Logan Circle Parking Problems

A Blog designed to bring to the attention of our political leaders the problems of illegal church parking

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Jacks Evans Speaks out on the Kojo and Jonetta show: Is that Enough?

This is another part of the Kojo and Jonetta show that we posted about earlier. During the show, Councilmember Jack Evans called in to state his support for DC residents in forcing the city to actually a enforce the parking laws equally. The following is a near verbatim account of what Jack Evans said:

"The District of Columbia has to enforce the parking laws. I certainly understand both sides of the issue. I understand the long tradition. I understand the resident's concerns. But at the end of the day we have laws on the books that you cannot double park, that you can't park illegally and they need to be enforced. And the task force ... I think the frustration you are hearing now is the Logan Circle group and the churches had a task force and there was an agreement to enforce this stuff beginning in May and now all of a sudden they aren't going to go forward and do it. And people are pretty outraged about it. I'm getting hundreds and hundreds of emails about this. I have to say that there are lots of parts of the city ... I have 127 churches in my ward and there are lots of parts of the city where churches with large congregations that do not park illegally or they would be ticketed and towed. And so unfortunately for the tradition that has existed that is the tradition has to come to an end and enforcement must take place."

Later on Evans was asked if he would introduce a resolution in the DC Council for the Mayor to enforce the law. He said he was willing to do that, but it didn't make sense since the law is the law and it should be enforced.

We think this is another step in the right direction for Jack Evans, but he needs to go forward and submit a resolution and send a letter to the Mayor demanding enforcement of all parking laws. We ask all our readers to email his office (jackevans@dccouncil.us) or call him (202) 724-8058 demanding that he continue to press for equal treatment of everyone in DC.

Mayor's Spokewomen Lies her butt off on church parking

On their Friday (Apr. 28) show at noon, Kojo and Jonetta (WAMU 88.5 FM) discussed the battle between churches and DC residents over illegal Sunday parking. You can listen to the show here.

What happened on the show is interesting. Dr. Susan Newman (special assistant to the Mayor for religious affairs and adjunct minister of Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ) spoke about the illegal church parking issue. At first she just describe the details of the conflict saying that the parking issue has been a problem for years and that for 30 years the churches were able to double park without the fear of getting ticketed by the MPD. So far so good we say, but Dr. Newman then went on to describe the recent conflict between the churches and residents and FLAT OUT LIED about who asked for the task force!!! What she said was that Logan Circle residents and churches requested a task force. Of course that is wrong and dishonest! No resident requested another task force after Logan Circle already had a parking commission to study the issue. That would just be stupid to have two commissions for the same problem.

Anyhow, so Dr. Newman went on to lie again when she said that the Mayor's task force has already begun work on the parking issue. Dr. Newman said that the task force created 170 parking spaces in Logan Circle. First, we all know the number is 150, not 170. Second, the Logan Circle parking commission created those spaces, not the Mayor's task force. Dr. Newman and Mayor Williams are trying to take credit for something that the Logan Circle community worked long and hard to accomplish. She is a liar and a disgrace! WE CALL HER OUT AS A FRAUD!!!

Dr. Newman's final lie occurred when she stated that the churches didn't know about the parking changes and when enforcement would occur. She said changing the parking signs in Logan Circle takes at least 30 days. We guess she forgot that the Logan commission ended in early April and enforcement wasn't to begin until late May. In addition, the Logan Circle commission (which had church members on it) ensured that the church clergy told their members to, first, not to double park then that they would be ticketed soon for parking illegally. Those announcements began in February. This gave churches substantially more than 30 days time for notifying churchgoers that Dr. Newman said was needed.

Now at this point Kojo and Jonetta attacked Dr. Newman stating its wrong that one group is treated differently than all other groups. One of them said these churchgoers have abandoned the city so why should DC residents have to "dance around them?" Dr. Newman basically said that the churches should get a pass because they turned around the neighborhood and made it safe for all these newcomers to live in Logan. Very funny to hang the turnaround on churches when everyone knows its the people who bought the run down houses and made them whole. The churches had very little to do with the regrowth of Logan. In fact, some of the Logan churches bought broken down houses and lots during the 80s and still do not repair them for the benefit of the community. These churches simply let them fall into further disrepair. Sad for Dr. Newman to have such a warped picture of Logan history.

Finally, Dr. Newman said double parking isn't illegal parking. Only blocking fire hydrates or cross walks is illegal. She went on to say this is not a church parking problem, but a citywide parking problem.

We ask you to listen to the show and judge for yourself if Dr. Newman was lying. However, we trust that everyone will agree with us that Dr. Newman totally misrepresented some of the basic facts and tried to place Mayor Williams in the best light. Also, we love that a church reverend is the Mayor's spokesperson on this issue! Can't get any better than that to show who has the real power in this city.

Many thanks to an "NPP Listener" on the DCist website for pointing this out!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Coverage of the Jack Evans' Newsletter by DCist

On Friday, the DCist website took another look at the church parking issue after Councilmember Jack Evans issued his newsletter. Like us, they are not hopeful. DCist Martin was even more direct than us in saying "it is doubtful that [Evans] will expend much political capital trying to convince the mayor to start enforcing parking laws on May 21." Its sad to say, but we agree with Martin. Although we hope for some type of leadership from Evans, we doubt he will stand up and do the right thing.

Update: The Silence of Public Officials

This is an update to our previous post, "A Call to public officials." So far no public official who we contacted has answered our questions. We continue to wait and are saddened at the indifference these elected people have to the community's concerns.

From the looks of things Williams, Cropp, and Evans can come together to bring baseball to DC. I guess we can give them a pass on the whole parking issue. Come on! It takes alot of their time to put on a baseball hat and pose for pictures. They don't have anymore time to handle small concerns like illegal parking.

