Thursday, November 17, 2011

City Installs OLD NW Coin Meters On Anacostia Main Street

Our "new" meters. Can you see the crazy?
Makes no dollars or sense
This post has been updated. See end of post.

The signs have been there for weeks - slate gray metal poles cropping up on both sides of Martin Luther King Jr, Ave in Anacostia's Business District.

Understandably, the idea of parking meters coming to a community that had free parking is being met with some resistance. In part, the outrage stems from the lack of community input or notice that the parking meters were even coming. The parking stems just appeared one day, and according to a long-time Anacostia street vendor, Council Member Barry was even in the dark about their arrival.

Today, the Parking Operations crew was back and this time they brought the "heads" for the "new" parking meters and boy are they anything but.

Anacostia, meet your "new" parking meters!  Old coin operated parking meters from Northwest (peep the meter ID numbers). The days of free parking are over. You will now be required to pay for parking Monday thru Saturday.

Your "new" parking meters come equipped with battle scars, dents, dings, missing paint, and slots for you to deposit your coins. The "new" stickers don't even make sense. Paid parking is Monday - Friday but is enforced on Saturdays.

I'm doing something that I always said I would try not to do, blog while mad but I can't help it. This tomfoolery has to stop. To be clear, I am not mad because of the appearance of the parking meters themselves (although I find the idea of parking meters in Anacostia now ill-timed and ill-informed).

I am HEATED because I am tired of constantly having to highlight cases like this where Ward 8 and East of the River is constantly getting the short (and old) end of the stick. Why is it okay for nice new (and modern) things to go west of the river but those of us East of the River have to settle for cast-offs, hand-me-downs and lower class service (if service at all)? Let me rephrase that, I am not just mad, I am disappointed and sad.

My taxes (and parking meter fees) paid for those shiny new meters on Barracks Row, U Street, and Adams Morgan. Why do I have to come home to Mickey Mouse stuff just because my zip code is 20020 or 20032?

A work in progress.

I just don't understand it! Who makes these decisions? Who says, "well just send those old meters we took out of the Golden Triangle and install them in Anacostia?"

I can't even articulate what that does to a community's morale. It's hurtful, it's insulting, and it's infuriating. I am so mad right now I can barely type (please excuse the typos) because this is the type of stuff that we are fighting on a regular basis. Forget trying to get improved services, we are just trying to get the standard level of things that the rest of the city enjoys -  like cupcakes and parking meters. I am constantly having to argue/shame my way into getting things in Ward 8 and I am not the only one.

While the city contractor was installing the "new" heads for our "new" parking meters  several people on the street asked him if these "new" meters would be able to take credit cards? His response? "No." I then asked him why we didn't get the new multi-space machines because frankly these stick meters are hideous, especially in a historic district like Anacostia. His response, "We [Anacostia] have to first raise the $20,000 to pay for that expensive machine."

Really? I guess I better get started on my Parking Meter Telethon right away.

Maybe the contractor who installed the "new" parking meters was wrong. Maybe we will get those add-on credit card readers that go over the old parking meters, but I have to ask the question, "Why didn't we just get the new meters that already had that capability?! Why not a multi-space meter? Why did we have to get the old meters period? Is the Anacostia business district less than other DC business districts?"

Someone on Twitter told me that perhaps I was making a big deal out of nothing, perhaps we will get the ParkMobile service because that program is supposed to be for the whole city. I have no idea if the ParkMobile program will be extended to Anacostia and at this point I am not even really optimistic.  BTW to even use ParkMobile you have to have a cell phone or a smart phone.

When it comes to city services and amneties there seems to be "the city" and then there is "East of the River" and those two don't always mean the same thing.  I haven't seen a single sign or indicator that ParkMobile is going to be activated for Anacostia going to happen and if so I am almost afraid to see what they will look like. I hope we do at least get ParkMobile because if not, I guess I better start stocking up on my rolls of quarters.

If this is the "new" Ward 8 I kind of prefer the old one. At least then the parking was free. 

P.S. DC really needs to inform their contractors to be polite. I very nicely asked one of the gentleman doing the install a question and he wouldn't even turn around to acknowledge me. I guess he got the memo, we don't really matter here in Anacostia.

Update 11/18: According to @DDOTDC they will be coming out today to fix the meters because either the signage is wrong or the heads were installed improperly. Currently the posted meter rates are 25 cents per every 7 1/2 minutes. The correct rate is 75cents per hour.

"If I don't turn around maybe she will just go away."

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AC said...

After reading this post I was instantly taken back to Boyz N Da Hood -- Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood (Ward 8).

This is truly how I feel....

Unbelievable said...

I really hope you get some sort of response from DDOT on the decisionmaking process here. This really is sad and frustrating.

I'm so glad you take the time to notice these things and ask these questions.

The Advoc8te said...

I have said it once and I will say it again. The Mayor should create an office (or at least a position) just to address things East of the River, to at least make sure that EotR is getting their fair share and to advise DC agencies on our community.

