- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

Logan Circle residents are fuming over D.C. officials’ decision to postpone implementing a church-parking plan that residents had spent months negotiating.

A new parking plan in the neighborhood that adds about 150 new spaces by narrowing roads depends on enforcement of double-parking restrictions during church services in Logan Circle.

Without that enforcement, streets will become virtual parking lots, residents say.

“We already did this in Logan Circle,” said Christopher Dyer, a commissioner with ANC 2F. “I just spent six months of my time in meetings with churches and city government officials, and we came up with a solution that seems to work. In Logan Circle, we solved the problem, and without the enforcement going on, people are not going to have any incentive at all to not double-park there.”

Late last year, a group of residents in Logan Circle petitioned the District to begin enforcing double-parking laws. The group’s actions prompted neighborhood officials to form a task force to study the problem and develop solutions.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) responded to the group’s recommendations by adding 77 new permanent and 78 Sundays-only parking spaces in the area. DDOT also promised double-parking enforcement.

The new spaces were added by converting parallel parking to angled parking and allowing parking adjacent to the median along Vermont Avenue near 12th street Northwest.

The plan also includes allowing parking adjacent to the median along portions of Rhode Island Avenue on Sundays only. It also converted Vermont Avenue between 12th and Q streets Northwest to a one-way southbound.

The parking plan was implemented last week. DDOT officials said they will finish painting parking space lines this week.

Before the changes, double-parking blocked in neighborhood residents who parked outside their homes. Because of the added spaces, double-parking along those streets now will block car lanes and prohibit vehicles from passing.

Todd D. Lovinger, a Logan Circle resident and attorney who helped organize the effort against the churches, said that cars were parked Sunday illegally near Vermont Avenue Baptist Church and Metropolitan Baptist Church. He said no police officers were seen ticketing those cars.

City officials said last week they would begin enforcing laws against double-parking in two phases — first in Logan Circle on May 21 and citywide on July 1.

Now, they plan to delay enforcement until at least late August while a task force examines possible solutions throughout the city, a step Logan Circle residents already had taken.

“We already had a task force,” said Chris Franks, a Logan Circle resident. “For them to waste time and money to revisit something that’s already been studied is disgraceful, when they can spend money on other programs. It’s unbelievable.”

Double-parking is illegal in the District, but churchgoers have been ignoring the law on Sundays for at least 30 years. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is responsible for parking patrols on the weekends, has not been issuing tickets to violators.

Double-parking carries a $50 fine.

Church officials welcomed D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ decision to delay enforcement in the area.

“There may be further enhancements that can be done,” in Logan Circle, said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, who mediated the original Logan Circle task force for the churches. “There may be certain values of what can the government do more to facilitate more public transit options, there may be additional steps that the government can take.”

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, said that the new task force will include residents, clergy members and city officials.

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for the mayor, said Mr. Williams delayed the Logan Circle enforcement because he wants to tackle the issue from a citywide perspective.

“It’s probably a better approach to develop something citywide instead of just going forth with just one neighborhood,” he said.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, whose district includes Logan Circle, said the mayor’s plan to delay enforcement is acceptable.

“I think the mayor has done the right thing to put together a task force to see if they can try to work this thing out,” he said.

The Council voted in July 2002 to exempt itself from its own parking regulations, when on official business, generously defined.

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairman of the committee that oversees parking in the city, said that she hopes to resolve the church parking issue quickly.

“I’m hoping that it’s a short-term task force,” she said. “I hope it will be a short-term one and that they will meet often and quickly with a sense of urgency in order to rectify a problem that’s universal across the city.”

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