We ask everyone to call these people and demand action! Here are phone numbers to cell:

Mayor Anthony Williams (202) 727-2980 or (202) 727-1000
Deputy Mayor for Operations (202) 727-6053
Mayor's Press Secretary (202) 727-5011
Councilmember Jack Evans (202) 724-8058
Council Chair Linda Cropp (202) 842-2006 (We can't find her phone number on her government website so this is her Campaign phone number...enjoy!)
Councilmember Carol Schwartz (202) 724-8105
Councilmember David Catania (202) 724-7772
Councilmember Phil Mendelson (202) 724-8064
Councilmember Kwame R. Brown (202) 724-8174
Councilmember Adrian Fenty
(202) 727-8052 or (202) 667-2006

The Problems with Jack Evans' Reaction

Since Jack Evans' office came out with the newsletter reaction to the public outcry for elected official support of the Logan Circle parking plan we have been thinking about this new development. Although much of what we are about to say has been explained in our previous post (Jack Evans: A New Hope), we would like to elaborate clarify some of our earlier points.

1) Evans' recent statement was not made in a public venue. In fact, it was done in a way to give it the least amount of public exposure. The means in question was a newsletter which had been sent out to only members of Evans' email list (we suppose perhaps fewer than that). In addition, Evans has placed nothing on his website as of Friday morning and has made no statement to the press. His endorsement of the Logan Circle parking plan was done in a manner to conceal rather than reveal his newfound support.

2) The way he has presented his support for Logan Circle residents still gives him the ability to play both the Logan community and churches. On one hand, the Washington Times article has him saying that the Mayor's task force is a good thing. However, in this recent newsletter he says he does support the Logan Circle parking plan. That support, however, is limited because he has so far failed to publicly say he wants the Mayor to enforce the law. Evans needs to be declaritive. Say what you mean all the time Evans!!! Don't leave people wondering.

3) Although most of the story is right, some of the facts in the Evans' newsletter are incorrect. First, the commission created in Logan Circle was never called the "Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations Taskforce." That name is given to the residents of Logan Circle who seek an end to unjust enforcement and illegal parking, not the commission endorsed by the ANC. Second, Evans fails to include Logan Circle residents as part of the parking task force. Third, the plan did "address the safety factors," but an acknowledgement of enforcement as a key provision would have been helpful to further explain the parking plan in Logan.

All in all, we feel Evans' newsletter is a positive step forward. However, he must call on the Mayor to enforce the law in a public setting. We suggest the following: 1) at the next DC Council meeting Jack Evans should call on the council to create an oversight commission to ensure that the parking laws are enforced equally; 2) Evans writes Mayor Anthony Williams demanding that the May deadline for Logan Circle be adhered to; 3) Public statements to the press are given stating clearly that he supports enforcement of all laws regardless of the race, religion, or economic standing of the driver.

In addition, to all of you DC residents out there call Evans' office asking him to do the above mentioned things in order to fully support equal parking for all. His number is (202) 724-8058. Or you can email Mr. Evans: jackevans@dccouncil.us or his Director of Communications, Sean Metcalf: smetcalf@dccouncil.us

Still no word on Mayor Anthony Williams' task force for church parking

Since there is no new word on the task force for church parking and seeing that the Mayor has more important duties like visiting a London library we think its time to call on the Mayor (well his office) to ask, no demand, that action be taken on this church parking task force. We know traveling to England is very important for DC affairs, but this parking matter needs to receive some of his attention.

We ask everyone to call the Mayor's citywide call center: (202) 727-1000 and voice your complaints about the delay in enforcement and the inaction in creating a commission.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Jack Evans : A New Hope

Looks like all our efforts have finally gotten Jack Evans to say something for Logan Circle residents. Here is what Mr. Evans latest newsletter contained:
Mayor Williams recently decided to delay the much-anticipated implementation of the Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations Taskforce's recommendations. While we can continue to work on refining the Taskforce's recommendations, immediate relief is warranted. I urge the Mayor to take the first step and begin enforcement of the initial phases of the Logan Circle plan. The May 21 enforcement date for Logan Circle, which was agreed upon, is reasonable and should be implemented.

This Taskforce included members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F, the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, the District Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works. The Taskforce was formed to find a workable solution to the parking problems specifically related to church parking in the neighborhood.

The plan, which included adding angled parking along Vermont Avenue and 11th Street, NW, parking along the median strip on Vermont Avenue, NW from Q to S Streets, NW and 9th to Logan Circle on Rhode Island Avenue, NW on Sundays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm was agreed upon by residents and churches and, should be honored. I support this plan and see no reason for its delayed implementation. Not only did it address the safety factors, which we see when fire hydrants and cross walks are blocked, but it created almost 150 new spaces.

I applaud the efforts of the government, neighbors and church officials who participated in the months long task force.
Lets hope Mr. Evans continues to say that enforcement is necessary. He needs to clearly state to the press, churches, and especially the MAYOR that enforcement should begin in Logan Circle. Let us make this very clear--Councilmember Jack Evans must state this publicly whenever he can. This cannot be for only a select constituent audience who want enforcement. We will not allow Mr. Evans to double talk his way out of this or simply issue a press statement and then let the matter die. So, everyone please don't be fooled by this SMALL step forward. Continue to press Evans' office for enforcement. Ask him to bring this subject up at the next DC Council meeting. Only through such political action will we get the enforcement that is needed.

Jack Evans Update

Thanks dwb for the new information. Well, it's not really breaking story stuff but at least it adds on to the general impression that Jack Evans is a waste of space politician who doesn't do crap for his constituents.
Jack Evans Director of Communication emailed me that he saw my blog and asked if he should respond there (on the blog) or to me directly. I told him I was glad the CM was checking into his constituents' vision of his advocacy for us through various methods (blogs) and that his opinion poll numbers must be comparable with George Bush. I further told him we need someone who will take a stand and do what is right--the task force should not be trashed in favor of another task force and more delay. I further said that perhaps the CM should respond in his newsletter (which comes out every Friday) but that we needed action not rhetoric. Here is his response: "Our newsletter is weekly -- We take off one week during the spring recess, that is why there was not one last week. This week's newsletter WILL NOT [EMPHASIS ADDED] touch on the parking issue. However, we will cover that issue in an upcoming newsletter."

