D.C. raising parking meter fees, extending enforcement hours

A parking sign on Water Street SE has been modified to display new regulations.
A parking sign on Water Street SE has been modified to display new regulations. (Robert Thomson/the Washington Post)
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By Robert Thomson
Sunday, January 10, 2010

On cold and windswept Water Street SE, Terraine Wiggins and Dion James were beginning a process Wednesday that will affect thousands of drivers.

The District Department of Transportation workers placed a ladder against the parking regulation signs near the waterfront and then pasted decals over the lines stating the hours and days people must feed the meters.

One new decal reads "10 PM," indicating the extended nighttime hours for pay parking. The other decal reads "Mon -- Sat," indicating that the city's longtime moratorium on most Saturday meter enforcement is ending.

Wiggins, James and their co-workers are supposed to repeat that conversion more than 100,000 times by Jan. 19, adjusting all the signs on streets affected by new parking policies. Other city workers are updating the meters governing the District's 17,157 pay parking spaces. Their decals need to reflect the new days and hours, and the city also is completing the conversion of most meters to the new maximum rate of $2 an hour.

This is what you need to know about D.C. street parking.

The basics

-- Parkers will pay $2 an hour in the premium zones. That's 14,749 spaces in commercial districts, entertainment areas, streets near Metro stations and other centers where people congregate. Meters for the remaining 2,408 spaces will charge 75 cents an hour.

-- Payment will be required on Saturdays at all metered spaces. There was a moratorium on this in most parts of the city. The problem, DDOT says, was that people were staying for a long time at these free spaces on Saturdays. So the District government has lifted the moratorium to encourage drivers to move and let others park.

-- Payment will be required until 10 p.m. in many of the city's high-demand areas.

Rationales and protests

Municipalities increase parking rates and enforcement hours to raise revenue, improve access to local businesses, entertainment areas and institutions; and ease traffic congestion. The first reason, more money, is pretty straightforward. Access is improved when parkers are encouraged to limit their stays or to park in a garage. That creates turnover on street spaces. Turnover also eases traffic congestion. Fewer drivers wander the streets in fruitless searches for open spaces.

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