Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ROSA, RPP, Guest Passes: It's Complicated (Part I)

Where and how are your overnight guests allowed to park if you live on a street zoned for residential parking in DC? This question has been batted back and forth on the Cleveland Park Listserv recently, and the Director of the DPW has weighed in on the matter on Second District Police’s listserv. The multitude of voices, each offering his or her own reading of the parking regs, has only served to make the picture murkier. Here are some of the factors in play.

First, DC will ticket any car parked more than two hours on a zoned residential street unless that car displays an RPP (Residential Parking Permit) sticker for that zone. You can purchase an RPP sticker for your car only if you have registered your car in DC and live on a street zoned for RPP parking. So, for example, if you live in an apartment building on Connecticut Avenue, there’s no way you can get an RPP sticker, no matter where your car is registered.

Now if you do have an RPP sticker, you are also entitled to a guest parking pass to give to your visitors from out of state or from other zones in the city. You might think that this pass would allow your overnight guests to park on the street and not get a ticket. Here’s what happened to a neighbor who had a frequent overnight visitor using the guest pass on his car.

A friend who lives in Baltimore teaches night classes at the Johns Hopkins DC campus a couple of nights a week and frequently stays with me so that he can offer office hours during the day.

I thought: Perfect use of guest parking pass! Nope.

He received a $100 ticket this week because the guest parking pass only exempts one from zone parking restrictions. It does not exempt one from ROSA rules.

(ROSA stands for “Registration of Out of State Automobiles,” which states: “Automobiles housed in the District of Columbia for 30 consecutive days are required to be registered and display a valid DC inspection sticker and tags when parked or operated on public space. The Metropolitan Police Department monitors residential areas for the presence of automobiles not in compliance with DC registration requirements. If an automobile has been observed a second time within a thirty-day period, a warning notice may be issued indicating the automobile is eligible for the issuance of a citation and/or impoundment unless one of the following actions has been taken.”)
The neighbor also posted a clarification on the RPP/ROSA rules from her local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner:
Yes, those guest parking permits are only good during the restricted hours posted on your street. They are not supposed to be used for overnight guests. Overnight guests are supposed to get a "reciprocity" tag. This program needs to be revisited and redesigned. Most people do not understand the limitations of the guest passes. And most residents need more flexibility for guest parking (my son, for example, who visits from NYC, can't park on our streets when he comes for Thanksgiving). I suggest that you email [Ward 3 Councilmember] Mary Cheh with the details of what happened. It's time to start figuring out a better way to do this.
So, here’s the problem: The law, as written, states that an out-of-state vehicle must be re-registered in DC within 30 days. And yet the police are ticketing out-of-state registered vehicles if they are spotted a second time within the same 30 day period – whether or not they display a guest pass – unless they display a “reciprocity tag.” In other words, the owner of an out-of-state vehicle may not visit a DC resident and park on the resident's zone street more than once a month without having to go to the nearest police station and request a “reciprocity” tag. This is not the sort of thing you expect a family member, for example, to have to do soon after they arrive from a long, tiring drive to your house. But if they don’t, they’re risking a $100 dollar ticket.

In Part II, tomorrow, we’ll hear what DPW Director William Howland has to say in defense of the $100 ticket, and from another ANC Commissioner who believes that ticket writers are misunderstanding the 30-days-to-register law.

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