A dispute between neighbors in a northeast D.C. community reveals a potential loophole in Washington, D.C., parking rules, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team. The loophole allows residents to clog neighborhood streets with a limitless number of vehicles and block curb access to nearby homes.
The I-Team’s review also found the D.C. police visitor parking permit system can be obtained and used by homeowners for their own personal vehicles and needn’t be assigned only to the cars of actual visitors. The I-Team also found there is no limit on the number of personal cars for which D.C. residents can obtain visitor parking permits for themselves.
The I-Team undertook a review of the Metropolitan Police Department visitors parking pass system amid questions from homeowners along 50th Place NE. The visitors parking pass system allows for any D.C. resident to obtain a free two-week street parking permit for a visitor’s car, as long as the resident makes the request in person at the nearest DC police station.
For at least five months in 2017, two residents of a 50th Place home parked seven vehicles along the curbs on their street. The I-Team review found three of the cars displayed visitors parking permits, reissued regularly in two-week increments, to allow the cars to legally sit idle on the neighborhood street, even if not registered to their home.
One of the owners of those vehicles is himself a D.C. police officer, the I-Team learned. Through an agency spokeswoman, the officer declined to comment. The woman with whom he has lived acknowledged the seven vehicles belong to her and the officer. She declined further comment to the I-Team.
Some of the vehicles appear to have been unmoved for several months, in curbside parking spaces near the intersection of 50th Place NE and Jay Street, according to months of monitoring by the I-Team.
“If this is ongoing and overnight (parking), it’s obviously a misuse of that temporary parking pass,” said D.C. Council member Mary Cheh. She said her office would consider a further review of the parking pass system.
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The presence of the seven cars triggered formal complaints to the D.C. government by Gregory Ward, a neighbor on 50th Place NE. Ward said the seven vehicles reduce street parking for neighboring homeowners, including in front of his house.
“If you are taking spaces from people that need it in an older neighborhood, to me that's being selfish,” Ward said.
Shortly after the I-Team began submitting formal inquiries about the vehicles on 50th Place NE, the owners of the cars registered the vehicles to the 50th Place addressed and ceased displaying visitor parking permits.
“All of the officer’s vehicles are registered to the address on 50th Place and no longer require visitor parking permits,” said a D.C. police spokeswoman.
“Anyone who thinks otherwise should contact the Department of Public Works, as we have done, to determine whether the officer should be cited,” she said. “We hope this issue can be resolved amicably between neighbors.”
D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission representative Antawan Holmes, who chairs the commission, which includes 50th Place NE, said he frequently receives complaints about usage of D.C. police visitor parking passes. Holmes said the usage of visitor passes by the two residents of 50th Place NE was problematic.
“It seems a bit much to have seven cars for one resident,” Holmes said. “They're taking advantage of a loophole in a process that people can ask for as many parking passes as necessary and they're for personal vehicles not for people who are coming to visit them.”
Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Jeff Piper.