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Residential parking enforcement ramps up as some report problems obtaining annual permits

Residential Permit Parking enforcement is in full swing — but some residents say they’re still waiting for their renewed permits to arrive and are concerned they will be unfairly ticketed until then.

Enforcement began yesterday (Tuesday) in Residential Permit Parking zones: residential areas near commercial corridors where residents pay for permits to ensure they have a spot on their street.

Customers have to renew their permits annually, a process that typically begins in April. Otherwise, they risk getting ticketed when the county begins looking for the new fiscal year’s permit.

But some residents took to Nextdoor to say they were still waiting on their permits when enforcement began yesterday.

“[A]ll I got was a receipt. I don’t even have temporary parking passes and they ticket in my zone,” said one commenter.

Others reported trouble reaching county staff to track down their permit.

“I finally received my stickers after much difficulty, multiple emails, and several phone calls,” another Nextdoor user said. “What used to take minutes each year has taken me hours this year, the price has almost doubled over the past few years, and I’m penalized for having a driveway, which now makes me eligible for one less permit.”

For a handful of registrants, that was due to a delayed printing order, but for others, it’s par for the course, according to Peter Golkin, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.

“We tell residents to expect the process to take a month from application to shipping to receipt of permit materials,” he said. “Every year a number of orders are lost or damaged in the mail or are returned as undeliverable even though the address is correct on the envelope. Those orders have to be investigated and put back into a queue.”

The concerns arose despite the county delaying and extending the permit renewal period.

“The new software system for parking permits was not ready for the usual renewal season start of April 1,” Golkin said. “The software had to be fine-tuned and tested and was finally ready in May.”

The county delayed enforcement until September to account for late-summer travel.

For those without their permanent 2022-23 tags, the county is emailing 45-day, temporary passes to customers who report that their permit materials were lost or not delivered, as well as those who placed their orders after mid-August.

There are a few measures residents can take to avoid a ticket during this period.

“Most RPP residents have off-street parking available in addition to their temporary passes. We encourage those residents with off-street parking to use it if possible, and for all customers to use valid temporary passes while they wait for permit materials to arrive in the mail,” Golkin said.

Those who are worried their temporary passes will expire soon can email [email protected], call 703-228-3344 or visit the Treasurer’s Office in-person at county government headquarters in Courthouse for assistance, he said.

“If a resident is concerned that a temporary pass is about to expire before an order arrives, email [email protected] and the situation will be investigated and a new temporary pass issued if necessary,” he said.

This is the latest blip for the permit parking program. The county reported technical difficulties with its software last year, when a handful of residents with newly constructed homes risked getting ticketed because the system did not recognize their newly created addresses.

The county modified the program in February 2021, reducing available permits for households with driveways, raising fees for additional vehicles and visitor permits while lowering prices for low-income residents, and allowing some multi-family buildings to join the program.

An idea to institute paid, two-hour parking in RPP zones was nixed after pushback from residents and some members of the Planning Commission.

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