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Visitor Parking Pass spotted on Craiglist for $60 – Does a significant black market exist for them?

by Prince Of Petworth February 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm 76 Comments

Free parking - DC 2016 Visitors Parking Pass (any zone)

“Dear PoPville,

A resident pointed out to our ANC (Mount Pleasant) that there’s an ad on Craigslist offering “Free parking — DC 2016 Visitors Parking Pass (any zone) — $60”. The Visitor Parking Passes are very popular among residents, allowing them to have guests, or contractors, without having to worry about RPP parking tickets. But from the beginning, there’s been concern that the VPPs would be abused, sold to commuters with jobs in neighborhood businesses. Should that abuse be widespread, the VPP program could well be cancelled.

The law is clear: “DCMR 18, 2414.18: The forgery, counterfeiting, sale, exchange for value, or unauthorized use or replication of an annual visitor parking pass shall be punishable by a fine of three hundred dollars ($300).” That means that both the seller of a VPP (including a legitimately obtained pass), and the user (a commuter, not a visitor to the owner of the VPP), are subject to $300 fines. The serial numbers on the VPPs make it easy to connect an improperly used VPP to its resident owner.

Is this a substantial problem in this area? If so, then measures will have to be taken to stop abuse, and preserve the VPP program for residents who use it properly.

— Jack McKay
ANC 1D03″

  • ZetteZelle

    I feel a little sorry for the person who buys the pass believing that it works in “any zone.” 3F isn’t a place where I’ve ever wanted to park for more than 2 hours.

    • textdoc

      That’s what I was thinking originally… but then I wondered if the supplier has somehow acquired passes for all 8 wards/parking zones.

    • anon capitol hill

      To be fair, parking enforcement doesn’t seem to check the actual zone. I see commuters with VPPs for a different ANC all the time in my neighborhood, and I’ve never seen those cars with tickets.

      • textdoc

        That probably means they don’t check the specific ANC district as long as the pass is for the correct zone (in the photo, zone 3). I’d be surprised if they weren’t checking for the correct zone, given how zealous the parking enforcement is in D.C.

    • dcd

      Really? I’m polar opposite from “I feel sorry for them.” More like, “Serves them right.”

      • ZetteZelle

        I feel sorry for them in the same way I feel sorry for anyone whose dishonesty brings bad results. Sympathy with a snicker.

    • neighbor

      I saw this ad. The text indicated that the person had passes for all zone (which, since zones are ANCs is quite a few). So either they have an in at DDOT or perhaps were stealing them on demand?

      • anony

        They’re probably just printing them up in photoshhop, then hitting them with some Krylon spray glitter to make them look legit.

  • Judging by all of them on my street everyday during the workday, right near a school with very few parking spots, I’d say there’s a strong market for them.
    Weren’t there break ins near Nats Stadium, just to take these off dashboards?

    • anon capitol hill

      That’s why they started putting QR codes on them – VPP thefts were happening all over.

  • Dave

    I can attest that there is very little black market for these in desirable zones, as I have made many discreet efforts to purchase one for the area where I work.

  • JohnH

    I don’t know how tough these are enforced, but the pass is only good for your ANC which is relatively small, not the entire zone. Also, you can’t use these as a second parking permit. Someone I know who had moved in to an apartment was using this pass until they changed their car registration and once 30 days hit, they got a warning ticket on their dashboard.

    • Jo

      Unless your small ANC zone happens to sit on top of a metro station, e.g. This is why coupon-booklets-style passes that you write the date of use on would have been better than unlimited-use passes.

    • DupontDC

      Same – this happened to me. I moved into the city and waited a month to get my tags changed (can’t help not being motivated to go to the DMV). However, once 30 days hit, I got a warning ticket giving me one last chance to get my tags changed.

      I can’t see how this would work for someone who wants to use this for an entire year. Even if you park in different areas of the zone each day, they will most likely start to spot your car (they track your plate number in those handheld devises) and begin to ticket you.

      • H St Resident

        Incorrect. This is a huge (and known) loophole with DMV/DDOT/DPW. Generally speaking, cars can get a VPP (black market or not), and they can park during RPP hours until 12/31. There is no definition of “abuse.” Once they get the ROSA warning (outside of RPP hours), they can get the exemption to park at night. Perfect example of one agency not knowing/caring what another agency is doing. So yes, it is done (with great frequency) – you get the VPP and then ROSA and boom! Free parking for a year!

