Following the announcement that D.C. parking meters would increase to $2.30 per hour, several machines were found broken or vandalized. (Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman)

Several parking meters throughout Southwest D.C. were knocked from their pedestals with the money removed which seems to allegedly be a response to the D.C. Department of Transportation’s June 1 fee increase similar to the city’s meters in the 1990s.

While some residents voiced disdain over what they perceived as predatory increases in parking and speeding fees, others are concerned that the city is witnessing the beginning of public service-related acts of destruction – reminiscent of those in the 1990s that cost the city roughly $500,000 a month in lost revenue.

The June 1 change in metered parking fees across the city brought the cost to $2.30 an hour – up $.30 from $2 in high demand zones such as Adams Morgan, the National Mall, Georgetown Historic District, the U Street NW Corridor, and the Downtown Central Business District. The parking meters in areas with less demand were also increased from $.75 to $2.30.

The increase comes as more drivers take to the road in lieu of Metrorail closures and single-tracking, raising the ire of residents like Vincent Wright, who said with mainly one and two-hour parking limits, the meter system is too restrictive.

“The number of spaces has decreased due to new vendor and corporate licensing, so when you want to visit downtown D.C. and have night out, you are forced on a two-hour meter, to expect to have to move in the middle of dinner or a film, and spend upwards of $20 in parking fees – if you find a space,” Wright said.  “The cost is one thing, but the inconvenience is another.

Vandalism is no solution, but I can understand that level of frustration.”

In the mid-1990s, the District had more than 800 parking meters vandalized, their heads smashed off with baseball bats or sledgehammers, according to police reports. By March 1997, the total was 3,000 meters, out of the city’s 16,000 – which D.C. officials estimated caused the city to lose $500,000 a month in revenue.

DDOT said on its website that despite the $2.30 per hour rate, other major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia have meter rates that are at least $3 an hour or more.  The rate increase should bring more than $2 million into the city’s coffers, which is slated to help with Metro’s operating budget.

At press time, DDOT communications specialist Michelle Phipps-Evans said the office had not been made aware of the vandalism and would investigate the damaged machines.