn’t it also your responsibility to make sure you’re parking legally? These cars impeded the snow clean-up. ”
            1) Multiple people here have commented that emergency routes in their area were not marked, 2) I’m only referring to cars who parked ON FRIDAY, which is when these tickets are being waived, for cars who parked before there was any snow…so your assertion that it was “in the middle of a snow storm” is invalid, as is the notion that they blocked snow clean-up
            If someone was parked in an emergency route on Saturday when snow plows were out then I have no sympathy for them. However for the people who got them 1) before it was snowing, and 2) in an area that was poorly marked, then I totally think their tickets should be waived.

          • nevermindtheend

            I think you’re missing the point of the snow emergency. If you wait until after it’s snowing to declare an emergency, you just end up with a bunch of parked cars stuck in the snow. It was declared ahead of the storm so that plows could get out once there was snow without having to dodge parked cars.

        • Anon

          Of course the city should, but not being extra diligent in times of snow emergency is selfish and dangerous. Try being a better citizen?

          • Entling

            If the city does not maintain accurate signage, how would you suggest that the diligent citizens who are not computer savvy and/or don’t have 24/7 access to the internet confirm a parking spot is not on a snow emergency route?

            Let us know how they can avoid being “selfish and dangerous” , thanks.

      • I don’t own a car, no ticket here. That doesn’t stop me from understanding that not everyone follows the news and is as diligent a citizen as I try to be.

        • guest1

          and that’s exactly why we have tickets… to encourage people to be more diligent citizens to avoid behavior that disrupts others (like snow plows)

          Also, ticketing before it snows is the prudent thing to do. Once it starts snowing, it is too late, especially given the rate it snowed.

          • That’s also why we have signs. Unfortunately the city did a poor job putting them up.

  • arcosantiunfinished

    The street I live on is clearly marked as a snow emergency route and yet people insisted on parking there. I cannot imagine a reason why they would not enforce the rules, it just encourages illegal parking next time. There’s a reason why this street is plowed, it’s used extensively by emergency vehicles.

  • mark miller

    Cheaper to just void all tickets than to deal with thousands of contested tickets, but I do hope the city spends the time and money to improve the signage, so that next time around, there’s no question about where you can and can’t park, and no need to void all the tickets.

    • ah

      The city is totally capable of just rejecting all appeals – they’ve done it for years with other things, why not this?

  • guest1

    Ok so first she said she won’t ticket those who fail to shovel. Then she cancels all public space parking permits (people are still moving), then she voids over a million dollars of tickets?

    Seriously, if you own a car, take some responsibility and look things up… or use some sense. Big roads are probably emergency routes.

    You know what would help us all make it through the storm? People not parking in emergency routes so that we can plow and people shoveling their sidewalks so people can stay out of the streets.

    This lady is nuts.

    • Anon Spock

      Not over a million…that’s total snow emergency ticketing from Friday to Wednesday night.

  • TJ

    Why rely on street signage when the Internet exists? http://snow.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/snow/snow_and_ice_control_snow_emergency_routes_map.pdf.
    DC parking signs can be confusing, contradictory and arbitrary. The map above seems like the way to know.

    • Entling

      The online map is a good resource but remember that not everyone in this city owns a smart phone or even has regular internet access. Some people may only be able to access the internet at the library or they may not be familiar with computers at all. For this reason emergency signage needs to complete and accurate.

      • ah

        How about this? If the Mayor announces towing on snow emergency routes, we can reasonably expect citizens to bother to figure out that they’re parked on a snow emergency route?

    • Anon Spock

      Because parking is set up that way. You’re not expected to look online to figure out the laws on every street, and tickets are routinely voided for lack of proper signage. With that in mind, plenty of people received tickets on cleared marked emergency routes too simply because they missed the numerous mentions of an emergency and when it began.

  • LadyInBlue

    Signage in this city is terrible… Over growth, turned , and missing…. Terrible!! Take a picture and fight it!!


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