- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 7, 2006

A D.C. task force promised by Mayor Anthony A. Williams to examine the problem of illegal double-parking on Sundays remains incomplete while churchgoers and inconvenienced residents wonder whether help will ever come.

“The general consensus is that it’s just a delay tactic and that they have no intention of forming a task force,” said Todd Lovinger, a Logan Circle community activist. “Whether they form one or not, they clearly have no intention of including the residents or getting input or perspective.”

Mr. Lovinger said he has not been asked to join the task force and does not know of any residents who have.

“I contacted every council member in office requesting a meeting on the issue, and not one has responded, even with a courtesy response just saying they are too busy — nothing,” he said. “We have no intention of letting this issue go.”

The task force is aimed at finding a solution over the next four months to parking problems near D.C. churches. Churchgoers coming into the city for Sunday services often park on median strips or double-park on streets, which blocks vehicles owned by residents. The task force plan was announced late last month.

“We’re still contacting people; it takes some time to get a hold of them,” said Vincent Morris, a spokesman for the mayor. “I don’t think the task force has met yet or has been formed just yet.”

Christopher Dyer, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F, said the city needs to move forward with the task force to respond quickly to community needs.

“I think it’s important that they form this task force,” he said. “I take it at face value that they’re going to do it, but it would be interesting to see if they don’t. I would hope that they take into account the thousands and thousands of residents who have expressed an opinion that there needs to be equitable enforcement of parking laws.”

Double-parking is illegal in the District, but churchgoers have ignored the law on Sundays for at least 30 years. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is responsible for parking patrols on the weekends, has not been issuing tickets to violators. Double-parking carries a $50 fine.

Enforcement of the parking law was set to begin May 21 in Logan Circle, where a group of residents and ANC 2F formed their own task force to address the problem.

The group developed a strategy that added more than 140 parking spaces to the Northwest neighborhood and arranged with the D.C. Department of Public Works to begin enforcement there on Sundays.

The law was to be enforced citywide starting July 1, after a brief warning period to give churches time to make other — legal — parking arrangements for parishioners.

But Mr. Williams, a Democrat, late last month delayed enforcement for at least four months in Logan Circle and citywide. An administration appointee announced the plan for a parking task force April 23 as about 1,000 ministers and churchgoers from across the city protested the changes at a Logan Circle rally.

“We cannot always do things as quickly as we like when we take into account legitimate, important, very critical community issues in our city,” Mr. Williams said. “Everything we’ve done in our city, we try to bring together all the parties…on a solution.”

The task force will consist of community leaders, clergy, city officials and the mayor’s interfaith council, officials said last month.

Officials from the D.C. Department of Transportation, which will have representatives on the task force, said last week that they expect the panel to begin meeting this week. The officials also said the panel will not meet until the city has approached representatives from every concerned group.

“There has been a decision as to which groups will be represented, but I think they are in the process of approaching people,” said Karyn LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the department.

It was not clear which community and church groups the task force will include or which parts of the city they will represent.

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