- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

D.C. Council members yesterday said a proposal that would have increased fees for residential parking permits has been killed, citing press scrutiny.

“I’d say 99.9 percent of it is because of the coverage,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. “I’m stopping short of saying 100 [percent]. It takes that type of press coverage to really call attention to something. It certainly did for me.”

Council member Carol Schwartz said coverage by journalists drew extensive public testimony against the proposed fee increases.

“The media does make people aware of things they may not have been aware of,” the at-large Republican said.

The proposal — which was offered by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election — would have increased residential parking permit fees from a flat $15 to $25 for a first, $50 for a second and $100 a third permit.

It also would have limited households to no more than three parking permits.

The Washington Times first reported about the proposed permit increases in January.

The proposal had been tacked onto the Parking Amendment Act of 2006, which the council approved yesterday without a vote.

Mrs. Schwartz said she killed the permit changes before moving the bill out of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, which she heads.

“I didn’t even recommend them to the committee. I took them out,” she said. “The minute I saw it, I was against it. Even before the hearings I thought, ‘This isn’t good’ and then, of course, that was reinforced by the hearing. I just took it out, and nobody begged that it be put back in.”

Council member Phil Mendelson, an at-large Democrat, said newspaper reports may have led to the proposal’s elimination.

The parking bill approved yesterday would allow residents to reserve parking spaces for weddings and funerals.

It also would allow overnight parking within 25 feet of an intersection and in loading zones throughout most of the city. Parking within 45 feet of an intersection or in a loading zone currently is illegal in most places.

In addition, the bill calls for placing meters in nonmetered, disability-only parking spaces in business areas and allow disabled persons with out-of-state placards to park under the same guidelines as those with city-issued placards.

The council in 2002 exempted itself from most parking restrictions and fines during official business.

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