- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

D.C. parking officers have been allowed to get away with flouting the laws they’re paid to enforce.

Many officers have been leaving their private vehicles parked illegally in front of the city’s public works complex in Northeast before fanning across the District in city-issued cars to ticket other motorists.

On a typical day last week, six vehicles were parked all day in tow-away zones in front of the complex, in the 2000 and 2100 blocks of West Virginia Avenue Northeast. Seven were parked in the driveway of a nearby warehouse. One was parked three feet from a fire hydrant, and another rested partly on a sidewalk. Dozens of other vehicles were parked for longer than the posted four-hour maximum. However, none of them had parking tickets on the windshields.

“I can’t speak to that. Please respect that,” one ticket issuer told a reporter for The Washington Times who monitored the street several times last week. Most of the other ticket issuers declined to comment when asked about the illegal parking.

Terri Adams, the city’s parking-enforcement administrator, said the District has not strictly enforced parking regulations outside of the complex because no complaints have been received.

However, on Friday, one day after The Times inquired about the parking, Miss Adams said vehicles were being ticketed.

“The point is well taken. They will be ticketed,” said Miss Adams, who did not know the number of illegally parked vehicles on West Virginia Avenue that belonged to ticket issuers.

The D.C. Department of Public Works is the city’s primary enforcer of parking violations, generating up to $70 million in parking-fine revenue annually. That money does not include the more than $3 million in fees that has been collected to remove wheel “boots” that immobilize vehicles that have multiple tickets.

The District has one of the most aggressive campaigns among U.S. cities to clamp down on motorists with outstanding parking tickets. D.C. officials say using the irons boots is often the only way to get out-of-state drivers to pay.

To crack down on illegal parking across the rest of the city, the public works department is putting cameras in enforcement vehicles so ticket issuers can identify the license plates of cars with unpaid tickets.

Miss Adams said the department is encouraging ticket issuers to take public transportation or car pool to work.

She said the department made it clear several years ago that workers would have to park legally.

“That plan wasn’t being followed,” Miss Adams said.

Parking around the public works complex has recently become worse because of renovations and construction.

“I don’t mean to park illegally,” said a ticket issuer who was parked in a tow-away zone all day and who declined to provide her name. “There’s not enough parking.”

D.C. workers being exempt from parking regulations is not unprecedented.

In June 2002, D.C. Council members voted to exempt themselves from most of the regulations.

The measure, after a year in which ticket issuers cracked down on the illegally parked vehicles of council members, was sponsored by council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican. Supporters also included Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat who was the council member from Ward 4, and council member Jim Graham, a Ward 1 Democrat who now has oversight of the public works department.

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