Friday, January 06, 2006

ANC Response to Meeting Report

Todd’s report of Wednesday’s ANC2F discussion concerning the parking problem contains a misunderstanding of my comments at the meeting. I did not say that “blanket enforcement of parking laws” is not possible.

My statements did not materially depart from the view I expressed in my posting on the ANC2F website on December 14:

“Sure, virtually all will agree that laws should be applied evenly throughout the City, and that even churchgoers need to obey the law. But we don't write on a clean slate, and there is a strong feeling among some churchgoers that they need to be able to double park.

Reasonable people ought to be able to come to mutually agreeable solutions that permit parishioners to practice their religion in a church many have attended for years (regardless of where they now live) and at the same time do not block residents from their homes.”

Moreover, in creating the ANC committee on the parking problem and appointing Todd to it, I was also careful to state that enforcement of parking laws must be a part of any solution.

The ANC approach is designed to proceed in a non-divisive, constructive process that will avoid wasteful and likely avoidable litigation.

Charles Reed
Chairman, ANC2F

26 comments:

Mitch said...

I thank the ANC chairman for responding to Todd's comments. I just want to point out that litigation would not be "wasteful" if it forces the city government to enforce the existing laws without discriminating.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with part of Chairman Reed's statement. Unless he comes out and says he is for enforcement without adding another sentence saying, "But we don't write on a clean slate, and there is a strong feeling among some churchgoers that they need to be able to double park." What exactly does that mean? Are you for ticketing double parkers or not? Stop the double talk!

Double parking is wrong and the MPD should ticket everyone who parks illegally whether they go to church or not.

Anonymous said...

Once again, not everyone can be happy with the police. I guess they should spend their time working on parking enforcement instead of attempting to ensure other safety issues, like theft from auto, prostitution, and the drug problems in logan circle. Then, when the churchgoers don't come to church anymore and the pips and drug dealers are on every corner, maybe THEN the community will be happy? Obviously, all laws needs to be enforced, by since Chief Ramsey doesn't think we need a cop on every corner, which ones are higher on the priority list?

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand the argument that enforcing double parking is going to detract PO's from policing violent crime. In the ten minutes that it will take officers to go up the block and write parking tickets, is our city going to turn into sodom and gomorrah? Or perhaps that's why they have a RADIO that will enable them to respond to violent crimes in progress.

Really, come on now.

I just don't understand how it is a zero-sum situation. If people are parking illegally, ticket them! How will that enable the "pips and drug dealers" to take over?

Mitch said...

New York city has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to double parking (the city even is trying to crack down on U.N. cars, see http://www.state.gov/ofm/resource/22836.htm) and the overall crime rate has dropped for the past decades plus. Yes, D.C. and other cities can have it both ways. But I guess that is too much to ask for some. Not shocking.

Also, despite what the church representatives said at the ANC meeting there is not a parking shortage problem in all cities. Businesses and churches have looked ahead and choosen to buy land or make decisions to not screw others when it comes to parking. I believe the churches in this area thought Logan Cirlce would be a crime ridden zone for years and made a conscience choice not to purchase land for a parking lot. That is their fault, not ours. The D.C. government and the churches should not try to make people who do not go to church into second citizens.

Anonymous said...

We all must remember that double parkers inflict more harm than merely inconveniencing those who get stuck behind them. Double parkers increase traffic injuries and fatalities because they force others to make dangerous swerving maneuvers and because they block "sight lines", making it harder for motorists to see bicyclists and pedestrians.

If Chairman Reed or any D.C. official cannot see that then we should look elsewhere. Thank you Mr. Reed for being a great leader. What use are you or the ANC?

Sgt. Emerman said...

For those who have noticed, and from the lack of emails regarding it, I see that very few have, my officers ARE writing tickets, with the exception of on Sunday. They were given that order by me, based upon the complaints of the community. The Sunday situation I am giving a little bit of time to figure out what to do, since this issue is multiplied so much more. Keep in mind, that it is a work in progress, and it will not change overnight. That being said, you also need to realize, as another blogger pointed out, that parking enforcement efforts DO take my officers away from daily patrol functions, such as DWI/DUI enforcement, drug observation posts, and other activites. Yes they all ahve radios, and as another blogger stated,"Or perhaps that's why they have a RADIO that will enable them to respond to violent crimes in progress. They do respond to violent AND property crimes in progress, but I would prefer that they constantly patrol so that they can be more PROACTIVE than REACTIVE. Studies have shown that random patrol tactics reduce the potential for crime and officers are not responding to it as much, because it is not occurring as much. Either way, when you call 311 or 911, we respond. It is our job, and I am not trying to say "Whoa is me", but keep in mind that parking enforcement is just one of the many activities that we are tasked with, especially after DPW folks have gone home for the night. I should also add that after ticketing several vehicles in the area of an unnamed church yesterday for being double parked when there were 7-9 parking spots available in the next block, the recipients of the tickets came outside and chastised my officers. The citizen actually requested that the District Watch Commander respond out to the scene, and the citizen stated that we can't write them tickets and that the officers have started a "War" with them. Just thought that you would want to know.