Jack Evans: Ineptness still going Strong

Different day, but same old stuff on Jack Evans' website. We guess the production "Where Eagles Fly" needs more hype than other community concerns. Oh, well again nothing new coming from Mr. Evans. The guy is truly a piece of work.
If you have not had the chance to make it over to the Lincoln Theater for the must see production of "Where Eagles Fly", a journey into Shaw's rich history and tradition, you only have until April 19 - so make room in your calendar. Written by Shaw resident and local playwright Carole Mumin, "Where Eagles Fly" illustrates the importance of preserving and passing along the legacies of the communities in which we live.

The play uses music, dance and verse to tell the story of the incredibly rich legacy of Shaw, a neighborhood that has been an integral part of the modern development of African American culture. Over 10 years ago, the play made a successful run at the Lincoln Theatre. Now it's back and a must see for everyone, but it will close soon.

The Shaw neighborhood has experienced many changes since the early '90's and it's important that its history is memorialized and honored. It's important to support our own and I hope everyone will come out and see this magnificent production. For additional information about the play and to purchase tickets, visit www.whereeaglesflyllc.com or call 939.0560.

Linda Cropp: If it looks like a duck, quaks like a duck, it more than likely is a duck!

Here is another poster from one of our comment sections. Again, Cropp isn't holding up well to public scrutiny. She might be saying all the right things in private, but in public she sure does look like a supporter of illegal parking habits for churches.
I also emailed Cropp's office with my concern over her appearance and comments at the RALLY. Here is the double-speak reply: I absolutely support your right and the right of all residents to park without interference. I do not support illegal parking. I attended the rally to urge support for solutions that respect that residents must be able to park freely, and also address the need for parking for churchgoers.

This is consistent with my view that we must find creative solutions to our parking problem. I voted to change our parking regulations to allow parking in certain restricted areas during late night and early mornings to increase the number of available, legal parking spaces. Specifically, from 10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., a resident now can park closer to an intersection, and can park in loading zones and in entrances--forbidden areas during all other hours.

I would welcome the change to talk with you more about this. Please give me your number or call me on 724-8032. Thank you for taking the time to write me. Linda Cropp I responded: Dear Chairman Cropp: I believe you only support our rights to park freely in theory--just as Jack Evans does. Logan Circle had its task force--the churches took part in the process and are now using rhetoric during an election year to try to get a better deal. This is from the Washington Times indicating all was in place from DDOT's perspective to implement the proposals from the Logan task force: "We are using Logan Circle as a pilot program for the rest of the city" said Karyn LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). "We want to see how implementing full enforcement in that area is going to work before implementing it citywide."

I've always admired you as a conciliator, but Logan residents made concilations and have paid the prices with DDOT restriping costs and traffic patterns that slow down traffic all days of the week to accommodate Sunday parkers. We just want fairness, but election fears have trumped us getting that. Jack Evans copped out by saying that only the Mayor can enforce the parking laws, but we know the Council Chair and Councilmembers can advocate for residents to influence him. You and he have just chosen not too. Unfortunately Evans is not running for reelection this year. But you and Phil Mendelson are. We need to continue to tell these politicans that another task force is not aceptable.

Chris Dyer: A Friend to Logan Circle Residents

The following comes from the comments section of the Logan Circle News blog. This is not in response to the questions submitted to DC public officials but came indepedently from Commissioner Dyer a few days ago.
As a member of the Logan Circle Church Parking Committee, I can attest to the deliberate and excellent work that was done on all sides.

We came together, listened to each other and jointly agreed to several recommendations for the creation of more parking spaces etc that DDOT implemented.

The one area that we didn't have strong consensus is on the need for enforcement.

I personally support enforcement especially in Logan where it is clear that we have worked together to find a lot of parking spaces for the churches, the carrot, and we need a stick.

During the negotiation, I was pleased at how DDOT responded to our concerns. However, I am angry that they have now decided to postpone a policy.

Hindsight is 20/20 but the simple reality is that DDOT and the DC Government has failed to recognize the need for more parking spaces on Sundays and I think they should have acted sooner to establish working groups of churches and residents. During the negotiations, several DDOT officials stated that one of their policy goals is to dissuade cars from coming into the city which is a perfectly solid public policy goal.

However, there is a bit of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand mentality to that approach especially when it is pretty clear that we have a unique experience on Sunday mornings when several thousand people visit our neighborhoods to worship.

The church leaders are fond of reminding us that this is a problem that has been happening for years. Like most complex issues, it appears that our city leadership doesn’t have a simple easy solution but they should have been acting earlier.

As for Terry Lynch, he is the Executive Director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. He did sort of take over the leadership of our group but he did have the respect of the church leaders and he was a bull dog in getting DDOT to take the action we needed him to do. He may have appeared on stage with the church leaders on Sunday, but I don’t think he sold us out.

I will keep agitating and working with the city to try and get enforcement of our parking laws implemented and am committed to working with any community that has a parking problem. Feel free to e-mail me at chris@christopherdyer.com if you have any comments or have questions.

Christopher Dyer
ANC Commissioner 2F03

A Call to public officials

Shortly we will submit on this blog, and in email, some question to be answered by various public officials about the chuch parking issue. Their answered will be unedited and each will stand alone on separate blog posts. If they refuse to reply we will mention this fact. Here is the list of officials we will ask a public statement from:

Anthony Williams, Mayor
Linda Cropp, Chairperson (DC City Council)
Phil Mendelson, Councilmember (At Large) Updated
Carol Schwartz, Councilmember (At Large) Updated
Kwame R. Brown, Councilmember (At Large) Updated
Jack Evans, Councilmember (Ward 2)
Charles Reed, Chairmember (ANC2f)
Jim Brandon, Commissioner (ANC2f)
Chris Dyer, Commissioner (ANC2f)
Bob Ellison, Commissioner (ANC2f)
Sandra Biasillo, Commissioner (ANC2f)
Michael Nelson, Commissioner (ANC2f)

If you can think of others that need to be contacted, please post suggestions.

