- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tow-truck operators and parking-ticket writers swarmed around cars parked along curbs in the neighborhoods around RFK Stadium last night, aggressively enforcing the city’s new baseball and soccer game parking policies.

Ten parking-enforcement officers and 10 tow-truck operators worked the area, ticketing and towing cars without permits and cars with expired registrations.

The plan was mostly successful. Traffic was light and parking on neighborhood streets was plentiful until game time.

“Their biggest complaint is we did not get to them in a timely fashion. Aside from that, I think they have been fairly positive,” said William Howland, director of the D.C. Department of Public Works.

Mr. Howland toured the neighborhoods around the stadium shortly after the gates opened, his cell phone in hand, calling supervisors to alert them to cars that did not have the proper sticker displayed in the windshield.

He said violators would receive a $30 ticket and what amounted to a “courtesy tow” to the Blue Plains impoundment facility in Southwest, which planned to stay open until midnight. For now, he said, car owners will be able to retrieve towed vehicles free of charge.

The enforcement area is bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue on the south, Lincoln Park at 13th Street on the west and Benning Road on the north. The area’s eastern border extends across the Anacostia River to the Anacostia Freeway.

Residents — who already pay for neighborhood parking permits — were exempted from the tow-away restriction if they obtained a special stadium parking permit at RFK. Permits can be picked up weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The Redskins played at RFK from 1961 to 1996, and residents were given months of notice to get the special permit.

Valerie Young, 51, has lived on 16th Street NE for five years. She said she doesn’t have a car, but she complained that the parking policy won’t allow her relatives to visit her during game times.

Mrs. Young asked neighbors if they had seen her nephew, whose car was parked in front of her house and did not have a permit.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “You need a permit to park in the neighborhood and now you need a permit to park near the stadium.”

Vincent Smalls, 45, stood on his front porch as a tow truck drove past his house.

“Just let them tow my car,” he said as the tow truck passed. Mr. Smalls did not have a permit on his car.

Mr. Howland dismissed the suggestion that the city was aggressively enforcing stadium parking restrictions to fill city coffers. “Most people who get a parking ticket get it by choice,” he said. When asked whether ticket writers and tow-truck operators had quotas to fill, he said, “Absolutely not.”

The parking plan will be in effect April through October, during Nationals games and D.C. United soccer games. Mr. Howland said enforcement will begin about 90 minutes before game time. He said the extra effort will cost about $350,000 per year.

Bill Rice, a spokesman for Dan Tangherlini, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, said traffic moved smoothly around the stadium last night and people seemed to heed city officials’ advice.

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday agreed to temporarily cover Metro’s costs for keeping the transit system open past midnight if games go late.

The commission agreed to cover the policy until a permanent agreement is executed by the Washington Nationals. In addition, the commission informed Metro that it will facilitate getting the permanent agreement signed.

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