The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Changes to D.C. visitor parking passes are nixed

Use your visitor parking pass properly lest you incur the wrath of the city’s ticket-writing force. (Amanda Voisard/The Washington Post)

About a month ago, neighborhood activists in the city’s densest neighborhoods issued a civic cry of bloody murder after the District Department of Transportation announced that it was reworking its visitor parking pass program.

The new plan — which would allow households on any block requiring residential parking permits to request a free pass — threatened to overwhelm parking-scarce neighborhoods with outside parkers, they said. Under the current system, all households on permit blocks automatically mailed a free pass, except in some particularly parking-scarce neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle and Georgetown.

The agency showed no sign of backing down, but now lawmakers have: On Tuesday, the plans were nixed by the D.C. Council, which voted unanimously to scrap the new system and keep the status quo until at least December.

The bill, which was introduced by Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and will be valid for 90 days upon receiving Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s signature, allows existing permit holders to continue to use their passes even after the Sept. 30 expiration date.

Reggie Sanders, a spokesman for the transportation department, said the agency will be sending out a new batch of parking passes to the areas that have gotten them in the past. He was uncertain when the new passes might be printed and sent, but said residents are free to use their old passes until then.

“What the legislation asks us to do, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Sanders said the agency has no plans “at the present time” to go back to the drawing board to refine the system — perhaps by incorporating a citywide system of paid coupon books, which was an option discussed at some length in a “parking summit” and series of community meetings sponsored by the agency.