Update: Here are the questions we have submitted to the above officials this morning:

1) Do you support ticketing illegal parkers regardless of religion?

2) Do you agree with the Logan Circle solution to the church parking problem?

3) Do you agree with the Mayor’s stay on the Logan parking plan?

4) Would you state publicly that church members shouldn’t double park and that the Mayor should reinstate the Logan parking plan?

DC Council has already addressed Parking Solutions

Back in July 2005, the DC Council held a hearing on the problems of parking taking a city wide look. Here are some of their solutions:
  • Higher meter rates and residential parking fees
  • Metered loading zones
  • Charging for guest parking passes
  • Place meters in neighborhoods to make non-residents pay (i.e., Georgetown meter system)
  • Create smaller residential parking zones
  • Parking rules CUSTOMIZED for individual neighborhoods
Now the final suggestion seems a bit strange because if the DC Council can say each neighborhood may have different rules on parking why can't the mayor get on board on that? Already the city's various parking zones have different rules governing them. For instance, in Adams Morgan residential parking permits are extended to 8:30 pm or midnight. Georgetown and the Convention Center also have unique parking rules.

Why can't Logan Circle then implement its own rules which have been subjected to ANC, church, resident, DDOT, DPW, and MPD oversight. Every public official or private entity has had a voice in the process. This has been a fair and democratic process where all sides have been heard. Again the churches have gotten all the benefits so far while Logan residents have been screwed.

Dee Hunter: A Danger to Logan Circle

As his 2002 campaign flyer stated Dee Hunter truly is "A New Vision, A New Voice, A New Leader." And what kind of vision, voice, and leader has he been? Well, one that is arrogant enough to exploit his position as ANC commissioner. Mr. Hunter does this by using a government benefit given only to elected officials (members of congress, DC City council members, and ANC commissioners) to park where he sees fit (whether legal or not). That right is only suppose to be used if the elected official is on "official government business."

But for Mr. Hunter government business is such a liberal term. As many of you all know Mr. Hunter, this past Sunday (April 23rd), parked his car on a striped, no parking zone (right below a large no-parking sign) at the corner of 12th Street and Vermont Avenue and then placed an "Official Government Business" sign in his window before going into church for services. The lack of caring for human safety and just plain insensitive nature of Mr. Hunter is outstanding. He truly has found a way to be the "new leader" with a "new vision" by parking in a place that makes crossing the street dangerous for pedestrians. I guess he feels that a strong new leader needs to park in such a way to give his "troops" if you will a test to see if they can cross the street without knowing if a car might be coming. Or he might feel that he needs to set an example for how others can act. Maybe we all should block fire hydrates or cross walkes? Whats the big deal anyhow? Aren't we all important people who need to get somewhere?

Now you might be wondering what exactly did Mr. Hunter have to say for himself? Was this just a one time thing where he really needed to get to church on a Sunday for "Official Government Business"? Not from what he told the Washington Times: "I use it anytime I park anywhere. I go to church. I parked there with it [Sunday] morning." We say, "bravo" to Dee Hunter for being such a complete and utter waste of a politician. Your lack of respect and concern for your fellow human being shows us the type of person you really are. You truly are in a class by yourself.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Local Churches: Anti-Resident?

Like Logan Circle, Shaw residents have also tired to reason with the churches over local issues. The concern for people in the Shaw neighborhood has been economic development. What Shaw residents want to do is bring in new shops and restaurants to revive their local economy. Some of the churches, however, oppose this move. One in particular has been Shiloh Baptist Church which was "going around with petitions, saying (the restraurants) are nightclubs." As one author noted, "Shiloh's petition against the two restaurant liquor licenses is ironic in light of the recent Convention Strategic Plan that came out several months ago. In it, the Mayor detailed his plans for developing the area surrounding the New Convention Center-the 1600 block of 9th street being one of the blocks mentioned. Neighbors specifically named fine-dining establishments-which cannot easily survive without liquor sales- as one of the top business priorities for this neighborhood." Like Logan, Shaw residents experienced the not so truthful way that some of the churches chose to frame the issue. Being divisive and uncooperative appears to be the modus operendi for church leaders.

Not wanting to stoop to their level, the Shaw residents gathered signatures for a petition asking Shiloh Baptist Church not to oppose community development. Here is the Shaw letter:
Rev. Dr. Wallace Charles Smith
Senior Pastor
Shiloh Baptist Church
9th and P Streets NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Rev. Smith,

We are residents of the historic Shaw neighborhood where your church is located, and we have read the articles about the conflict between your church and the proprietors of Queen of Sheba and Vegetate restaurants. We are truly grateful for the presence of Shiloh Baptist Church in Shaw, your concerns for this neighborhood, and your long-standing outreach ministry to Shaw residents. We share your concern for this neighborhood and its development. We view Shiloh Baptist Church as a partner in the redevelopment of Shaw.

However, we are excited to see new businesses coming to the neighborhood, especially sit-down restaurants. We view these restaurants not as negative influences on the neighborhood, but as gathering places where community can be fostered. In our view, they are a great improvement over abandoned buildings.

We respect your church's long history in this neighborhood. Therefore, we request that a representative group from our neighborhood have the chance to meet with you, to hear your concerns about these restaurants, and to hear your vision for the future of Shaw. We would also like to share with you our concerns and hopes for this place we call home. Please contact Rachel Cornwell at 202-***-**** (604 Q Street NW) to make arrangements for a meeting that suits your schedule.
The intent of the letter was to seek compromise with the churches and open up a dialogue but the religious leaders weren't interested. This is not a way to be part of a community. How can the churches claim to be the source of the solution when they prevent economic development and parking solutions? As one poster on the DCist noted, "Perhaps if these churches weren't so divisive and keeping neighborhoods from thriving, residents could be a bit more sympathetic to their wants."

