- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

A panel charged with alleviating parking problems around D.C. churches on Sundays recommends cracking down on double-parkers.

“The current parking moratorium should be ended and … the Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Department of Public Works be instructed to commence full enforcement throughout the city,” the 14-member task force said yesterday.

The report recommended that each neighborhood with Sunday parking problems form its own task force, and that full enforcement begin by early April.

“Essentially, the spirit of the task force report is that each church realizing that not every community has the same parking problems, but there are problems with just there being enough space,” said Henry Stewart, community affairs director for Mayor Anthony A. Williams. “Each community will be charged to work with the church and the [Advisory Neighborhood Commission] in a collaborative way.”

Churchgoers have been allowed to ignore D.C. laws against double parking for at least 30 years. However, as the city’s high-priced housing market drove some parishioners into the suburbs and gave way to new residents, Sunday parking in neighborhoods such as Logan Circle and U Street has become a contentious issue between residents and churchgoers.

Residents say double parking blocks in their vehicles and creates traffic-safety hazards, and that the laws should be enforced.

The Metropolitan Police Department is responsible for parking enforcement on the weekends and does not issue tickets for double parking on Sundays.

A double-parking violation carries a $50 fine.

The task force report suggests a series of solutions, including one that would allow communities and churches to apply for double-parking permits. This would require action by the D.C. Council.

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, chairman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, which holds hearings on parking proposals, said yesterday that she would not support a bill to allow for such permits.

“I do not favor double-parking legislation because I do not think, under any circumstance, that a resident or anyone should be blocked in to his or her parking space,” said Mrs. Schwartz, a Republican. “The double-parking solution to me is not a solution.”

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, formed the task force in late April after church leaders protested the city’s plans to enforce double-parking laws in early July.

Mr. Williams said yesterday that he likely will not implement changes or encourage enforcement before he leaves office in January. He said he will leave the task to the new mayor.

Adrian M. Fenty, the Democratic nominee for mayor, has supported community solutions to parking issues but wants the law against double parking enforced.

The report also recommends reconfiguration to increase parking with angled spaces and spots along street medians; allowing churchgoers to use private parking garages; and providing Sunday morning valet services or shuttle buses.

The task force in Logan Circle completed its work earlier this year. The group brought together city, church and community leaders and quickly came to an agreement for enforcement while adding 77 permanent and 78 Sundays-only parking spots to the neighborhood.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide