- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

D.C. police are cracking down hard on illegally parked cars in the city, even in places where there are no signs prohibiting parking.
Furious car owners who contest the $50 tickets say traffic officials merely tell them, "Tough luck."
Says a much-ticketed Adams Morgan resident: "Our roads are crap, the police seem unable to solve many crimes, but I guess that parking tickets account for such a huge source of revenue that they put their best people on it."
The Washington Times reported earlier this year that the city planned to increase the number of parking-enforcement officers from 79 to 257 by October 2002. The additional officers, The Times projected, would increase the city's parking ticket revenue from $48 million a year to about $97 million.
The crackdown is widespread.
Erica Rossi had been parking on New Jersey Avenue on the bridge between E and I streets in Southeast for years. There is no sign indicating that she could not park there, and with the area always jammed with cars, she figured it was legal. One day she walked outside and saw a $50 ticket on her car. Irritated, she took photos of the
area without a sign and took time off from work to go and contest the citation.
But Miss Rossi said the Department of Motor Vehicles adjudication officer told her that the District is not responsible for letting people know where they can and cannot park.
According to regulations in the D.C. Code, signs are not required for a variety of parking violations.
These violations include parking within an intersection; on a crosswalk; alongside or opposite any street excavation; on a bridge, viaduct or other elevated structure; within five feet of an alleyway, public or private driveway; within 10 feet of a fire hydrant; and within 25 feet on the approach side of any stop or yield sign.
Virginia resident Julia Krauss said she parked a friend's car on Fourth Street in Southeast during legal hours directly under a posted sign saying it was legal. She still got a ticket.
"I came out and thought, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Miss Krauss said.
She said she volunteered to contest it, but her friend decided it was just easier to pay it.
Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, said the District's position is that it's the responsibility of the individual driver to know and learn the city's parking rules, even if some streets lack signs.
"If each one of these incidents required a sign, it would be more confusing than you can imagine," she said.
Other crackdown victims argue that while most people remember the "No parking near a fire hydrant" regulation, other rules such as parking distance from a corner are more obscure. If the city is going to enforce obscure rules, give us signs, they say.
Anna Black, an advisory neighborhood commissioner from Ward 6B, said one resident recently stopped her on the street to complain about the surge in parking citations.
The resident was upset about a ticket she got after a no-parking zone was expanded improperly, according to Miss Black in the 200 block of 11th Street in Southeast.
The sign, she said, was inexplicably moved farther into the block than the law allows.
She said residents in her neighborhood tell her they feel that out-of-state cars are ignored, while D.C. residents are targeted.
"I think they very readily give the tickets to the taxpayers of D.C.," Miss Black said. "There are always cars in the alleys with every plate imaginable, but the two times I have had to park outside this sign, which is incorrect, I have gotten the $50 tickets."
Caroline Alexander and her roommate had been parking on 16th Street off Dupont Circle for months without getting ticketed. Now, they too, are getting citations.
"One day, it's OK to park there, and the next day, it's not," Miss Alexander said, noting that she and her roommate have received nearly $200 in parking tickets because of the confusion.
The 1600 block of 16th Street in Northwest is the best example of this confusion, Miss Alexander said. There are two signs in front of the Church of the Holy City.
One says "No Parking or Standing" from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. because of rush hour, and it has arrows pointing in both directions.
The other sign, which was added in the last few months, says "No Parking Entrance," again with arrows pointing in both directions.
Before the new sign was added, two cars could fit in the spot, and many drivers parked there routinely, she said. The new signs, however, add confusion.
"Parking is already tight, and now they go and take more spots and not tell us," she said. "It's very frustrating."
Miss Myers said residents need to take notice of the difference between "No Parking" and "No Standing."
"No Parking" means that a car can idle while dropping someone or something off, but cannot stay for an extended period of time.
"No Standing" means that a car is not permitted to stop there for any purpose at any time.
And contrary to what residents are reporting to The Times, the District, according to Miss Myers, has not eliminated any parking spots recently.

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