Residential On Street Permits – DC Can’t seem to figure it out


Residential On Street Permits – DC Can’t seem to figure it out

I guess it shouldn’t surprise one.  The District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, can’t seem to get residential parking permits straight. That shouldn’t surprise a careful reader, since Washington hasn’t gotten anything else right for decades, but there you go. Read about it here.

There is a need for a residential program in many cities. They put up signs and then send out permits to local residents so they can park on the streets. Sometimes the program is in effect full time, sometimes only in evenings. Whatever makes sense. Residents must provide proof of residence. That seems right.

After all, if I worked at a nearby store, what is to keep me from applying for a permits a block away on a residential street.  But then, why shouldn’t I be able to do so. And what about visitors to the residents. How do you handle them?

I can understand why DC wants to give parking permits free to residents. Their argument is that they pay taxes, they should be able to park. Whoops — hold on there. What about Mazie who lives in an apartment above a garage and doesn’t have a car. She pays taxes through her rent. Why should she pay for the parking on the street to subsidize her landlord’s parking his $45000 1957 cherry jet black Ford Thunderbird  — you know, the one with the portholes – but I digress.

Then there are visitors. In DC, everyone gets a visitor’s permit, free. Of course that’s open to rampant abuse. Why not rent the permit to someone working nearby? And then there’s fraud.

I don’t think that residential permits should be free for anyone. If you live there and have off street parking (say in a garage or under an apartment) then you don’t need a permit and don’t pay anything. If you have three cars and only two spots off street, fine. Buy a permit so you can park your extra car on street. Maybe that would motivate some folks to clean out their garages and use it for what it was intended.

The charges don’t have to be onerous, but they should be enough to remind folks that parking isn’t free. The money should also go back into the neighborhoods to repair streets, curbs, and the like.

“But that isn’t fair” say the residents of DC. I pay taxes, I should park for free.  Well, then you should get your garbage picked up for free, your water for free, while we are at it lets do away with building inspectors,   well you get the idea.

But what about visitors. The residents should be able to get permits for them so they can party the night away or whatever. Simple – let them pay for them. If I drive to a downtown area to visit a friend in an apartment, I most likely have to pay for parking. So why not on a residential street?  They can go on line, pay the fee, and get a permit they could print out. It would be good only for the period paid for and could have a QR or Bar Code that is unique so that enforcement staff could scan it and ensure that no hanky panky was going on.

I know why all this is so difficult. Cities are run by politicians and they need to be elected. Who is going to vote for someone who made you pay for parking in front of your house? Politicians get elected by giving stuff away, not charging for it.

I’m sure DC will come up with a wonderful plan that will provide free parking for everyone and be impossible to administer or enforce. Why not? Virtually everything else that originates there is impossible to administer or enforce.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. I was reading the book, Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague DeCamp and came across this fascinating, and relatable statement. “Because these streets were sacred, special rules governed their use. Sennacherib, the Assyrian engineer-king, set up the first no-parking signs. He placed posts along the processional way in Nineveh, inscribed: ROYAL ROAD. LET NO MAN LESSEN IT. Not yet satisfied, Sennacherib decreed that any scoundrel who parked a chariot or other vehicle along this boulevard should be slain and his body impaled on a stake before his house. Perhaps such measures would be helpful in coping with modern parking problems” P. 66.

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