The two restaurants are Vegetate and Queen of Sheba. DCist has done a wonderful job covering this issue as well.

Linda Cropp: Another double talker?

We will try to glean from the comment sections any information that might shed light on various aspects of the Logan Circle parking situation. Here is one person's experience calling DC Council Chairwomen Linda Cropp about the Sunday rally:
I phoned Cropp's office yesterday expressing my anger at (1) her appearance at the pro-church rally that she "stands with the churches" and (2) her refusal to enforce parking laws and the efforts of the ANC to reach a solution. Her aide said that the media selectively chose to report only those words and not her statement that she said "parking laws must be enforced." This is the kind of doublespeak that rightfully tarnishes politicians. Her aide also said that ANC decisions only require "great weight" not wholesale adoption and that no reason must be given to reject an ANC decision. The aide simply said obviously all sides are not happy with the ANC's solution. What does that mean!? Churches are mad they had to obey the law!?
As the caller explains, Cropp's aide is trying to let her boss have it both ways. Its maddening to think that DC residents are going to let their public get away with basically lying to them. Please call Chairwomen Cropp and ask her to explain her words. 202-727-1000.

Keeping the Peace on Parking (Washington Post)

Editorial. April 26, 2006

IN SEVERAL D.C. neighborhoods, Sunday mornings increasingly have become dedicated less to quiet contemplation than to rising temperatures over parking. Hardly a week goes by without residents complaining bitterly about worshipers descending on their streets and hemming in cars by double-parking or blocking fire hydrants and walkways, therefore holding residents captive during religious services. Clergy-led parishioners counter that strict enforcement of parking regulations would impose hardships on congregants and houses of worship that have long-standing and deep ties to the city. In this squabble between religious institutions and neighborhoods there should be a place for reconciliation. Unfortunately, it has yet to be found.

That makes it all the more important that Mayor Anthony A. Williams has stepped in at the eleventh hour to suspend enforcement of new citywide Sunday parking restrictions. He was right to appoint a task force to review the issues and recommend a compromise solution that doesn't penalize residents or worshipers.

There's every reason to believe that such a task force of residents, clergy, merchants, advisory neighborhood commissioners and city officials could produce a plan that works for most people. Of course, the outcome will depend on whether participants approach the task in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation and with an acceptance of reality. Congregations that have been, as the mayor has noted, part of the fabric of the District for generations have worshipers who don't live in the community where they attend services at churches, synagogues, temples and shrines. Yet their exercise of religion should be accommodated. At the same time, again to cite the mayor, D.C. residents should not be penalized "just because they live near a church."

The impasse, and all of the anger and estrangement that come with it, has been allowed to go on for too long. The task force should be quickly formed and put to work. Sunday mornings should be anything but a time for hardships.

News Release on Church Parking Task Force

Authorization Body: DC Mayor Anthony Williams
Legal Power: None?
Task Force makeup: Residents, clergy, merchants, ANCs and District government employees
Mission: Find a "compromise solution on parking that penalizes neither neighborhood residents nor worshippers."

There is a lot here to shock anyone and the first thing that jumps off this news release is that the Mayor wants a "compromise solution" but does not want to penalize anyone. Well, we are sorry to say that ticketing does penalize the person who decides to park illegally. Is the Mayor saying that enforcement is not going to be part of the solution?

In addition, Williams made it seem that the problems in Logan are fixed. He mentioned that 150 spaces have been created and that "similar solutions" can be found in other neighborhoods. we would like to point out to the Mayor that adding parking spaces and not addressing the illegal activity on the part of churches means that there is still a major problem in Logan Circle. For him to have the nerve to say there was a solution in Logan but then tell the police not to ticket churches is wrong and disrepectful to DC residents.

When in doubt create a task force

The parking task force that Mayor Anthony Williams said he would create on Sunday (April 23) is not a new idea and isn't even the first parking task force during the Williams era. For instance, back in May 2004, the Mayor created another task force to study congestion and parking issues in Downtown DC. The entire affair at first started very well with the Mayor holding a press conference before the first task force meeting. Yet, after what looked to be a promising endeavor, the whole thing limped along until no one remembered or cared about the task force.

The new parking task force will most likely meet a similiar fate. This time around, however, the winner clearly is not the residents who have lost their battle to merely ask that the city enforce the laws equally. It should not matter if your religious, poor or rich, white or black, or whatever. What should matter is that once you burden others with your actions and that you do it in an illegal manner that you pay for those actions.

Did Jack Evans Flip-Flop on the parking issue?

We have already commented that Jack Evans is a failed leader when it comes to the parking issue in Logan Circle, but we would also like to point out that he is also inconsistent on the very issue that he ducks and hides from. The following comes from the dcwatch website listing Jack Evans' accomplishments in Logan Circle for the 1999/2000 year.
* Parking Task Force members, convened by Jack, have been reviewing existing regions and working on changes that will create more spaces for residents. Their report will soon be presented to the community. Jack has also supported creative solutions like angle parking where neighbors have called for more space.

* Budget money for additional parking enforcement officers will keep out-of-neighborhood cars off our streets, and Jack is working to secure those funds.
Now compare the request for more parking enforcement officers for the intended purpose to "keep out-of-neighborhood cars off our streets" with his recent statement about the Logan Circle parking issue: "I think the mayor has done the right thing to put together a task force to see if they can try to work this thing out."

What exactly does that mean? Did the right thing? For whom? Not Logan Circle residents who are the people Jack Evans is suppose to care about. Why not mention that the community has worked long and hard to come up with a solution and has already had a task force to look at this issue? I guess he does not know. Being out of touch will do that to a politician.

Jack Evans: What is he doing?

