- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

City transportation officials scrambled in the rain yesterday to erect "No Parking" and "2-Hour Parking" signs along the 1800 Block of K Street NW where motorists have been getting tickets for parking in the previously unmarked zone.
"It's a response to the newspaper story, of course," said one D.C. Department of Transportation official overseeing erection of the signs. "Our supervisors told us to get on it right away this morning to put some kind of signs up."
Yesterday The Washington Times published a news wire story about motorists who found tickets for $20 to $100 fines under their windshield wipers after parking on the K Street service road, where there were no meters or signs.
The "hurry-up job," which involved using a jackhammer to drill holes for a new signpost in the sidewalk, was undertaken without checking to make sure no gas or electrical lines were in the way, said an official, who asked not to be named.
"We're trying to take care of the situation so there won't be free parking here any longer."
He said that officials will check for gas lines when four new parking meters are installed soon on the access road.
For about four months, people have parked without problems in front of a newly constructed office building at 19th and K streets NW. When construction began, the service road and sidewalk were blocked, and the parking meters and signs were removed.
When the road reopened, the signs and meters did not reappear. But this week, parking-enforcement officers began issuing tickets for parking in a no-parking zone.
There were "a total of six tickets and all six will be [nullified]," D.C. Department of Public Works spokeswoman Mary Myers said yesterday. She added that new signs should have been put up when the construction was completed and the service road reopened.
Mrs. Myers said two of the six tickets were for $100 because cars had been left on the access road during rush hour.
Tiruneh Wossero, an employee at a nearby parking garage, said one day last week a parking-enforcement officer put tickets on the whole row of cars on the service road, "then two minutes later [the officer] took the tickets away because he saw no signs or meters."
The Times reported earlier this year that the city planned to increase the number of parking-enforcement officers from 79 to 257 by October. The additional officers, The Times projected, would increase the city's parking ticket revenue from $48 million a year to about $97 million.
Ashley Widger, who works in the new building at 19th and K, said if people were expected to pay the fines issued in unmarked zones it would be "ridiculous" and a "lack of judgment and laziness on the part of the District."
This is not the first time the city has dealt with complaints about tickets being doled out where there are no signs. The Times reported in December that motorists on New Jersey Avenue in Southeast between E and I streets received $50 tickets even though there was no sign.
One resident said when she contested the ticket, a Department of Motor Vehicles adjudication officer told her the District is not responsible for letting people know where they can and cannot park.
On Thursday, Mrs. Myers, responding to an inquiry about the most recent situation in the downtown business district, said based on the rationale that there are too many signs in the District, the city has the right to issue tickets in areas where there are no signs.
She clarified that yesterday, saying: "There are a number of parking infractions on the books that do not require a 'no parking' sign."
The infractions include parking less than 40 feet from an intersection, less than 5 feet from a driveway entrance, blocking a crosswalk and parking within 20 feet of a fire station entrance.
As for an explanation why it's taken so long to put up new signs and meters in the 1800 Block of K Street, DOT spokesman Bill Rice said: "We're still investigating who's responsible here."
DOT officials work with developers and construction companies, who are issued permits to occupy public space and remove signs from city streets, Mr. Rice said.
"It's pretty clear that once the construction is done and the road has been reopened the signs should have been put back up," he said. "As soon as we found out the signs were not there we have been working to replace them."

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