Metropolitan Police Department (DC Police / MPD)

DC Council Members Want Action on Visitor Parking Permit Abuse

D.C. Council members want action after a News4 I-Team investigation found rampant abuse of visitor parking permits, including some being sold for profit on the streets.

The I-Team caught a man on camera selling the permits issued by the Metropolitan Police Department, though he denied it when confronted. Police tracked him down and fined him.

"It is a citation that carries a $300 fine," D.C. Police Cmdr. Leslie Parsons said.

Homeowner Pam Chisholm said her streets are covered with the visitor parking permits — so many she's afraid to move her car.

"You can't go out on the weekends,” she said. “Like, you're almost stuck in the house."

The I-Team tracked dozens of permits tucked in dashboards in a three block area — many in the same cars — with newly issued dates every two weeks and found some being used by construction workers and employees of the nearby Marriott Marquis. They told the I-Team family or friends obtained the permits for them.

"I really applaud you guys for getting out there and catching the fraud that is happening," Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans said.

He said the city needs to step up enforcement for abuse, but doesn't think changing the application process would be fair to those who use it legitimately. Right now, any homeowner can apply for a pass at their local police station.

"The job more lies on the city, once we are notified as we are now, to get out there and penalize people, and it may be, again, some of our traffic control officers waiting for someone to come out after work," Evans said.

Council member Mary Cheh said those caught selling the passes should face more than just fines, possibly making it a misdemeanor.

"I think we have to start thinking of some more severe consequences for people," she said

She sent a letter to D.C.'s attorney general and the police chief asking for recommendations on toughening up the program.

"The only way to track it is to have it electronic,” she said. “That's the only way to track it."

Right now it's all done by hand in a log book.

"We should really take a look at what we're doing because it's not really very effective," Cheh said.

Council member Charles Allen has a new bill limiting any homeowner to just 30 days of police visitor parking passes per year.

"It's obvious that it is a flaw because the city knows that people can get 35 or 40 parking stickers a month,” Chisholm said. “Nobody has that many visitors a month."

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