Wednesday, April 19, 2006

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday said it is his executive right and an acceptable policy decision to arbitrarily enforce laws against double parking in some areas of the city.

“There’s a zone of discretion for the executive … especially when it comes to something broad and systematic,” Mr. Williams said. “I think it’d be wrong for me to say ‘I’m walking down the street and I’m going to give you a parking ticket that I won’t give you.’ But as a matter of broad policy it’s a different question.”

The Washington Times reported late last year that community leaders, local churches and city officials in Logan Circle were arguing about rampant illegal double parking on Sundays in the area.

City officials responded last month by announcing a new parking plan for the Northwest neighborhood that would add parking spaces and enforce laws against double parking beginning May 21. They said those laws would be enforced citywide beginning July 1.

However, officials with the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) last month told The Times that parking laws must be enforced equally throughout a city and a policy dictating otherwise, such as the city’s plan to enforce first in Logan Circle and then citywide, would be illegal.

“We would never enforce in one place and not the other,” said Mary Myers, a spokeswoman for DPW. “You have to enforce it everywhere.”

But Miss Myers said yesterday that “things have changed” and equal enforcement is no longer required because Logan Circle is being used as a public policy pilot program.

“[District Department of Transportation] made the determination that, yes, they want to do a pilot program and that’s their purview,” she said. “It has to do with policy.”

Although double parking long has been illegal in the District, Sunday infractions around churches were ignored as a matter of courtesy to parishioners, DPW officials said last year. A pilot program and warning period is acceptable as a way to reintroduce residents to the law now that the city plans to enforce it, Miss Myers said.

The penalty for double parking is $50.

Members of the D.C. clergy have circulated a petition asking Mr. Williams to delay citywide enforcement at least a year while they develop a plan to address parking concerns in their neighborhoods.

Mr. Williams said yesterday that he will continue working with churches to resolve the issue.

Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said that enforcement should be delayed until residents and churches can sit down and discuss valid Sunday parking options. Mr. Lynch, who took part in the community parking discussions in Logan Circle that resulted in 77 new permanent and 78 Sundays-only spaces, said that the best solution is for everyone to work together.

“My sense of it is that each neighborhood needs to have an opportunity to go through a similar process that’s happened in Logan Circle,” he said.

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