Anonymous said...

Sgt. Emerman, I am glad the MPD is finally ticketing double parkers (although not on Sunday). I must point out though that the MPD does not deal with parking enforcement 24/7 and if it is so taxing then maybe the city should take the duty off the MPDs hands. In addition, instead of getting upset at each other, I think the community and officers should start attacking our so called political leaders for allowing this situation to get to this point. I know several people who have called the mayor's office and/or city council's offices but still no response from any of them.

Eric said...

I appreciate Chairman Reed's comments, but respectfully disagree. He wrote "... there is a strong feeling among some churchgoers that they need to be able to double park." Why? Is their attendance at church more important or more legally protected than my taking my child to the hospital or attending a business meeting? There is plenty of parking available and the "need" to double-park arises out of laziness rather than actual necessity.

Chairman Reed also wrote that "Reasonable people ought to be able to come to mutually agreeable solutions that permit parishioners to practice their religion in a church many have attended for years (regardless of where they now live) and at the same time do not block residents from their homes.” I agree and, as I understand it, nobody is trying to prevent parishoners from practicing their religion. But, practicing one's religion does not necessitate illegal and double parking. The reasonable solution is for the parishoners to arrive early enough to find legal parking as do the rest of us.

Finally, I must comment that I was disappointed that none of the chuch leaders responded to the solutions presented by Todd's group at the meeting. I think that this is indicative of the problem. They want to speak in generalizations and avoid addressing the issue. The residents came up with several good proposals to resolve the problem and abide by the law. It is now up to the churches to respond or come up with legal solutions of their own!

Mitch said...

Eric, I agree with all your points. Also, I would like Chairman Reed to state clearly where he stands on this issue. The second post in this discussion makes the point that the Chairman has not been upfront. He says he is against double parking, but then says, "we don't write on a clean slate ..."

Who the heck is writing? Not the city governmnet, not the Mayor, not the ANC, and certainly not the ANC. Double parking is already illegal. D.C. Code makes it so and all we want is for the MPD to do their jobs on Sunday. When called they should respond instead of telling D.C. CITIZENS that they have a policy of discriminating against Logan residents.

And by the way, I say tough luck to the churchgoers who think they have to double park. I have "a strong feeling" of being able to get to my car on Sundays but I can't!

Mitch said...

One more point, I doubt Sgt. Emerman has the power to change the Third District policy of not ticketing double parkers on Sundays. From what I have been told this is a standing policy which would have to be discussed internally. One officer can not change it. Am I wrong?

If I am, why Sgt. Emerman haven't you changed this policy?

Do not construe this as an attack on the Third District or Sgt. Emerman. I am merely stating what I have been told and the impressions I have gotten from numerous phone calls to the Third District station and mayor's office.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled that a "citizen stated that we can't write them tickets and that the officers have started a "War" with them." Where does this attitude of entitlement come from? (Well, my question was rhetorical, but to answer it, it obviously comes from years of non-enforcement - NOT MPD's fault - but just the reality.)

Please know, Sgt. Emerman and your team, that your efforts are appreciated. I doubt many others blogging here put their lives on the line in the course of their 9-5's, so you are definitely the key to our safety and security.

The war comment was out of line and indiciative of just how far this sense of entitlement goes. Although I suppose lawbreakers are always at "war" with law enforcement.....

Julian said...