As the Logan Circle representative on the DC Council one would expect that Jack Evans would have been a voice of concern over the parking problems in the community. Instead, he has been laregly absent for the debates. If one checks out Evans website you will find a disscusion on the Lincoln Theater production of "Where Eagles Fly," which ENDED seven (count them 7) days ago!!! No where can you find anything on the Logan Circle parking issue.

Its sad when a person who is suppose to be accountable and responsive to his constituents does not feel the need to
act on their behalf. In fact, Jack Evans has actually worked against Logan Circle residents by endorsing the Mayor's plan to hold off on enforcment despite the fact that the Logan community and churches have reached an agreement.

Does Jack Evans know what is going on in his community? I don't think so. Does he care? It appears not. If you find Jack Evans to be as bad or inept a politician and community leader as we do then please call his office (202) 724-8058 or email him at jackevans@dccouncil.us

This man is not your friend Logan Circle residents

Dee Hunter, an ANC commissioner for the Shaw community, is against enforcing the law and works actively to help the churches evade enforcement of parking laws which would make Logan Circle a safety and happier place to live. Why is that? We are not sure.

Mr. Hunter has been sometimes friendly to Logan residents to plan rude and disrepectful. Take for instance this past Sunday, April 23rd, when he decided he could park his car on a striped, no parking zone (right below a large no-parking sign) at the corner of 12th Street and Vermont Avenue and then placed an "Official Government Business" sign in his window before going to church services. This area just before the intersection is clearly marked as a no-parking zone to provide safety and allow a clear line of sight for on-coming traffic from the intersecting roadway. The fact that a government official would blatantly disregard the safety of the residents and misuse his government status to find closer parking for a personal activity such as going to church is unjustifiable. The fact that he would do this when he sat on the ad-hoc committee addressing this problem and is therefore well aware that parking is legal and plentiful only 2 blocks away is shameful!

Mr. Hunter might say he is for some type of regulation on illegal parking but those are just code words for the status quo. Do not trust him. If you see him in the Logan Circle area ask him why he adds to the problems by illegally parking himself. He is what is wrong with DC and his arrogance to park anywhere he wants shows the disregard he has for the Logan Circle community.

Update: Mr. Hunter, in an April 26th Washington Times article by Amy Doolittle, explains that he abuses his government parking privileges all the time: "I use it anytime I park anywhere. I go to church. I parked there with it [on Sunday] morning." What a great guy and community leader! Please, thank him from the Logan Circle community when you see him.

Logan Circle: How much longer till enforcement occurs?

Ok, so Mayor Williams has placed a moratorium on actually enforcing the law. This goes against any discretionary authority he has. Remember an executive is limited to what the governing laws say he can do and there is nothing in the Constitution, DC Code, or regulations that give Mayor Williams the authority to dismiss a clear DC Council made law that says ALL double parked cars will be given tickets. No exceptioins.

Anyhow, we would like to know if any DC resident has been offered a place on Mayor Williams task force? I have heard nothing about the task force since Sunday so I am a bit puzzled. Where does does the authority come from to create the task force? How about budget? What is its intended purpose? How about organization?

All are reasonable questions that have not been answered by Williams. If anyone knows anything please leave a comment.

Coverage of the Logan Circle Parking Problem: DCist Style

We would like to give thanks to DCist for their excellent coverage of the Logan Circle Parking problem They have made a number of posts on this subject and all have been well written and a benefit for the DC community at large. We would like to provide links so viewers can read the articles and the comments as well.

April 25: Morning Roundup: Angry in Logan Cirlce Editon

April 24: Churchgoers Protest Parking Enforcement
& Troubled Parkers

April 19: Church Parking Enforcement Pushed Back

April 18: Church Parking Showdown Looms

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rally Response from Residents

This comes from a Monday (April 24) press release by the Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations.
At yesterday's rally protesting the enforcement of parking regulations outside of churches, it was announced that the city has agreed to delay such enforcement for at least 4 months while yet another task force studies the issue. It was not immediately clear whether or not the delay impacts Logan Circle.

Shortly thereafter, a memo was sent out from DDOT announcing the delay (see below). An email was then sent on behalf of Logan residents to the Mayor and press protesting such action (see below as well).

Once again, it is recommended that you email city leaders to protest this unnecessary and unreasonable delay. Your comments should be sent to William Howland, Director of DPW, and Michelle Pourciau, Acting Director of DDOT, at the following email addresses:


In addition, the following email addresses should be copied:

insert blockquote

Comments on Legal Action Logan Residents might be able to take

As Logan Residents, we would like to hear comments and suggestions about legal action we could take against the city?

Jack Evans: Too Good For Logan?

As the first post we would like to say that this blog will attempt to bring together the various internet postings on the Logan Circle parking problem and hold elected officials accountable for their actions (or lackof).

The following comes from a discussion thread on DCist about the Logan Circle Parking issue. As Logan's representative on the DC Counci, Jack Evans has done nothing to help his constituents. Read the following post and please call Evans and get him to do his job and actually represent us!

Sean Metcalf (communications director for CM Evans) emailed me today that the CM's position has not changed on enforcement: "Thanks for the email. Councilmember Evans' position has not changed -- The laws of DC should be enforced in full. The DC Council passed these laws and it is the responsibility of the Executive to ensure enforcement is performed." But, I read in the Washington Times: D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, whose district includes Logan Circle, said the mayor's plan to delay enforcement is acceptable. "I think the mayor has done the right thing to put together a task force to see if they can try to work this thing out," he said. Please email him and call his office and ask about the disparity of information and if double parking is acceptable in Georgetown? His number is 724-8058.

Logan Circle Residents Ask Why the Delay?

Mr. Mayor:

We understand that you have once again delayed enforcement of parking regulations against church parishioners for 4 months while a new task force studies the issue, thereby once again breaking the city's promises to local residents and providing greater benefits to out-of-town parishioners and tax-exempt organizations than your local constituents (tax-paying DC residnets).

