- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

District officials met last night with residents around RFK Stadium to discuss several proposed changes to street parking, which has been disrupted this year by 81 Washington Nationals home baseball games.

The biggest proposed change was to mail residents in the restricted zone two visitor passes and a no-cost parking permit for each registered vehicle, instead of having them go to the stadium to pick up the material.

Residents began complaining before the Nationals’ April 14 home opener that they had just days to go to RFK to get the special permit and that the stadium office was open only on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., when most people are working.

“We’re going to work on this thing like a pitching coach with a pitcher until we get it right,” Dan Tangherlini, director of the city’s Department of Transportation, told about 100 people who attended the meeting last night at the Holy Comforter Church, at 14th and East Capitol streets SE.

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

Enforcement begins 90 minutes before game time, and the plan is scheduled to be in effect through October. Vehicles parking in the area without the special permits are issued a $30 ticket and some are towed to the city’s Blue Plains impoundment facility in Southwest.

Official gave those present at the meeting several other options, including a two-hour parking grace period, then divided them into groups to discuss their concerns and ideas.

A tentative plan is expected to be announced tomorrow, followed by a final plan in 10 days, officials said.

“We keep thinking we have the right solution, but I’m not sure we’re there,” said D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat. “We have a commitment of taking everything discussed here tonight, then put something into place by Friday.”

The visitor passes would be free and fully transferable. Officials are also considering giving special permits to such organizations as churches and community centers.

“Our church vehicles are getting tickets galore,” said Bonita Harrison of Faith United Ministries in Northeast as she pulled several tickets from her purse. “Why should parishioners suffer? It’s actually deterring membership because no one wants to get a $30 ticket when they come to worship on Sunday.”

Bill Howland, director of the city’s Department of Public Works, said the District has so far issued 2,500 tickets and towed 200 vehicles.

“We acknowledge we’ve made some errors,” said Mr. Howland. He also said incorrect tickets would be voided.

Mr. Tangherlini said one person has already been arrested for counterfeiting the parking permits.

In June 2002, council members voted to exempt themselves from most parking regulations. The measure came after a year in which traffic-enforcement officers cracked down on illegally parked council members’ cars.

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