To Sgt. Emerman. I appreciate that the police are trying to issue tickets to correct the problem (as enforcement is the city's role), but I am disappointed that you are not doing so on Sundays. I understand that this is a difficult issue, but the law is clear and it is the police's job to enforce it, not interpret it. The churches are not being good community citizens and they should not be rewarded by being given priority status. On Sunday, I drove up to 14th street (only blocks away) and there were plenty of parking spaces available. It seems an easy solution to me. As for parking enforcement taking away from other patrol functions, that is true of anything that we ask the police to do. But, this is an important issue and we have asked the police for assistance. Finally, as for the ticket recipients chastizing officers, I am sure that is a common (though unpleasant) occurrence but obviously does not negate the need for enforcement. We all agree that parishoners seem to have a notion of entitlement to double park and we need to break them of that erroneous belief. Nonetheless, again, I appreciate the police's initial efforts and hope that soon they will see their way to fully enforce the law to protect our community seven days a week (even on Sundays).

jade said...

>>The citizen actually requested that the District Watch Commander respond out to the scene, and the citizen stated that we can't write them tickets and that the officers have started a "War" with them.<<

Sgt. Emerman: I'm sorry that MPD is in the middle of this nastiness, but frankly, that's what you're paid to do - "wage war" on those who break the law. It is unfortunate that those with this misguided sense of entitlement feel the need to threaten or browbeat law officers. Again, I wonder at the ethics of churchgoers.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder why this is an issue in Logan Circle only. I drive to church every Sunday on Capitol Hill, and I have NEVER seen the blatant disregard for parking rules that I see in our neighborhood. I attend in an area with a great deal of residential, commercial, and religious parking demands, but it just seems to work out because people (myself included) are willing to drive around the block a few times, and (gasp!) even walk 6-8 blocks to attend service/go shopping/park for home.

On the religious point, can anyone tell me how violating the law to attend church is demonstrative of Christian values?

Stephanie said...

I agree with Eric, Jade and Anonymous. We are not responsible for providing parking for parishoners in our community - period! That is the responsibility of the churches or, if they are unwilling to purchase land and build parking facilities, then it is the responsibility of their members to arrive early enough to find legal parking. I attend church in upper northwest and, though congested, people arrive early and park legally. In fact, the police actively ticket around churches in upper northwest. Why aren't we in Logan Circle entitled to the same protection of the laws? As for browbeating police, I witnessed church members screaming at a parking enforcement official last month on Vermont Avenue for issuing tickets. This is totally unacceptable, though I guess part of the job. Certainly, we can all agree that coming out of church and yelling at police or parking enforcement for doing their jobs is not the Christian way! This should not be cause, though, to stop issuing tickets. If anything, it is an example of how out of control the situation has become and the need to take action to correct it.

By the way, I was disappointed that the ANC did not agree to write a letter to city officials supporting the residents as requested. To me, it is the ANC's mission to support the residents and uphold the laws. Whether writing such a letter would help or not, it seemed to be a reasonable request and at least a step in the right direction. To imply that city officials can't be motivated to take action is, in my view, irresponsible and unacceptable. We should demand that our elected officials represent us fully and properly. If we don't take action, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that Stephanie's last point about the ANC is right on. The ANC seems to me to be a good old boys club that does nothing until pressed. I guess this is the way it is but why have such a useless organization? I mean I guess it looks good on their C.V. but come on ... who are we kidding. The organization is a joke and so is the city government on this issue.

Todd said...

As the author of the community letter protesting illegal parking by church parishoners, I am thankful to the ANC for putting the issue on their meeting agenda and providing a forum to discuss it. I was pleased to see so many residents in attendance and encouraged to have many church leaders participate as well. Although I did not agree with all of the statements by commission members and I too was disappointed that they did not take action at this time to write a letter in support of the residents, I believe that the committee that was established will be an important first step in addressing this problem.

My main concerns are that (1) we get away from this notion that parishoners are somehow entitled to double- or illegally park based on prior practice, (2) that we not accept as a given that there is insufficient parking (afterall, as I pointed out in my presentation, over 100,000 workers come to the city every weekday for work and find legal parking), and (3) that we stop debating the issue and begin discussing solutions. I feel that the residents presented several creative and constructive solutions ... from the use of nearby parking lots at public schools or private universities to the hiring of shuttle buses and parking on nearby, unused roadways such as 14th or U streets ... and I am interested to see how church leaders and other officials respond thereto.

It is true that I found it disappointing that, for the most part, neither council members nor church leaders commented on any of the solutions or provided proposals of their own at the meeting itself ... but rather spoke more in generalizations and overviews. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that future discussions will do so and that we will begin focusing less on cultural rhetoric and more on actual solutions to the problem at hand. While I share in the frustration of some of the above commentors that the police have at this time chosen not to uniformly enforce parking regulations on Sundays, I appreciate Sgt. Emerman's direction to officers to issue tickets during the week and I am hopeful that the police will begin doing so on weekends as well.