In this regard, we would like to ask the following:

1) Why is the city creating a new task force when the issue has already been studied for 4 months by a task force of city officials (including police, ANC members and DDOT), church leaders, and residents? Isn't this a blatant disregard of the work and agreements of that task force? Given that your office and the acting DDOT director have gone out of your way to meet on many occasions with local church leaders to discuss this issue but have refused every request to meet with local residents or even have the courtesy to respond to our December 2005 petition that initially raised the issue, will the task force take into account the views of and include participation by affected local residents ... or are the views of churches your only concern?

2) Isn't your office and the Executive Branch violating separation of powers requirements by disregarding lawfully enacted regulations by the DC legislature?

3) Isn't your office violating the separation of church and state requirements and engaging in blatant discrimination by providing this benefit (the right to literally disregard lawfully enacted parking regulations) to a single, select religious group (churches) while actively ticketing and enforcing these same regulations around synagogues, temples and other non-church religious institutions in the city?

4) How do you justify allowing parishioners at Logan churches ... approximately 80% of whom are admittedly not DC residents ... to disregard parking regulations afer residents, DDOT and church leaders have created over 150 new parking spaces in the community for use by parishioners, have extended the DC Circulator, and have begun making arrangements for the use of a local high school's parking lot by parishioners? How is this justified when this morning over 50 "sunday-only" parking spaces sat completely vacant just 2 blocks away from these churches while parishioners continued to park illegally?

5) How do you justify disregard of the safety and welfare of local residents created by the blocking of fire hydrants, intersections, cross-walks, driveways, and so forth by parishioners? Is convenient parking less than 2 blocks from church more important than the health and safety of your constituents?

6) This morning, Dee Hunter -- a neighboring ANC commissioner -- parked his car (DC license plate 338) on a striped, no parking zone (right below a large no-parking sign) at the corner of 12th Street and Vermont Avenue and then placed an "Official Government Business" sign in his window before going to church services. This area just before the intersection is clearly marked as a no-parking zone to provide safety and allow a clear line of sight for on-coming traffic from the intersecting roadway. The fact that a government official would blatantly disregard the safety of our residents and misuse his government status to find closer parking for a personal activity such as going to church is unjustifiable. The fact that he would do this when he sat on the ad-hoc committee addressing this problem and is therefore well aware that parking is legal and plentiful only 2 blocks away is shameful! Is it the policy of your administration that government officials may disregard city laws and abuse their power while engaging in personal activities?

Your prompt response will be greatly appreciated.

Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Regulations

Parking Reversal Angers Residents (Washington Times)

By Amy Doolittle (April 25, 2006)

Logan Circle residents are fuming over D.C. officials' decision to postpone implementing a church-parking plan that residents had spent months negotiating.
A new parking plan in the neighborhood that adds about 150 new spaces by narrowing roads depends on enforcement of double-parking restrictions during church services in Logan Circle.
Without that enforcement, streets will become virtual parking lots, residents say.
"We already did this in Logan Circle," said Christopher Dyer, a commissioner with ANC 2F. "I just spent six months of my time in meetings with churches and city government officials, and we came up with a solution that seems to work. In Logan Circle, we solved the problem, and without the enforcement going on, people are not going to have any incentive at all to not double-park there."
Late last year, a group of residents in Logan Circle petitioned the District to begin enforcing double-parking laws. The group's actions prompted neighborhood officials to form a task force to study the problem and develop solutions.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) responded to the group's recommendations by adding 77 new permanent and 78 Sundays-only parking spaces in the area. DDOT also promised double-parking enforcement.
The new spaces were added by converting parallel parking to angled parking and allowing parking adjacent to the median along Vermont Avenue near 12th street Northwest.
The plan also includes allowing parking adjacent to the median along portions of Rhode Island Avenue on Sundays only. It also converted Vermont Avenue between 12th and Q streets Northwest to a one-way southbound.
The parking plan was implemented last week. DDOT officials said they will finish painting parking space lines this week.
Before the changes, double-parking blocked in neighborhood residents who parked outside their homes. Because of the added spaces, double-parking along those streets now will block car lanes and prohibit vehicles from passing.
Todd D. Lovinger, a Logan Circle resident and attorney who helped organize the effort against the churches, said that cars were parked Sunday illegally near Vermont Avenue Baptist Church and Metropolitan Baptist Church. He said no police officers were seen ticketing those cars.
City officials said last week they would begin enforcing laws against double-parking in two phases -- first in Logan Circle on May 21 and citywide on July 1.
Now, they plan to delay enforcement until at least late August while a task force examines possible solutions throughout the city, a step Logan Circle residents already had taken.
"We already had a task force," said Chris Franks, a Logan Circle resident. "For them to waste time and money to revisit something that's already been studied is disgraceful, when they can spend money on other programs. It's unbelievable."
Double-parking is illegal in the District, but churchgoers have been ignoring the law on Sundays for at least 30 years. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is responsible for parking patrols on the weekends, has not been issuing tickets to violators.
Double-parking carries a $50 fine.
Church officials welcomed D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' decision to delay enforcement in the area.
"There may be further enhancements that can be done," in Logan Circle, said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, who mediated the original Logan Circle task force for the churches. "There may be certain values of what can the government do more to facilitate more public transit options, there may be additional steps that the government can take."
Mr. Williams, a Democrat, said that the new task force will include residents, clergy members and city officials.
Vincent Morris, a spokesman for the mayor, said Mr. Williams delayed the Logan Circle enforcement because he wants to tackle the issue from a citywide perspective.
"It's probably a better approach to develop something citywide instead of just going forth with just one neighborhood," he said.
D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, whose district includes Logan Circle, said the mayor's plan to delay enforcement is acceptable.
"I think the mayor has done the right thing to put together a task force to see if they can try to work this thing out," he said.
The Council voted in July 2002 to exempt itself from its own parking regulations, when on official business, generously defined.
Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairman of the committee that oversees parking in the city, said that she hopes to resolve the church parking issue quickly.
"I'm hoping that it's a short-term task force," she said. "I hope it will be a short-term one and that they will meet often and quickly with a sense of urgency in order to rectify a problem that's universal across the city."

