Wanted or Not, a New Visitors Parking Pass System is Here

A new online-based visitors parking system has just been rolled out for the city. And for the first time, it will include Ward 2.

As you may know, prior to this new system, every resident of all the Wards except 2 were entitled to an annual visitors parking pass. This paper pass enabled the holder to park their car in the same ANC as the resident for as long as they want. The reason Ward 2 opted out of the program is that the idea of flooding neighborhoods like Georgetown, Dupont, and Foggy Bottom with scores of commuters borrowing or buying the permits was unacceptable.

If a resident of Georgetown had a visitor coming and wanted to let them park for more than 2 hours, they had to travel to the police station and obtain a temporary parking pass. This was obviously a pain compared with the convenience of having an unlimited annual pass, but the shortage of parking supply justified it.

The new system does away with both procedures.

No more will any DC resident simply get an unlimited visitors parking pass in the mail. Nor will residents who couldn’t get those passes have to travel to the police station. Now it is all handled online at ParkDC.

You need to set up an account there (it took GM about five minutes to do so). From that site you can schedule visitors. All passes will be tied to a specific car and license plate (as it was under the police station permit process). And you need to specify the time and duration of the visit (it can be recurring). You need to print the pass out and put it on your visitor’s dashboard. If you don’t have a printer, you can go to the Georgetown library to have it printed out. Like the old annual passes, the permits are only good for streets in your ANC, not the whole Zone 2 (more on that below).

As long as you schedule only one visitor at a time, you may use an unlimited amount of time for the pass. However, if you need to issue two permits simultaneously, you are limited to 2,160 aggregate hours of scheduled time.

The new system truly is a hybrid of the two old systems. The permits are tied to specific vehicles for specific times like the temporary passes Georgetowners could get. But they also effectively allow one car to park an unlimited amount like the annual passes did. And all the reasons the annual passes were a problem for Georgetown remain. It would be simple, and potentially very profitable, for a Georgetown resident to sell off a permit to a commuter to Georgetown. While that would clearly be illegal, it’s not obvious how the city would actually catch you.

On a related note, yesterday Councilmembers Henderson and Pinto introduced a bill to reduce the size of residential parking zones. Currently, if you have a residential parking permit, it’s good for the entire ward. For years many have argued to reduce the zone to just your ANC (like the annual visitors passes did). Some neighborhoods in Wards 1 and 4 already have adopted that approach. This bill would bring it to the whole city.

This would help Georgetown substantially. A study from several years ago found that a large number of cars parked on the streets with Zone 2 stickers were actually not Georgetown residents but rather residents of other Ward 2 neighborhoods who worked in Georgetown. The new system would not allow them to park here like that.

But it would also not allow Georgetowners to park in neighborhoods like Dupont or Shaw unlimited either. For this reason there has always been a vocal minority against this proposal. Despite the fact that the whole purpose of the residential parking permits are to help residents park near their homes, people accustomed to using it to park far from their homes are likely to put up a stink about it. We’ll see how it fares with the Council.

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