Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Church Parking: The New Old Campaign Issue

The Washington Informer reports that at a recent meeting of meeting of the Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference of D.C. and Vicinity (emphasis on vicinity), "Reverend Gilbert began by asking about the city’s parking policies that have 'strangled the life out of churches,' he said. Aggressive parking enforcement, initiated under Mayor Anthony Williams’ administration, continues to result in high fines and cars being towed away in neighborhoods that are not friendly towards churches."  The article continues:
Gray agreed to improve access of worshippers to churches in the District and to open a dialogue between churches and the community. He promised to reestablish an Office of Religious Affairs and to hold an annual religious prayer breakfast.

Fenty said a compassionate police department has reduced the animosity between the churches and the police department that occurred four years ago.

“You talk about compassion,” Gilbert asked Fenty, “but it’s a reality that every Sunday there are tow trucks sitting outside of churches, not only to ticket them but to tow those cars away. These are $75 tickets on a Sunday. Do you call that compassion?”

There is still work to do, Fenty said, but at least the animosity between the churches and the community has dissipated. 
In the last Mayoral election, a turning point for me was when Linda Cropp stood with churches who felt that their congregants from Maryland and Virginia should have a license to park anywhere they please on Sundays rather than neighborhood residents who felt that they were prisoners in their own homes and had their safety placed at risk.  The situation has improved in recent years with establishment of special Sunday parking rules and more angle parking that increase the number of spaces, and ticketing for blatant violations.

I'm not sure why the churches are entitled to special compassion?  Residents don't get any compassion if they can't find a space to move their car near their home on a street cleaning day.  They don't get compassion when they choose to drive somewhere in the city rather than take metro, whether its work-related or personal, and park near a hydrant or in a crosswalk.  They pay a ticket.  And if a person were to go to high holiday or even Saturday services at the Sixth and I Synagogue and double park on H Street, I expect they'd get towed.  Immediately.

Mayor Fenty has this one right.  The rules should be applied fairly and consistently to all.  Where it's possible to change the rules to help the situation, absolutely, the city should do so.  But allowing lawlessness in our neighborhoods, providing certain groups with special privileges over others, or favoring nonresident interests over resident safety and quality of life concerns are nonstarters.


NWResident said...


The special angled parking is still abused .... go up and down the street any Sunday after 2:00 and see the cars still parked that way - and they park illegally on more than just Sundays also - check out weekday services as well.

NO one or NO group is above the established laws. If you don't like the law, then work to get it changed - just don't act as if it doesn't apply to you.

Charles said...

I totally agree, Cary. And, participation by politicians in prayer breakfasts, whether the Mayor or the President is disturbing. Some of us do not accept religious belief, and we do not believe that it has any place in public life.

David F. said...

"every Sunday there are tow trucks sitting outside of churches, not only to ticket them but to tow those cars away." Really? Really? I have lived in DC - and near a lot of churches - for over 10 years and never seen a tow truck by a church. I challenge Gilbert - or anyone else - to provide evidence that this is true. I'm sorry, but tow trucks are not sitting outside churches just waiting for someone to illegally park.