Sgt. Emerman said...

The issue of Sunday ticket writing is something that has been discussed at a great length here at the Third District. It is my understanding that the reason that we have not yet advised our officers to write tickets on Sunday is in an effort to get the word out to the parking violators that we will be starting soon. Since Sundays bring the most traffic, it is assumed that this day has the largest number of violators. Therefore, we are trying to give an opportunity to get the word out. I am of the understanding that we will begin ticketing the violators soon, but had hoped that some alternatives would have been in place by then. As for my previous posting, I am in no way looking for sympathy or tears for my officers and what they have to do. They understand that they will be yelled at, and they still come to work each day. My officers and I will continue to do our jobs daily, including the issuance of tickets for parking violations, regardless if we get yelled at or not. We thank you for your continued support and remind you that it will not be solved overnight. Give us a chance, and we will get there.

Todd said...

I personally just want to express my gratitude to Sgt. Emerman for his responsiveness and hard work on this issue. I agree that it is not something that will be solved overnight, but I believe that it is important from both a safety and convenience standpoint and well worth the effort. Thank you for working with us the residents and for attempting to address our concerns.

Mitch said...

I want to second Todd's comments about the police. Sgt. Emerman is doing something I have seen too few police do and that is actually converse with citizens to solve what might seem like a minor problem to some but hits at quality of life and safty to Logan residents. Thank you Sgt. Emerman!

Christopher Dyer said...

In my opinion, the role of the ANC is to advice the DC Government on all matters affecting the residents of our neighborhood. In order to ensure that this advice is not only in the best interest of the community, but that the advice we give makes sense.
Sometimes, it takes us a month or so to make sure we get it right.

In the case of parking, I think our strategy was to devote most of a public meeting to airing the issues. Now, we go to work talking with both groups in the dispute and attempt to come up with realistic solutions.

I will point out that I certainly don’t belong to an “old-boys” network and that as Commissioner, I’ve approved countless number of street closure permits, made recommendations to the HPRB and BZA about development projects in the neighborhood, helped approve liquor licenses and supporting the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Crime that will hopefully provide legislative and policy recommendations that will address the crime in a holistic and effective manner. Additionally, with the help of LCCA, we conducted an inventory of all of the trees in the neighborhood and hopefully we will have over 100 new trees in April.

All of this may appear to be unglamorous and while some might think we are a “useless” organization or a “joke”, I happen to be rather proud of my service to the community and assure you that we are doing the best we can.


Christopher Dyer
ANC Commissioner 2F03

Mitch said...

What do you need to get right? Double parking is illegal and I believe the D.C. Council "got it right" the first time by making it illegal. If this issue was in some gray area I would agree with you, but it isn't. The ANC should have supported Todd by at least calling for a letter to be written to the Third District to enforce the law.

As for the ANC, I can understand the anger on this issue by citizens. I have it myself. This might be more of a structural problem with the ANC, but that is not the fault of the people. You are the front line for the community and, rightly or wrongly, you will hear our anger first. Do something about it and then we will say thanks. A letter, along with the ad hoc committee, was not too much to ask.

Eric said...

i appreciate the work of the ANC and i don't think it is appropriate for residents to attack you, especially when you are volunteering your time. but, i agree with mitch that you should support the residents on an issue as clearcut as this where the law specifically states that double parking is illegal and where safety is a concern. i also agree that writing a letter of support was a reasonable request and that the ANC should have done so.

Todd said...

I just want to note that on Saturday morning there were several vehicles double-parked in front of the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, despite legal parking spaces being available only a few feet away. The DC non-emergency police number was called and I am very pleased to report that a police officer arrived within 20 minutes and had the offending vehicles moved. Thank you to the DC Police and to Sgt. Emerman in particular for the quick response.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that no one has pointed out the elephant in the room. That elephant is gentrification, and quite alot of African Americans--who don't even live in the District anymore--are bitter that previous African American neighborhoods are being "taken over" by whites and homosexual couples. It's reverse racism/homophobia and it's manifesting itself in a secondary issue--illegal, and I stress illegal--parking. Everyone has a right to be able to come out in the morning and drive their car to church or wherever on Sunday mornings.