D.C. looks to expand visitor parking passes citywide

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Photo - The D.C. Department of Transportation is proposing to expand the city's visitor parking pass program. (Examiner file photo)
The D.C. Department of Transportation is proposing to expand the city's visitor parking pass program. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Transportation,Kytja Weir

That cousin visiting town soon may be able to park a lot easier in D.C. neighborhoods because city officials are planning to expand a visitor parking permit program across the city.

The District Department of Transportation plans to propose regulations in Friday's D.C. Register of administrative rules, giving it authority to expand the visitor pass program, said spokesman John Lisle.

For years, residents who had guests needing to park had to go to a local police station and sign up for a placard that expired after 15 days.

Under the pass program, though, residents keep the cards for a year and lend them as needed to visitors who need parking. Visitors with placards may park for more than two hours on restricted "residential permit parking" blocks. When they leave, they return the cards to residents.

Similar systems are common around the country.

"For residents, it's a no-brainer," Lisle said. "It's so much easier than going to the police station to get one."

The District's program began in 2008 when the city started handing out placards to residents in a pilot program. Since then, the program has expanded to parts of five of the city's eight wards. The city now hands out about 71,000 of the placards annually.

"These started as pilot programs in parts of the city that wanted these," Lisle said.

But not all of the residential parking areas have the visitor parking passes, or even want them. Lisle said the city has never received any requests from Wards 7 and 8.

In other areas, residents are concerned the passes will be abused by residents selling their cards in areas with high demand for parking, such as school zones. The city already has been grappling with misuse of handicapped parking placards.

Even though it has the authority to expand the parking pass system citywide, DDOT won't do so immediately. Lisle said officials plan to meet with neighborhood groups where residents oppose the cards. But the expansion could begin next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kytja Weir

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner