- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

The District issued $57 million worth of parking tickets last year up sharply from the $45 million in tickets issued in 2001 and the amount is expected to rise again this year as fines increase and more ticket-writers roam the city's streets.
There were 1.67 million parking tickets written last year, up from 1.3 million in 2001, according to statistics provided by the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW).
The vast majority of the 27 percent increase comes from an uptick in tickets written by DPW parking officers, though parking tickets are also written by Metropolitan Police Department officers, U.S. Park Police officers and a number of other law-enforcement agencies in the city. DPW ticket-writers alone wrote 1.2 million parking tickets in 2002, up from 932,000 in 2001.
DPW spokeswoman Mary Myers said the increase is largely due to more parking officers.
Miss Myers said that at one point in 2001 there were 70 DPW ticket-writers on the streets. Now there are 168, and the number is still rising.
The D.C. Council passed legislation last year increasing the DPW's authorized strength of parking enforcement officers to 247 to patrol the city's 15,270 parking meters and 3,500 blocks of unmetered but restricted parking spaces.
Miss Myers said the work force continues to grow toward the department's new authorized strength.
And ticket revenue should increase as well.
Fines will increase from their current $20 to $30 for parking in an alley, disobeying an official sign, parking in a no-parking zone and parking for more than two hours in a residential parking area without a permit. An expired-meter ticket will increase from the current $15 to $25, and a commercial bus or sightseeing vehicle parked in front of a residence or in another illegal space will jump from the current $20 to $500.
The increased fines were proposed March 18, but the D.C. Council never voted on them. They were deemed approved on July 13 when they were folded into a budget-support act the council passed before it went into summer recess. Congress approved the city's $5.3 billion budget this month.
Miss Myers said they will go into effect "in the next couple of months" but not before a "public education campaign."
The budget support act approved in July estimated that the increased fines "will conservatively" generate an extra $8.5 million in revenue.
Miss Myers insisted the increase in ticket writing was not a money-making venture, saying that although the number of tickets written is on the rise, the total has actually declined since an all-time high of 2.3 million in 1997.
"When people say you're giving more tickets than ever before, it's just not true," Miss Myers said. She said things like the weather or the number of construction projects going on in the city can vastly alter the number of tickets written.
She also said parking officers are not urged to meet a quota for tickets written.
But residents have complained of aggressive ticketing tactics, including getting ticketed on streets that don't have signs posted to restrict parking. And The Washington Times reported Friday that residents of the Cleveland Park neighborhood in Northwest were angry because of aggressive enforcement of a seldom-used law dictating the manner in which cars are parked on hilly streets.


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