Thursday, March 16, 2006

DDOT Seeking Public Comments on Church Parking

The District Department of Transportation has published a press release asking all interested parties for comments on their new proposals to ease the Sunday parking crunch. In brief, the proposal includes:


  • Review of parking availability in the neighborhood, leading to traffic changes and parking spot re-arrangement

  • Provide public space permits to the appropriate churches to allow double parking on Sundays and other certain church events

  • Encourage private lot owners to open up on Sunday

  • Look into shuttle and transit service from larger parking lots

  • Provide valet service for moving double parked vehicles hat have blocked in another vehicle



This looks to me to be the same parking recommendations that were discussed at the March 3rd ANC Meeting. At that meeting, our commissioners voted to recommend approval of the proposals, except for the public space permits. (The minutes from that meeting are still not available on the ANC's web site.)

Additionally, enforcement of violations will be increased starting (estimated) April 23rd. For three weeks prior, DDOT plans to work with other agencies to distribute warning leaflets explaining the increased enforcement to those it would affect.

Ann Simpson-Mason of the DDOT Policy and Planning Administration will be collecting the comments, and can be reached at +1 202.671.2740 or at Ann.Simpson-Mason@dc.gov.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention this provision:

"Provide blanket public space permits for as long as a year for Sunday parking and for other agreed-upon church events. This revocable and renewable permit could allow back-in parking, double-parking and other additional spaces and would be in addition to the parking/traffic regulatory changes. The new spaces would not block fire lanes or create other safety hazards. This site-type of scheme has been successfully implemented on Capitol Hill around RFK for the baseball season."

I believe these permits would continue the parking problems. Remember, in the Logan community parking was not a problem on Sundays, the church goers were. Walk around on Sundays -- there are spots. It is lazy church goers who want to park right in front of the churches instead of walking 2 blocks that are the problem. DDOT is giving these people a gift by adding this.

Todd said...

Personally, I commend DDOT on its efforts to finally establish amuch-belated parking policy regarding religious institutions. As mentioned in the December 6 letter from Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations to William Howland, the current policy creates significant safety and emergency-related hazards to the communities in which these religious institutions operate, as well as provides parishioners (many of whom do not even live in the District) with an unfair advantage over the tax paying neighborhood residents who are subjected to weekly burdens such as the blocking in of legally parked vehicles by double-parked cars of parishioners.

That having been said, there are a few provisions of the proposed policy that cause concern. They are as follows:

(1) The most objectionable portion of the proposed policy is that which would allow for the provision of "blanket public space permits for as long as a year for Sunday parking and for other agreed-upon church events." This provision is problematic from both a legal and practical point of view in that it

(a) violates the legislatively mandated prohibition against double-parking at all times in all places in the District;

(b) provides parishioners (many of whom do not live in the city) with greater rights than tax paying residents ... especially at a time when the district is seeking to increase fees for residential parking permits which would essentially have no value on Sundays (one of every two weekend days and one of every seven days of the week) as a result of this proposal;

(c) demonstrates (as does the entire proposed policy) illegal and unconstitutional favoritism toward certain religious groups ... in particular, christians who worship on Sunday ... over other religious groups that worship on other days (such as Jewish people) in direct violation of the separation of church and state clause of the Constitution;

(d) creates unfair, undue and unnecessary superior rights for one group over all other businesses and groups;

(e) leaves the door open for continuation of the same problem that community groups have been protesting ... specifically, the continuation of safety hazards from reduced vision of drivers and unfair burden and inconvenience to local residents from the blocking of legally parked vehicles by double-parked cars;

(f) reduces the number of spaces available to tax-paying residents (who also pay for parking permits) in favor of non-community members; and,

(g) essentially defeats the whole purpose of creating a new parking policy by creating a huge loophole that, instead of offering a deterrent for double parking, actually gives people a gift through parking permits that can last "for as long as a year." (The people who double park merely have to get one permit per year and illegally park when they want to do so on Sundays. There is no hardship in getting a permit once a year. That is not a deterrent against illegal parking.)

(2) Communication with Community Organizations and Religious Groups: Though the proposed policy claims that DDOT has and will continue to work with both community groups and religious leaders, the truth of the matter ... at least in regard to Logan Circle ... is that city officials have met on a regular basis with church leaders to discuss development of this policy but have never met with local community members and in fact have never even formally responded to Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations December 2005 letter on this specific issue. This is an extreme oversight which shows an unfair bias toward tax-exempt religious leaders over tax-paying community residents which I sincerely hope that the city will correct in the future.

(3) General Overall Policy: The overall policy, in general, has two major flaws. First, it addresses the needs of only one religious group while ignoring the parking needs of other religious groups. For instance, Jewish people worship on Friday evening and Saturday ... yet, the policy does not address increased parking demands during these times at all. Second, the policy assumes that it is the responsibility of the city and the taxpayers to provide parking for religious institutions ... without any mention of the responsibility of these non-taxed entities to act responsibly to address parking and traffic congestion issues caused by the large number of congregants that they bring in to these local communities. While I support reviews to create additional parking, the policy should recognize that religious institutions ... like all businesses and groups ... must start taking responsibility for these problems which they are creating and start doing long-term planning to create new (where none exists) or additional (where lots are insufficient) parking spaces on their own rather than expecting the citizens to do so for them through the use of their hard-earned tax dollars.

(4) Omissions: The policy does not appear to address the problem of the lack of municipal parking facilities in the District, created and operated by the city, which would significantly reduce the parking problem not only around religious institutions but around businesses and residential areas as well. The use of municipal lots with metered parking has proven to be extremely successful in Bethesda and needs to be given serious thought and consideration for the District. It is my understanding that this has not been done to date because the city has, inexplicably, provided exclusive contracts to either one or only a few company(ies) to manage parking lots within the District.

Beyond the above comments, the proposed policy seems to be a significant step in the right direction. I specifically support detailed reviews to increase parking for everyone ... residents and parishioners alike ... as well as full-time enforcement of all parking regulations (including the codified prohibition against double parking) seven days a week (including Sundays), 365 days a year. The proposal for a warning period and the creation of a Sunday parking enforcement division are also very smart and well supported.

I encourage EVERYONE to write to DDOT at bill.rice@dc.gov and Ann.Simpson-Mason@dc.gov to request that, at the very least, the objectionable Sunday blanket public space permits provision be removed.

Ellen said...

I personally commend DDOT and its efforts to work with affected parties to resolve this issue. The proposal, while not perfect, represents a reasonable first step.

I'd like to see all involved community participants give it a chance and see how it works. If it still doesn't solve the problem, the dialouge can start again.

In general, I've been impressed with the response of the District, MPD, ANC2F and the community stakeholders and their willingness to quickly work out a initial solution to this issue. It may not be perfect, but it's a start.

Anonymous said...

I found that there has been no DC government agency that has upheld the law on the parking issue. Every agency has either looked that other way (MPD and mayor's office) or has given into the double parkers (DDOT). Why do we praise government that contiues to screw the residents of Logan circule. Double parking is illegal and I don't see how people can be happy for what the DC government is not doing which is failing to uphold the law. As Reverend Sharpton once stated: "Don't piss on my leg, and tell me it's raining."

Anonymous said...

There is an alternative: METRO. The U Street Station is just 2 blocks away from many of the churches.