- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2000

The District of Columbia Council yesterday enacted emergency legislation that would allow city residents to park closer to stop signs, intersections and crosswalks overnight.

Under the new change, Metropolitan Police Department officers and ticket writers would be more lenient about issuing tickets to bona fide residents.

"We are relaxing the parking enforcement for minor violations," said Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairman of the committee on public works.

"There were many areas that were excluded. It got to be a little discriminatory," Mrs. Schwartz said. "I just figured it would make it a heck of a lot easier."

Mayor Anthony A. Williams still must sign the bill.

Neighborhood residents will be allowed to park 25 feet from intersections and stop signs instead of 40 feet; in front of building entrances, except for hospitals; and in loading zones, except for hotels.

Overnight parking hours for residents will be from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. under the legislation, which lasts for 90 days.

Mr. Williams' administration, the Department of Public Works and the council's Public Works Committee must inform police and ticket writers of the changes.

The new law expands a rule change, made after the DPW heard public comments in August, which eased parking restrictions for residents in selected neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and Glover Park.

Legal parking lots in Adams Morgan are few and far between, stop-and-go traffic on 18th and U streets NW at sunset is dense, cabs drive around looking for fares and gridlock lasts long after rush hour ends. Residents and suburbanites drive around and around the same crowded streets, jockeying for a spot. Some give up and park illegally, then are ticketed for parking violations.

Last year, DPW began the Neighborhood Action Parking Plan, which created parking task forces in the 10 most-congested neighborhoods in the city, including Adams Morgan. The goal is to maximize the number of parking spots in each area.

The parking task force counted the number of spots in the area and looked into possible parking lots, mass-transit options and the traffic patterns.

The council enacted legislation for the rule change six years ago, but DPW just finished the public-comment period and implementation rules this summer.

"Parking is just an incredible issue … . Anything we can do is a welcome, welcome relief," said Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat.

DPW also will consult with police to ensure that the increased parking will not create safety and traffic-flow problems.

"The whole reason for this is to allow people to park convenient to their homes," Mrs. Schwartz said. "There are safety issues as well."

Mrs. Schwartz also introduced a bill that would give homeowners with garages a $20,000 break on their tax assessments if they park their cars in the garage. The tax break could amount to about $200 per year, Mrs. Schwartz said.

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