- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

The District, which collected about $48 million in parking-ticket fines last year, is looking to nearly triple the number of its parking-meter monitors in the coming year.
City officials said the increase in staffing is mostly needed to enforce a new law that limits handicapped parking in designated neighborhoods to two hours, not to increase city revenues.
Increased parking enforcement "really does free up parking spaces for all," said Mary Myers, public information officer for the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW), which oversees the city's parking spaces with the Metropolitan Police Department.
But more revenue is a likely outcome, officials said, adding they expect to add at least $2.5 million a year in parking-meter fees to city coffers.
Last fiscal year, DPW's 79 monitors oversaw the city's 15,270 parking meters, whose fees garnered $12.5 million for the District. Those monitors, who also oversaw restricted residential parking spaces among 3,500 city blocks, wrote about 1.5 million tickets last year — about 19,000 tickets per monitor.
That staff has since grown to 98 parking monitors. Others in training are expected to be added within a month, bringing the total to 119 monitors.
By the end of the next fiscal year — Sept. 30, 2002 — 257 parking monitors are expected to be on the job, said Miss Myers, adding that revenue from parking-meter fees is expected to increase to $15 million.
City officials declined to estimate how much revenue in parking fines would be generated by the larger monitoring force.
The fine for a parking-meter violation is $20; fines for violating restricted residential parking limits are $20 or $25. If the 257 parking monitors each write just 10,000 tickets a year, the city will issue nearly 2.6 million tickets and collect at least $51 million in fines. If they each write 19,000 tickets, the city will issue about 4.9 million tickets and collect at least $97 million.
A public works committee surveyed parking-meter systems and parking enforcement in other municipalities before determining the need for 257 officers, Miss Myers said.
Officials with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) of Dallas, which operates the District's electronic parking meters, said increased enforcement could mean as much as $500,000 in additional parking revenue this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The new handicapped-parking restriction took effect Aug. 20.
Previously, vehicles with hanging placards or license plates bearing the handicap symbol had been able to park for free for an unlimited period of time in any legal street space.
The law was enacted after the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District did a survey that showed vehicles with handicapped license plates accounted for 40 percent of the curbside parking during weekdays, said Seamus Houston, director of marketing and communications.
"On certain key streets, the survey showed as high as 60 percent were designated as handicapped," said Mr. Houston, reading from the March 1999 survey.
"It is very frustrating for people living," in those areas, Miss Myers said.
Drivers now must take documentation about their handicaps to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a placard to display, allowing them to park free. D.C. handicapped drivers may obtain handicapped license plates or placards, but not both.
Drivers who get two or more parking tickets without paying the fines within 30 days are eligible for "boots," devices placed over a wheel that prevent their cars from being driven.


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