Mayor Postpones Church Parking Crackdown (Washington Post)

By Eric M. Weiss (April 24, 2006)

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has backed off a planned crackdown on double-parking around city churches, instead imposing a moratorium on enforcement until a task force recommends ways to end squabbles between churches and their neighbors, the mayor's office confirmed yesterday.

The moratorium was announced yesterday at a lively Logan Circle rally by the chairman of the mayor's interfaith council, Bishop Michael Kelsey of New Samaritan Baptist Church. He joined dozens of area clergy and hundreds of parishioners, many in their Sunday best, who came out to demonstrate against a parking crackdown. The Williams administration had announced in March that city police would begin ticketing illegally parked cars in May.

The issue has become a contest fraught with racial and class issues, pitting the city's 600 congregations against homeowners, many of them new to the city, who want the city's parking laws enforced.

Every Sunday, large numbers of worshipers descend on neighborhoods around Logan Circle, as well as areas from Capitol Hill to Shaw, parking in front of hydrants or walkways or hemming in other cars by double-parking. Police acknowledge that for years they have basically overlooked the practice, particularly when there is no safety violation. But complaints from residents in Logan Circle have placed the issue high on the agenda of the city's political leaders.

"We want to do something the gentrifiers don't want us to do: Join together," Lorraine C. Miller, president of the D.C. chapter of the NAACP, told the churchgoers who gathered around the statue of Civil War Gen. Thomas A. Logan. Members of different congregations cheered when their pastors took their turn at the microphone.

Miller said the parking issue is the "tip of the iceberg of discontent on how decisions are made."

The Rev. Canon William Barnwell of Washington National Cathedral told the crowd that cracking down on Sunday parking violations would "kill or deeply wound many of our congregations." And he said the city could turn into a "one-class, one-race, gated community that shuts people out rather than letting them in."

Many of the speakers said places of worship have long helped their immediate communities through aid for the needy, day care and other services.

Parking accommodations for a few hours once a week should not be an issue, they said.

D.C. Council Chairman and mayoral candidate Linda W. Cropp (D) told the crowd that she stood with city churches who have long "fed the hungry and clothed the naked."

Afterward, she praised the mayor's plans to form a task force. She said that she and Williams spoke last week about the need to solve the problem through dialogue and that ideas such as using two middle lanes of wide streets for angle parking should be considered.

She said the task force "should try to figure out how to work this out."

Mayoral candidate Michael A. Brown (D) also worked the crowd, handing out a plan that he said would encourage valet parking, the use of public transit and other parking accommodations.

Logan Circle resident Todd Lovinger, who has been active in calling for greater enforcement of parking regulations, called the mayor's moratorium announcement "a disgusting cop-out." He said, "Out-of-town parishioners are getting greater rights than D.C. taxpayers."

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he first heard about the moratorium at church yesterday, not from the mayor or his staff.

At the rally, Mendelson said the parking issue is a problem that needs to be worked out. "What got me here is that the churches feel unwelcome, and that is wrong," he said.

Churches Win Reprieve on Parking (Washington Times)

By Amy Doolittle (April 24, 2006)

D.C. officials said yesterday that they will delay the enforcement of double-parking laws near churches on Sundays until at least late August.
Bishop Michael Kelsey of New Samaritan Baptist Church, chairman of Mayor Anthony A. Williams' Interfaith Council, announced the change at a rally in Logan Circle, where more than 1,000 clergy members and churchgoers were protesting earlier enforcement deadlines.
Mr. Kelsey said the mayor will appoint a task force of residents, city officials and church and community leaders to discuss solutions to the parking shortages near city churches.
The District last week set a deadline of May 21 for Logan Circle and July 1 citywide. Mr. Williams said Wednesday that he had no plans to push back the deadlines further.
Williams spokesman Vincent Morris late yesterday confirmed the mayor's decision to postpone the deadline and his plans for the task force, which could help strike a compromise between residents whose vehicles are frequently blocked on Sundays and churchgoers who face limited parking.
"The mayor feels that with hard work and creativity, we can work out a compromise that satisfies churches and neighborhoods," Mr. Morris said.
Double-parking is illegal in the District, but churchgoers have been ignoring the law on Sundays for at least 30 years. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is responsible for parking patrols on the weekends, has not been issuing tickets to violators.
Double-parking carries a $50 fine.
City officials attempted to resolve the citywide problem first in Logan Circle because of the large number of churches in the Northwest neighborhood and the strained relationship between longtime churchgoers and residents, many of them new to the community.
Officials are adding 77 permanent and 78 Sunday-only parking spaces by reconfiguring markings and allowing parking next to medians.
About 40 D.C. clergy members attended the rally. Parishioners were shuttled to the event in church vans and rented tour buses.
"We won't allow the pharaohs of the nation's capital to impose parking restrictions," said E. Gail Anderson Holness, an elder at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Northwest. "It burdens people to impose parking restrictions."
Others said opposition to double-parking on Sundays is an attempt to push the churches out of the District.
"I find it incredibly hard to believe that any thinking person would purchase a home near a church and think that they can dictate changes," said Chuck Half, 59, a D.C. resident who attends Shiloh Baptist Church in Northwest. "They are trying to force the churches out."
Jared Leland, a lawyer with the Becket Fund, said the organization plans to oppose the parking enforcement on legal grounds.
"The law shouldn't be applied in a way that unfairly burdens churches," he said. "This double-parking law is unconstitutional because it puts an unfair burden on the religious institution."
Todd Lovinger, a Logan Circle resident and lawyer who helped pressure the city to enforce the law, said last week that if the city delays enforcement any longer, he will form a coalition of neighborhood officials, business leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union to bring a lawsuit against the city for giving preference to churches and enforcing the law arbitrarily.