I still don't understand the logic of putting parking meters on a mainstreet still very heavy with social services programs and nonprofits. Who is supposed to be paying these parking fees and what is the point of parking fees on a Saturday? There are only 3 businesses (at best) open on that end of the street on a Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Really starting to think that everyone in DC government is crazy.

It makes 0 sense require paid parking in Anacostia on a weekend -- no one is on main street on the weekend!

And who is supposed to pay for parking during the week? The welfare mothers going to the TANF building for assistance? The folks trying to get their lights turned back on a the Office of Environment? Or is it the little old ladies going to the Social Security building?

DC really has no clue about what happens in Ward 8 and these hand me down meters show they don't even care to know.

GF said...

First I think the District government has reached a new low. There are so many things wrong about this picture but one that really jumps out at me is how old and nasty these meter look....really DDOT REALLY MR. MAYOR......I am ashamed of everyone involved with this process….is this what you call one city, is this what you think of Historic Anacostia? If the city treats us like this how can we expect others to treat us any differently? DDOT Director and Mr. Mayor you should discipline everyone who sent this mess to our community. These meters look worse than litter it is government trash littering the streets in Historic Anacostia. I don’t think I have ever seen such blatant disregard of a community.

The other question around this situation is what responsibility does DDOT/District Government have in letting the community know that parking meters will be installed in a community? Is this how the government informs the community of changes? Does the government usually show up without informing community leaders? Or is this what they do to Anacostia? I am the Commissioner in Historic Anacostia and I didn’t receive any correspondence about parking meters. I would like to know DDOT's procedures on this matter. This needs to be rectified immediately. I am officially ashamed of DDOT and current Administration

Greta Fuller
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A(03)

Ms. V said...

My 2 cents. I'm not opposed to parking meters during the week during business hours. There are days were it is very hard to find parking. People visiting my business have had to park in the neighborhood. HOWEVER, I'm extremely disappointed we don't have the pay booths like on 8th Street SE (Barracks Row) where people can pay by change or credit card. I thought DDOT was phasing out meters.

Ms. V said...

Pardon my typos... trying to tweet and comment on blog at same time.

Ronnie said...

Definitely BAD move to put old, ugly, used meters EotR. Just bad.

maxine davis said...

we should not have to pay 4 meters until services reach the masses

John M said...

The Mayor does have "Ward 8" or east of the river designated officials. You only see them at community meetings curled up in the corner talking to not a soul looking too timid to even speak. These Ward 8 liaisons get paid big money to take up space. "Professional Movers" as Rev. OJ so poignantly calls them. Also, BTW -- DDOT fumbled between 200k and 95k to do work on the neglected and forgotten boundary stones.

Anonymous said...

I guess all those people who pay for parking in NW subsidized your free parking for so many years and now offered to give you the old meters. Why are you complaining?

Anonymous said...

It was a no win situation for the DC government. If they installed new credit card machines they would have been accused of restricting parking to those rich yuppy gentrifiers with credit cards. If they install older coin machines they are accused of disrespecting the neighborhood.

These are the same citizens who claim that merely presenting a valid government ID to vote would be discriminatory. But now, requiring a valid credit card to park on a public street in a depressed ward is ok.

We've seen the enemy, and it is us….

The Advoc8te said...

"It was a no win situation for the DC government. If they installed new credit card machines they would have been accused of restricting parking to those rich yuppy gentrifiers with credit cards. If they install older coin machines they are accused of disrespecting the neighborhood. "

The new (and I mean really new) meters have the ability to accept coin AND credit/debit cards. These old school parking meter rejects take only one form of currency - coin.

We are asking for what the rest of the city has - options and good options at that.

What you may take for granted we have to fight for.

Brian said...

As long as we can use the Parkmobile service, I am fine with it. I also don't see a problem with using older meters when it is first introduced to our neighborhood. The newer ones are in high traffic areas. Why waste our tax dollars on new ones when we have these to use? Now can we talk about enforcement around Anacostia metro from all the cars and shuttles blocking the road and creating a traffic nightmare? There is a reason they installed a "Kiss and Ride" by the parking garage...

Rick D said...

Everything about this decision is terrible -- lack of communication with the neighborhood, the hand-me-downs, and the complete disregard for local needs.

To top it off, don't think any of that meter money is coming back EoR either -- that money will go into the general fund for whatever self-enriching project comes next.

H Street Landlord said...

A couple of thoughts: poor people will likely be taking transit to the business district so this won't effect them. We should be supporting better public transit anyways which this does.

Why does Anacostia deserve free parking when none of the other areas have it?

75 cents an hour is a deal.

And not trying to be insensitive, and I agree there should be better infrastructure EOTR, but you do pay less in taxes. Significantly less.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to agree with the minority of commenters here. You ARE being treated equally by getting these older meters. Everyone in other neighborhoods had to pay for parking using these very same meters, for decades in some areas, before the meters generated enough revenue to make it worthwhile to replace them with multispace meters. And not all neighborhoods even have those. Every time I have a meeting anywhere in Judiciary Square just east of Chinatown (a neighborhood full of rich white condo owners who paid $500k+ for their one-bedroom units) I still have to bring a fistful of quarters.