        • DupontDC

          Interesting. We received our RPP in the mail because, at the time, they were mailing these to households in certain zones (mine being Zone 6 near Nats Park). There was a span of time where I had to work from home for two weeks in a row and sure enough, I got the 30-day warning while displaying the RPP.

        • Anonymous

          Yup this is true. My ex-GF lived in VA and would stay with me for a week at a time during her school breaks. Once she turned in the ROSA verification she could use my VPP as much as she wanted, zero issues. And this was right off U Street nightlife strip, where the parking enforcement is absolutely brutal. It’s a glaring loophole.

  • JG

    There is considerable abuse of these in the Navy Yard neighborhood, most often by DC and Federal government workers. I’ve seen a posting offering one for $800, though I suspect they usually sell for a little less than that. Enforcement is very difficult – Parking Enforcement barely has resources to check meters, let alone examine parking pass numbers, and after a $300 fine, the original owner can still pocket a profit.

    • lizcolleena

      Doesn’t this seem like the kind of job that pays for itself?

      • JG

        You would certainly think so…

    • navyard

      “There is considerable abuse of these in the Navy Yard neighborhood, most often by DC and Federal government workers. ”
      Citation needed.

      • Anon Imus

        You must be new here if you’re expecting a citation anywhere in these comments

  • ah

    I suspect it’s a thing – enforcement isn’t sufficient.

    That said, kind of idiotic to place a picture of the pass with serial number and QR online.

  • lizcolleena

    Does anyone know how to get a new one issued (legally and properly)?

  • Ryan

    I don’t know who Jack McCay, but his note is both obnoxious and indicative of the overall lack of creative-thinking in government. He essentially says if the illegal sales continue, then the program will just be cancelled. What a lazy approach. The response should have been “if the illegal sales continue, we’ll have to develop a new way to pursue enforcement and re-design the program so it works better.” It’s just pathetic, especially because he himself acknowledges it’s not difficult to find the source of the permit.

    • DCReggae

      Ryan – Jack isn’t a government official. He’s a long time resident of Mt. P, who’s on the neighborhood ANC board. I highly doubt he makes nor enforces the RPP parking laws. He’s simply looking out for everyone who uses the program and wants it to continue…SO CHILL THE FUCK OUT

    • ZetteZelle

      He’s an ANC commissioner–a volunteer civic leader, not someone employed by the gov’t.

    • My point is that if there is significant abuse of the VPP program, then the District Government is likely to cancel the program. The program has been very popular here in Mount Pleasant, which is where it began, seven years ago. But from the beginning people have worried that these would be misused as commuter parking passes. That has not seemed to be a major problem, but I do hear reports of numerous cars parked with VPP passes, possibly workers in our neighborhood businesses. This reference to a Craigslist supplier of VPP passes suggests that there’s a real problem out there.

      My goal is to preserve the VPP system, which has been very beneficial to residents. Detection of abuse seems to be difficult — how does one know if a car parked with a VPP pass is a legitimate visitor, or a commuter to a local business? — identifying the owner of the VPP pass doesn’t answer that question. Call him up, and even if he’s sold his VPP pass to some local-business employee, he’ll just say that the user of the pass is his visitor.

      BTW, the addition of serial numbers to the passes, and the new requirement that they be applied for on-line, suggest that the DC Government is concerned about abuse, and is modifying the system to better prevent abuse.

      So termination of the VPP program is, if abuse is frequent, a real possibility. Feel free to take that up with your Councilmember.

      • ah

        Let’s start with some actual enforcement so that the VPPs are limited to the area for which they were issued.

        Then consider a VPP with even more limited boundaries (not just ANC, but by neighborhood).

        Better yet, ditch the annual VPP and go to some sort of daily coupon system with a limited number of coupons for each resident to use (say 30). You can buy more. If you have a nanny or someone who needs it every day, then you should pay for them to use that space on the street – I pay for my street parking (yes, it’s laughably little) and anyone who uses a street space regularly should pay, even if not a resident.

        • textdoc

          They aren’t even enforcing by ANC now (as far as I know), except possibly in some limited areas where the ANC district is actually marked on the parking sign. (I was noticing the other day that a block near the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro had signage specifically referencing Zone 4C, rather than just the regular Zone 4.)
          Seems like they could if they wanted to, though.

          • jcm

            ANC level enforcement creates some weird situations though. I live on the border of two ANCs, with alternate side street sweeping. So on street sweeping days my VPP is not actually valid on my own street, and my neighbors across the street have a VPP that is only valid on street sweeping days. The parking zones account for this problem by having a buffer area with two valid parking zones, but the VPPs didn’t do this.
            I think they should probably switch to selling us coupon books for visitor parking, and have them be valid using the parking zones. Selling them in books of 10 tickets for $50 or something would probably help reduce the residential park and ride business around metro stations like Petworth.

