Thursday, January 05, 2006

ANC Meeting Report - Church Parking Issue

From Todd D. Lovinger, Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Laws:

I just wanted to thank the many residents that attended the Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last night and give a brief report on what happened.

Basically, a few residents (including myself) described the issue and proposed solutions. Church representatives then gave their perspective and the commissioners then spoke. In the end, it was decided to create a committee of 2 citizen representatives, 3 church representatives and 3 ANC/LCCA representatives to work on the issue and report back at the next ANC meeting.

I understand from the many messages that I received this morning that several of you are frustrated with the process and, in particular, with remarks by the ANC members that blanket enforcement of the laws may not be possible.

I appreciate your concerns and agree that we have to stay on point that double parking is illegal -- as is parking in front of fire hydrants, cross-walks, intersections, bus stops, etc. -- and I don't plan to back down from that at all and will, if need be, file for a declaratory order to that effect from the courts.

I think, though, that at this point we need to open a dialogue and at least attempt to resolve the problem amongst ourselves ... which we took a first step toward last night. Hopefully, by offering a variety of constructive and creative solutions ... as I tried to do last night ... we will begin to steer the conversation away from the emotional, cultural issues and instead work toward finding actual solutions to the problem.

In the meantime, I encourage all of you to remain involved and continue contacting the police (311) and Mayor's call center (727-1000) to report illegally parked vehicles (they have been somewhat more responsive). As I said, if this does not work, I am prepared to file the necessary legal papers to take the next step so that we may all enjoy and feel safe in our neighborhood.

If anyone would like to discuss the matter further, please feel free to contact me. Thanks again.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

A Declatory Order sounds like a good idea. The DC Administrative Procedure Act (Title 1 Section 108) states that "On petition of any interested person, the Mayor or an agency, within their discretion, may issue a declaratory order with respect to the applicability of any rule, regulation, Council act or resolution, or statute enforceable by them or by it, to terminate a controversy (other than a contested case) or to remove uncertainty." Would be interesting to see if the Mayor or any other agency would dare touch this.

Anonymous said...

If nothing comes of this committee, what can the community do to stop double parking since the DC governmnet (mayor's office and MPD) or the ANC it appears will not take the community's side? Is a lawsuit or this declatory order a real solution?

Christopher Dyer said...

I think there is a misperception about the role of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Please note, this is my opinion and mine alone and is not the official policy of the ANC.

To clarify, I view our role as commissioners as elected officials who advise to the DC Government and other agencies on a variety of topics. In granting this advice we sometimes take a few moments to ensure that our advice is not only in the best interest of the community, but that it also is the correct thing to do. I also consider whether it is reasonable to expect that the DC Government will actually listen to our advice and afford it the great weight it is required by statute.

That being said, in the case of the Logan Parking Enforcement Issue I was very impressed yesterday at the courtesy and professionalism that was displayed by both parties in this issue. I look forward to serving on the committee that is going to hopefully propose realistic solutions and are practical and achievable. Here are some preliminary observations I have.

1) I agree that parking regulations should be enforced. I don’t know how effective a letter from the ANC to the DC Government will be in ensuring that these regulations are enforced and I think that while it may appease some, that ultimately, these letters will have little or no effect in achieving a long term solution.

2) The churches do have an obligation to work with the community to identify alternative locations to park and they should encourage congregants to take public transportation. (I don’t know how realistic it is to expect someone to try and metro in to church on a Sunday morning but it is worth suggesting) I suspect that the pastors of each church do worry about the impact of parking on the neighborhood and are eager to work with us.

3) We need to be creative in creating parking spaces that are available for church congregants on Sundays. I think it is in this arena that the ANC will be most effective. Once alternative spaces are found, I will be a bull dog with DDOT and other agencies within the DC Government to make these spaces available and alleviate some of the congestion that occurs.

I can appreciate the frustration people feel about this problem. I wish there was a magical solution that we could implement to make this issue go away but that isn’t realistic. If you would like, please e-mail me chris@christopherdyer.com and I am happy to elaborate on these thoughts.

Christopher Dyer
ANC Commissioner 2F03

dcbubble said...

Hopefully a compromise is in the air. But given the strong feelings it does not sound like one is likely.

As mentioned on DC Bubble, how about codifying the existing practice in a limited area for a limted period of time.

link is below:
http://dcbubble.blogspot.com/2006/01/you-gotta-comment-where-would-jesus.html

Mitch said...

The "magical solution" would be to enforce the existing law and stop double parking. Discriminating against not-church goers is immoral, illegal, and wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend seeking a declaratory order and any other enforceable legal action. Keep in mind that neighbors tried for years to to convince Metropolitan Baptist Church that parking on the school athletic field at Vermont and R was ruining the field, exposing children to unhealthy conditions and also contrary to DC law and regulation. ONLY after children attending the school filed a legal suit against the church did they cease this illegal behavior. That of course was prior to their decision to move to largo in the spring of 2007. The congregation that they sold the property to has every expectation that they also purchased the right to park illegally.

In addition to their spiritual dimension, all of the churches at issue are very well run and lucrative businesses. I'm curious what their potential liability is if God forbid a neighbor dies as a result of an ambulance being unable to get through in an emergency or if a house burns because the fire department cant access the hydrant.

Its also a mistake to expect ANC's to lead. Instead, they reflect the lowest common denominator of concensus. That is not a criticism, just the way the system is desiged. Its not an activist system.

Where would Jesus Park? HE'D RIDE METRO!

Anonymous said...

My impression of the ANC so far is of an organization created to do nothing. It seems to do that well.

