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.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.
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.
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.