  • TJ

    Workers at the nursing home on Newton St in Mount Pleasant. seem to have no trouble gathering these passes up illegally each year, and no wonder with some moron offering one for sale on Craigslist for $60. In the right location this pass is worth far more than that, with limited residential street parking and no nearby commercial garages. Surely the proper black market price is at least that PER MONTH, if not more.

    I would like to see better enforcement by parking enforcement. Illegal sales and use of these passes displaces residentual use of curbside parking. Drive to work and you should pay a market rate for it in a legal fashion.

    • anonymous

      Agreed. The thing that surprise me most about this post was the offering price. Hell, at least get back what it costs you to register for street parking. Another issue with the current VPP practice is the ability to go to the police station to get a pass even when you have a permanent pass. So if you use it as intended (a few times a year for guests) and are not lazy, you really don’t need the permanent pass. I have one and wouldn’t sell it because I am lazy, but when I used to live in a neighborhood that didn’t offer these, it was super easy to get them from the police. I had a VA gf, and I would just get her a new one every two weeks.

      • It’s likely either counterfeited or stolen if it’s going for that price. They just want to unload it, not make huge profit.

      • textdoc

        Street parking is $35. Were you thinking that the seller ought to be factoring in the cost of his/her car registration too?

        • ah

          Considering market value, not cost. If parking in an area is $10/day, that’s $2000+ for a year of workdays.

        • textdoc

          It was anonymous’s “[G]et back what it costs you to register for street parking” that I was asking about.

      • navyard

        It’s super easy to run to the police station for a temp pass, except when your visitors show up before you do. My guests are given access to my house prior to my arrival (I have electronic locks) and they usually just run in and grab the pass. If they had to wait until I got home, it would be an inconvenience for me.

  • dcd

    Can enforcement of VPP passes be tied into the ROSA enforcement system? ROSA issues warnings, and ultimately tickets, for vehicles parked in DC that don’t have DC registrations. Seems tailor-made to address VPP abuses.

    • H St Resident

      DDOT has VPP; DMV/DPW does ROSA. No coordination at all. You’d think in a city that loves to generate revenue based on parking enforcement, this would be a no brainer. But no…..

    • ROSA is nighttime patrolling, and so cannot help with VPP monitoring. The problem is, if one comes across a car with MD or VA tags, and a VPP pass, how does one know whether the user is a legitimate visitor, or is an employee misusing a pass obtained from a compliant resident? I can think of ways to do this, but they would be as slow and labor-intensive as the ROSA program is.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    Those fines aren’t nearly high enough to deter abuse. Make them something like $2,000, step up enforcement, and people will stop abusing the system.

  • I checked my old notes and determined that the VPP program was created in 2008, as the “Mount Pleasant Visitor Pass Pilot Program”, courtesy of CM Jim Graham. Evidently there was a predecessor in Ward Four. We (the Mount Pleasant ANC) endorsed that effort in a resolution of May, 2008. Since then I’ve worked with DDOT to continue and expand the program.

    Personally I don’t care for the name — it’s not so much for “visitors”, as it is for “household help”, who come to service our homes and children, but cannot park in the neighborhood. I would have called it “household employee parking pass”. Too many people see “visitor” and imagine that people will be inviting hordes of friends to come park in the neighborhood.

    We have a considerable number of apartment-house residents who don’t own cars, but do qualify for VPPs, and could easily be tempted into obtaining, and selling, their VPP pass. So I’m putting out word in this neighborhood that that’s illegal, and merits a $300 fine.

    • textdoc

      It _can_ be for visitors — I think different people use their VPPs differently.
      I don’t have regular “household employees,” but I use my VPP when contractors come to my house, as well as when friends come in from out of town.

      • textdoc

        But yes, there’s a lot of potential for abuse. I think I read somewhere about a Zone 1 VPP going for $300.

      • FridayGirl

        +1 to this. I’ve had friends who drive and live off the metro in VA or MD use it while they visited me for the day before (but only one at a time! I didn’t even know it was possible to have multiple passes to “invite hoards of friends”?). It sure beats paying $20 for garage parking if you’ll only be staying for a couple hours.

      • TJ

        Yes, that’s right. A cleaning crew visits our house every two weeks but doesn’t stay long enough to need the pass. Friends visiting from out of town over a weekend, however, do in certain circumstances need it.

