Hill East Residents Seek Answers on Parking Enforcement

DPW Promises to Send Representatives to Community Meeting

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One of multiple photos sent by Campbell to DPW Director Shorter, which Campbell says shows a vehicle parked for longer than 2 hours in an RPP zone without a permit. Image: Courtesy F. Campbell

Residents of Hill East say that parking enforcement has always been an issue in their neighborhood, but it’s gotten worse in the last three months. Residents in possession of Residential Parking Permits (RPP), say that the permits do no good as there is no enforcement of the parking restrictions in their area.

An RPP allows a resident of a designated area to park without restriction in the area where the vehicle is registered. It is a purchased designation added to the vehicle registration. Parking for unpermitted vehicles is restricted to a maximum of two hours.

Lack of Enforcement

The Department of Public Works (DPW) enforces parking restrictions, ticketing and towing vehicles parked for more than two hours without RPP. But some residents say there is a lack of enforcement.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission ANC (6B) Denise Krepp (6B10) said parking enforcement has always been a problem in the area, which is near to Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium and sees a spike in parking when Events DC has something ongoing. But she says that it has gotten worse in the last three months.

“I’ve been in touch to ask them [DPW] to come out multiple times over the last four years, and no response,” she said. “It’s a joke. They tell us to ‘just call 311 if you need enforcement’.”

Krepp says that Events DC shares news of large events with DPW to allow them to prepare for large influxes of non-residential vehicles associated with festivals and concerts. “They know three to four months in advance,” she said.

Neighbors Report Abuse

ANC Commissioner Krepp said neighbors are being verbally threatened when they tell people without RPP that they cannot park on their streets, and she got an earful from the neighbors about the abuse they received from people wanting to park on their residential streets.

She said she had such an experience during the recent Broccoli City Festival at RFK Stadium. The April 28 concert sold 30,000 tickets, drawing many out of town guests. She said she had come home from seeing a friend to find parked cars blocking access to her alley. “They were parked, they were drinking beer, there were four or five guys,” she said, adding that they began to get belligerent. She eventually called police to deal with it.

“It was threatening,” she said. “I’m not going to let neighbors be threatened by this.”

Asked for comment, an Events DC spokesperson said:

“Events DC has a good working relationship with Commissioner Denise Krepp and other community leaders. We plan to continue to work with her to address community concerns as they arise and to mitigate negative impacts to our neighbors.”  

Krepp says that Events DC is making a great deal of money with large events, but some of the cost is born by those who live nearby.

“What’s the benefit to the neighborhood,” she asks of the large events, “besides verbal abuse.”

Unticketed

Hill East resident Francis Campbell agrees that enforcement is necessary. He says when he drove out of his parking spot one morning at 7:00 it was immediately occupied by a panel truck that he suspects belonged to a company doing work in the area. At 1 p.m., the vehicle was still there, unticketed. Parking limits are for two hours for those without residential permits.

Campbell has emailed with the Department of Public Works (DPW) which enforces parking about the issue. “Even with RPP, we have to call 311 to get enforcement,” he says. “We’re told on many occasions the only reason that [DPW] comes out is because we call.”

“If you can’t come out every two hours,” he said, “come every four hours.”

After three days of emails containing photographs of parking violations, he said enforcement finally came to his neighborhood one evening at 7 p.m.

A More Effective Response Moving Forward

Campbell, the former ANC Commissioner for 6B10, said when he was Commissioner he came to an agreement with Events DC. “They would request that DPW would increase enforcement efforts for the surrounding neighborhood for events of 10,000 people or more,” he said.

“They, like us, can only request enforcement in the area.”

A spokesperson for Events DC confirmed Campbell’s statement. “We notify DPW and other related District agencies of all upcoming events on the campus on a routine basis,” she said. “For those events that project larger attendance numbers, we perform additional outreach including our surrounding neighbors through various forms of communication including, but not limited to, monthly e-newsletters, direct email advisories and community meetings.”

The spokesperson said that while DPW was the agency responsible for enforcement, Events DC “know[s] this is a concern for the community. We will continue to coordinate with DPW for a more effective response moving forward.”

Questions for DPW

Campbell said charging Events DC with failure to ensure enforcement of parking regulations is unfair, as it is not the task of that agency. Instead, he said, it is DPW that needs to step up their enforcement.

“Why can’t we get the same kind of enforcement or similar to what exist in NOMA, Georgetown, Barracks Row, Eastern Market or other parts of the city where they seem to drop out of the sky one minute after the two hours are up or one minute after the meter expires?” Campbell asks.

In response to these inquiries, DPW Director Chris Shorter said that DPW deployment schedules are designed to ensure sufficient flexibility to enforce parking laws throughout the city.

“We have issued 1,246 citations and 120 ROSA [Registration of Out-of-State Automobiles] warnings starting from 01/01/2018 through present in the Hill East area,” he said.

“We do our best to balance our enforcement effort from neighborhood to neighborhood and we are working with Events DC to better support special events held in or around RFK.”

DPW to Attend Community Meeting?

Shorter promised to work with his team to assess manpower in the area, and to attend the next community meeting to discuss the issue.

Shorter was invited to the July 6 meeting of the ANC 6B Hill East Task Force but said he would be out of town for the July 4th holiday and a representative would be sent in his place.

Commissioner Krepp took the additional step of sending her list of questions from the community to the DPW Director so that the agency would have time to prepare for the meeting.

“They’re not going to show up and say, ‘I don’t know’,” said Krepp, noting that many such proxy representatives cite a lack of knowledge on the issues.

“[They’re] going to show up with answers.”

The head of the DPW parking enforcement division, Johnny Gaither, will be attending the community meeting in the absence of Director Shorter.

The Hill East Task Force meets 7 p.m. Friday July 6 at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1900 Independence Ave SE). A list of questions sent by Krepp to the DPW Director follows.

  • Please provide a day by day break down of the 1246 citations mentioned below.
  • Please provide the number of DPW inspectors assigned to Hilleast on a daily basis.
  • Please provide the number of DPW inspectors assigned to Hilleast on days when EventsDC is sponsoring events at the RFK campus. In addition, please let us know their hours.  How far in advance do they arrive, do they walk the neighborhood during the event, and when do they depart?
  • With regards to the 1246 citations, how many of them were paid? How many were contested?
  • When the city receives payment for the traffic citations, where does it go?  Does it go into a general fund or does it go to a specific program? If so, what it is?
  • Does DPW track on a year by year basis the number of traffic citations issued?  If so, who compiles this information and is it publicly accessible. If so, please bring copies to the meeting to share with residents.
  • What is the city’s policy of parking enforcement on Sundays?  Recently, residents were told that DPW does not enforce RPP on Sundays.  Is that true?  If so, who made the decision not to enforce the RPP on those days?  Was this decision formalized in writing? If so, please bring copies of this decision with you to the meeting to share with neighbors.
  • Several years ago, DPW agreed to provide extra parking enforcement inspectors for EventsDC sponsored events with greater than 10,000 attendees. Is that agreement still in place?
  • How many parking enforcement officials are employed by DC and where do they work? Please provide a breakdown of this information by ward.
  • How many requests from 311 has DPW received for assistance with parking enforcement this year?  Does DPW track these requests an on annual basis?  If so, is this information publicly available?  Please share the yearly stats at the meeting on July 6th. 

This story has been updated to reflect recently received information. When the story was originally published, DPW representation at the July 6th meeting was not confirmed. The agency has since confirmed that Johnny Gaither will attend.