Mitch said...

I hope the community is given notice as to the outcome of the first meeting. Perhaps a suggestion can be made to allow Todd's group to post an account of the meeting and then give the church representatives a chance to do the same that would give us a picture of how the two sides see things. From the ANC meeting, I had the impression that we were far apart on any kind of solution.

jade said...

I've been hearing a lot about how this is not just a convenience issue, but also a safety one. I'm curious to know to what extent this particular aspect of the problem has been addressed. What is the response from the people who say that churchgoers can park illegally? How, specifically, do they plan to address the safety issue?
What is MPD's response? If I'm not mistaken, it is the role of law enforcement and my elected officials to ensure my safety in public settings - so what do you have to say to the people who live in houses where the closest fire hydrants are being blocked?
On any other day, in any other part of town (or the neighborhood), a car parked in front of a fire hydrant gets ticketed and towed. I'm suspicious now that the reason isn't actually safety (or it would be universally enforced), but rather just another way to generate income for the city.

I don't necessarily have a problem with selective enforcement, but I think safety issues take top priority.
To say that church goers' right to convenience trumps my right to safety is both abhorrent and unethical. And quite frankly, hypocritical and unspiritual on the part of the churches.

Eric said...

Why is it the responsibility of the community to provide parking for churchgoers? The churches are a business and, like everyone else, have a responsibility to provide adequate parking lots for their members or to expect their members to find legal parking on the streets. I find the entire notion that churchgoers have some superior right over actual residents and property owners to be offensive and just plain wrong.

As for the meeting, I was happy that church leaders showed up but disappointed that they did not address any of the solutions proposed by Todd's group or offer any of their own. If the churches are not going to engage in active discussion of solutions, this will be a waste of time.

Finally, I believe that it is the ANC's role to support the community on this issue and demand that the parking laws be enforced, just as it is the police's role to enforce the parking laws. The law applies to all of us and it is wrong for the ANC to preach selective enforcement or to avoid the issue because it is a tough topic. If it was an easy issue, we wouldn't need the ANC.

P walk said...

Clearly, the squadrons of the indignant, most self-righteous “Washingtonians” have showed up to raise hell about some double-parking on Sundays. It’s curious, that for a hundred plus years, Metropolitan has done its thing. But now that matchbox houses cost upward $800000, the residents suddenly feel that they have the entitlement to upend a Washington institution, having emigrated from places where parking must be plentiful.

What happened to paying any type of respect to institutions that have served the community for decades? What happened to accepting certain standards of neighborhood posterity? Yes, double parking breaks some rules, but we’ve all been the benefactors of cops looking the other way. Well, I’m sure the developers are salivating, if not orchestrating this move.

Anonymous said...

maybe its time for some gorilla activism tactics.

Anonymous said...

These institutions have not double parked for 100 years and even if they had its wrong.

There are a ton of DC customs that should be done away with and this is one of them. A good city has laws that are enforced equally. But I guess that is too much to ask for some. You probably want that crackhead Barry to still run this city.

Stephanie said...

A few thoughts regarding P Walk's ill-conceived and inept comments:

In terms of your view that "the residents suddenly feel that they have the entitlement to upend a Washington institution," we are not trying to upend anything. We support the churches, we just want them to abide by the law. If anyone is claiming an entitlement, it is the parishoners who seem to feel that they are above the law and who are disrespecting the rights and safety of the residents.

In regard to your comment, "What happened to accepting certain standards of neighborhood posterity," I would suggest it cuts both ways. Just as we should be good neighbors and members of the community, so should the parishoners. There is no reason for them to block in our cars and create safety hazards when legal parking is available only blocks away. Is that the Christian way?

And finally, no, it is not developers that are orchestrating this action. Rather, it is concerned residents who are trying to improve the neighborhood and make it one that can be used and enjoyed by everyone ... parishoners and residents alike.

Stephanie said...

In re the comments of P Walk: The issue has nothing to do with the value of our homes, but rather with having respect for one another and being good citizens of the community. It is just plain rude, inconsiderate and wrong - not to mention a significant safety hazard - for parishoners to double-park when legal parking is available just blocks away. And, for the record, if anyone is claiming an entitlement here, it is the parishoners ... not the residents. We are just asking that everyone be treated equally and fairly under the law - none better, none worse - as required under our system of government. And, finally, no ... it is not the developers that are behind this outcry, but rather responsible residents that are trying to make this a better neighborhood that can be enjoyed by all ... residents are parishoners alike.

Anonymous said...

hmmn... "hundred plus years..." Last time I checked Henry Ford first starting mass producing the automobile in 1908. So I would love to see what the streets looked like a hundred years ago. Do you think they were double parking the horse carriages?

Anonymous said...

While I hope that the community, the church and the ANC can come up with something, I am not that hopeful. I have prepared a flier that I will be putting on illegally parked cars around churches this Sunday. It is very respectful, just letting the person know that they are parked illegally, what the negative effects are (emergency services, limited visibility leading to accidents, and keeping others from being able to park), and asking them to take their Christian values into account when they park. As I say, WWJD? He wouldn't double park. I'm hoping that "talking" to people on an individual basis will help people realize on their own that what they are doing is wrong. If anyone else is interested in this effort, please post.

Anonymous said...

Just read this and it makes me wonder if ANC will really be helpful at all. This isn't about religion people, this isn't about race, it's about the law.

Dee Hunter, chairman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that includes neighboring Shaw, home to a number of congregations, compared the residents' campaign to a "witch hunt" and said that much of the opposition "almost rises to the level of racism and religious persecution."