  • SydneyP

    Ah, this explains why a dozen cars on my block, driven by residents who have lived in DC for years, have VPPs and keep their vehicles registered in Maryland and Virginia. I guess tax evasion and insurance fraud matter to them as little as cheating the city’s parking and registration rules. They can just let us neighbors cover the cost of their free parking and road use.

    • Marty

      I suppose i’m too lazy to google this – what is the relative cost to register the same car in each of the three jurisdictions?

      • Anonymous

        DC levies a hefty vehicle tax upfront when you register. It can be in the multiple thousands for a pricey automobile. As a trade off, the annual registration fees are lower than in VA or MD. But DC want’s it’s money upfront, as citizens often defect to the suburbs or are only in DC until administrations change.

        • Anonymous

          To be fair, the tax is waived if there is no change in ownership from the names listed on the previous title, so if you’re just registering a car you already own (and aren’t removing or adding a co-owner in the process, for example) you won’t owe the excise tax. I’d imagine this is pretty common.

          • JoDa

            Exactly correct. If you’ve owned the vehicle for some paltry amount of time (I believe it was 6 months), then you pay no excise tax. In the other circumstance, if you’ve owned it for less than that time (buy elsewhere and then move it into DC pretty immediately) – the first Anon is still slightly wrong. You do pay the DC excise tax (which is 6% for common passenger autos including most small and medium SUVs, which is the same as MD and only 1.9% higher than VA; also 0% for hybrids), but you can request a refund of the excise tax you paid in the other jurisdiction. So, if you buy in MD and get MD temporary tags, but then properly register your car in DC, you’re out the money for a few weeks while you file the relevant paperwork in MD. If you bought your car when you lived somewhere else and moved to DC after legitimately registering it in that other jurisdiction for at least 6 months, you pay nothing but ordinary registration fees.

      • anon

        When I lived in VA, I paid several hundred dollars a year in car tax for my 10 year old car. I don’t remember the fee to register that car in DC, but I do recall it being less than a single year of car tax. I’ve heard keeping a car registered in MD is fairly inexpensive.

    • Mr. Magoo

      “Free parking and road use”? Not quite. The DC Office of Tax and Revenue doesn’t care where your car is registered. If you reside in DC and own property in DC you are paying DC income and property taxes.

  • anon

    I was parking an out of state car on a moderately regular basis with a valid parking permit, and I did get tickets and was forced to get that ROSA registration. If you buy a visitor parking pass, you are not in the clear. You still have to get the ROSA registration and also display the visitor pass.

  • anon

    I’m not sure why employees of local businesses who drive to work (some no doubt because they need to drive there, others who could get there by public transportation) are less deserving of placed to park on the street than the visitors (be they household help, contractors, or guests) of local residents. I do live in DC, and do use my visitors pass occasionally for my guests, but I do feel for the people who work in nearby businesses who serve the residents of the neighborhood. Many in the service businesses surely don’t earn enough to add daily parking to their expenses. Visitors passes are nice things to have in neighborhoods where parking is tight, but should residents own the street parking spaces? Shouldn’t others be allowed to park?

    • textdoc

      The D.C. government allows residents _on residential streets_ to petition for zoned parking. Commercial streets are not eligible for zoned parking.

      • Anonymous

        Not quite how DDOT operates the program. While DDOT’s web-site states that residents on commercial streets are not eligible for RPP, a quick check of DDOT’s RPP database shows that it includes a large number of commercial blocks with mixed use buildings. It even has included buildings with zoning orders that state that residents will not be eligible for RPP.

        • textdoc

          Yeah, how it works in practice is not necessarily how it’s supposed to work.

    • dcd

      I generally agree with this. When some j****ss from Bethesda wants to park in Petworth, or Tenleytown, for free so he can take the metro and avoid paying for parking, not so much.

    • ah

      Residents don’t “own” the street parking spaces. In these areas spaces are available first come/first serve. The only difference is that residents are allowed to park their cars for unlimited time (if they paid $35/year for it). Non-residents get two hours. If those non-residents live in DC they likely can get a similar benefit at their home. Non-taxpayers from MD and VA (and elsewhere) can park for 2 hours free, but don’t get the benefit of DC taxpayers providing them with free long-term parking.

      • dchawk0303

        I think a lot of people think that they do “own” the street parking outside of their homes, especially in places like Mt. Pleasant.