Equality doesn't mean treating everyone (or every neighborhood) exactly the same. It means providing everyone (and every neighborhood) with what's needed and what's reasonable. If you wanted to be treated exactly the same, you would have been fine with the 7.5 minutes for a quarter rate everyone else pays downtown. And at that rate (3x what you're paying at 20 mins per quarter), multispace meters are profitable. At that rate, other neighborhoods are paying for those flashy new meters.

Contributing 33% of the revenue while wanting the same product isn't reasonable - it's the same as saying "those people drive a $60k Mercedes so I should be able to get one too but I should only have to pay $20k for the exact same car!" The local Benz dealership doesn't work that way. You're shocked DDOT doesn't either?

Anonymous said...

@H Street Landlord. You say "75 cents an hour is a deal," like its a special Anacostia-only deal offered nowhere else, as if that excuses the hoopdy old parking meters on MLK Avenue on Anacostia's Main Street. You know who else pays 75 cents an hour? Visitors to Barracks Row who park under the overpass. But no hoopdy old parking meters on 8th Street SE.

Parker said...

look there are many neighborhoods in DC, including upper NW, that still have coin only operated meters for much higher rates than 75cents/hr. For example there are several streets in Tenley Town that have coin only operated meters with rates of 7.5 minutes for 25 cents-thats $8/hr -in change. The outrage here looks very petty.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 2:53pm - That one lot on Barracks Row is cheaper because it's only within the last year or so been public parking, so to encourage use while people discover it exists, it costs less. Before that it was leased to the Marine Barracks there. Everywhere else on Barracks Row (including the three dozen "hoopdy" old parking meters on 8th Street right next to said lot under the freeway) it's 2 bucks an hour.

Also $2/hr all over Judiciary Square (at "hoopdy" old parking meters), in Shaw next to the Convention Center on 7th and 9th (also at "hoopdy" old parking meters), and many parts of Dupont, Foggy Bottom, some parts of the Mall, near the National Cathedral (all still have some "hoopdy" old parking meters), and even the side streets off Pennsylvania Avenue next to the House Office Buildings (I paid a "hoopdy" old parking meter there yesterday to go to a store). So yeah, it kinda does explain the 75 cents an hour deal EotR is getting here.

@ComishANC8E01 said...

Terry Bellamy, Director of d. says they will be removing the meters today (link below). A big HUGE thank you to The Advoc8te for jumping on this. I truly believe that in this networked society, the powers that be would have left this issue alone if there was not such a huge Twitter and on-line blow up about it. The way this emerged shows that we are watching, and people are listening to what's happening. If it weren't for your reporting, I don't believe any of the papers would have picked up on the story. This is the way to get things done! I firmly believe that people will treat you the way you train them to treat you and by addressing this head on, d. is learning that we are watching and can't be treated any kind of way.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 3:34 pm...."That one lot on Barracks Row" is 75 cents an hour, but does it have hoopdy old discarded meters to collect that fee? Nope, it has one of the fancy new solar-powered, credit-card/dollar bill/coin accepting, parking slip-emitting modern parking enforcement device. Just sayin'

There were no meters on MLK, then there were meters (very briefly, thanks to this blog) and the "new" meters installed were hoopdy.

There were no meters under the underpass on 8th St/Barracks Row, as you correctly state, now there are meters, and the "new" meter installed is space age.

AC said...

Dear H Street Landlord,

While we do not know each other personally...we both pay taxes. End of story/point blank period.

How about you visit East of the River to get a feel for the neighborhood and it's residents before you start to slander the integrity of it.

It wasn't but a few years ago, the now beloved, H Street Corridor received the same...."I won't go over there after dark" treatment.

Some of your clientele may in fact come from communities East of the River to support your business because it is a DC based entity.

Money doesn't discriminate but clearly you do. Sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

correction: $2/hr not 8. Maybe d. will get the funding, as Bellamy says their "looking for it" to install the high-tech meters on MLK for 75cents/hr from all the other coin op $2/hr meters in other neighborhoods...

H Street Landlord said...


I've been going all over EOTR since 2006 when I moved to DC. I've literally been through all the nice areas, the adequate areas and all the public housing complexes. I'm actually buying some property EOTR in the next year or so. I think the area is nearly great as is and has a lot of potential.

I didn't slander anything - it is a mathematical fact other areas of the city contribute significantly more to the tax base than EOTR. No value judgments there. Significant city dollars have been invested in beautiful new schools EOTR and other amenities. It's a shame that Fenty steered more dollars EOTR than any other area and then lost a majority of the African American vote. But that's another story.

One thing hard for me to understand is that no one wants to pay more in taxes (myself included) but then the city engages in a cost saving measure and gets attacked. Of course if we cut some of the navigator-esque fat we could have nice new parking meters without new taxes. But that's another new story, again. Best,

msubear77 said...

Why is there meter parking in Anacostia anyway?

Anonymous said...

Why be upset? As the saying goes, beggars can't be choosy. You should be thankful we're sending you meters. PERIOD. It's bad enough we have to pay for all your unwed mothers and folks subsiding on hand outs. Go get a job and quit complaining that you didn't get something as nice as the people who paid for it all got.