      • petworth_planted

        Tell it to the ANCs who have Resident Parking Only from 12:01am until 11:59pm. Sounds like a land grab to me. /s

    • I agree that there should be some provision for employees of neighborhood businesses, given that there’s not a single commercial parking facility in Mount Pleasant. So, even as I was arranging for several blocks here to go RPP, I arranged for daytime-only parking passes available for purchase by employees of neighborhood businesses. To this day you will note that some of our RPP signs are labeled “1DD”, an indication that that block was available for daytime-only commuter parking.

      Thus the employees of Bancroft Elementary and the Stoddard Baptist Home would have been able to park here, for a fee, the proceeds of the effort to go to the benefit of the neighborhood.

      Almost pulled it off, too, as the 1DD signs show. But — the intended beneficiaries of this program just hated the notion of actually paying for curbside parking. And residents objected to anyone “selling” their parking spaces. So that program died, even before it began. And that’s one reason why we have Bancroft and Stoddard employees apparently misusing the VPP program, so that they can park in the neighborhood.

      Counted 10 VPP permits in use on that one block of Newton that is especially subject to this problem.

    • TJ

      One shouldn’t expect to have the ability to to park on his own residential street and a residential street somewhere else at below-market rates. Pick one. I’ll take the residential streets near my property, thanks. If you come into the high-density area where I live for work every day you can arrange and/or pay for off-street parking, just I would have to do at my workplace. Pretty simple. Need, salary, who the workers serve, or whatever shouldn’t be a factor.

      Moreover, it isn’t about ownership. It is about giving priority to those who live nearby. Those visiting temporariy have a way to park for short periods of time under the systems in place.

  • anonymous

    It seems to me that existing technology can easily be employed to cut down on any abuse of these passes. Each pass is embedded with information that is gathered when the pass is scanned. Parking enforcement agents should be scanning each pass to make sure in the first instance that each pass is both current and applicable to the area where the car is parked. They can also attach scans or photos of the license plate using the pass and keep track of where and how long a pass is being used to cut down on people using them as substitutes for RPPs. It doesn’t make any sense to embed these passes with information if the information is not going to be used.

  • dcrez

    I’m wondering about how to stop abuse of parking on non-zoned streets. I live on a street that is not zoned (no RPP) – it is completely residential. The next two blocks down are also not zoned. I realize at some point the residents likely voted for this, but as more and more businesses are popping up near by, and as the neighborhood is changing (maybe houses being split into apartments), I have noticed A LOT of Virginia and Maryland plates parking for days at a time, sometimes weeks, without moving their cars. Many times, I get home after work/class and have no where to park, because the only sticker DC would give me was “NO RPP” based on my address. Seems to me people are moving into the neighborhood and not registering their cars, or just using our street for free parking by the metro….

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Start reporting them for ROSA violations.

    • OP Anon

      You can change your block to a zoned block, if you gather a majority of your neighbors’ signatures. We did it on my old block, the entire process took about 5 months from start to finish. DDOT also does a test to ensure (1.) 70% of the available spots are used and (2.) 10% of the parked vehicles are registered outside the District.

  • anon

    I’m wondering about how to stop abuse of parking on non-zoned streets. I live on a street that is not zoned (no RPP) – it is completely residential. The next two blocks down are also not zoned. I realize at some point the residents likely voted for this, but as more and more businesses are popping up near by, and as the neighborhood is changing (maybe houses being split into apartments), I have noticed A LOT of Virginia and Maryland plates parking for days at a time, sometimes weeks, without moving their cars. Many times, I get home after work/class and have no where to park, because the only sticker DC would give me was “NO RPP” based on my address. Seems to me people are moving into the neighborhood and not registering their cars, or just using our street for free parking by the metro….

  • Parker

    I live on the 1500 block of Corcoran St NW and apparently our ANC district opted out of this program because it was being abused so badly. Not sure if that means people aren’t still using these passes to park in our neighborhood but I don’t recall seeing them.

  • Kingdocnuts

    This was actually very useful for us. We had a family friend transferred down here for work temporarily. He was here 3 to 4 days at a time then gone for 3 to 4 days. Sometimes gone for 6-8 weeks. The vpp worked great. Out of caution we registered his car with rosa. So with that and the pass it was all good. Helped save a marriage. Don’t sell the passes you never know when they come in handy. Lasted 14 moths doing this without an issue.

    • textdoc

      “Don’t sell the passes you never know when they come in handy.” It’s true that you never know when your VPP might come in handy… but you also shouldn’t sell your VPP because it’s PROHIBTED, and for good reason. Selling your pass enriches you at your neighbors’ expense and defeats the whole purpose of the VPP program.


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