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UPDATED: Exactly How Illegal It Is To Park In A Street Sweeping Zone? No One Knows.
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UPDATED: Exactly How Illegal It Is To Park In A Street Sweeping Zone? No One Knows.

July 3rd, 2010 by Scott Stern · 8 Comments · Capitol Hill, DC

(Scott Stern/THIH)

Hill listservs were abuzz today with news that the DC Department of Public Works was planning to begin towing cars illegally parked in street sweeping zones and adding a $100 towing charge on top of a $100 fine (it’s actually a $30 fine).   More enforcement of parking violations that screw up traffic might be a good thing, particularly since a recent INRIX study found that in 2009 DC had the fourth worst traffic in the country, up two spots from 2008.

Anyway, the initial report claimed that the new enforcement policy had been confirmed by DC Councilmember  Tommy Wells’ office.  However, in an email to THIH, DPW denied any knowledge of this increased enforcement and speculated that it may have been a proposal by a DC Councilmember.  Of course, DC law already allows DPW to tow cars ticketed for any parking violation so you’re not exactly safe if this report is false. (I have an email in to Wells’ office and will update once I hear from them.)

Parking is always a hot topic and, if the listserv responses were any indication, this could end up a factor in the upcoming Ward 6 Councilmember race between Wells and current ANC 6A Chair Kelvin Robinson (incidentally, THIH is planning full coverage of that race and all of the other local elections).  Of course no one likes bigger fines, but who hasn’t had a trip made longer and immeasurably more frustrating because some genius can’t remember to move their car and ends up blocking half the street? (If you say you haven’t, I can only assume it’s because it made you so upset that you’ve repressed the memory.)

Having been that genius on occasion — this morning, for instance, when I got a ticket for parking in a driveway outside a pet store in NW and the cop wouldn’t accept my “I-was-just running-in-to-get-some-medicine-for-a-rescue- cat-and-was-only-parked-for-two-minutes-and-was-pulled-over-to-the-side-of-the-driveway-so-couldn’t-possibly-have-been-blocking-anyone” explanation (completely true I’ll have you know) — I won’t be particularly happy at the moment I realize I got towed, but I’ll be far happier most days when going a 1/3 mile doesn’t take 30 minutes because the road isn’t blocked.

Late Update: We checked with Tommy Wells’ office above the above and, according to chief of staff Charles Allen, there is currently no fine assessed for neighborhood tows in which a car is towed within a few blocks or simply across the street to get it out of the way. No Councilmember has proposed such a fine, though DPW–is responsible for proposing and implementing any such fines–is considering adding a fine, but nothing been decided or announced.  Furthermore, DPW typically does not impound vehicles towed for blocking street sweeping unless the vehicle already has accumulated tickets, moving violations, or expired registration.  A $100 fine is added to the $30 ticket for street sweeping violations in these situations.

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  • ET

    I parked on Indpendence on the side that got cleaned on Monday – completely forgot about the street cleaning. I got towed – to the other side of the street – and ticketed. So yes they had the ability and did do it – just not all the time.

  • http://brunchandthecity.wordpress.com/ Claudia Holwill

    @ET Did you get the ticket yesterday? If so, you should definitely contest it! Street cleaning was suspended for the holiday: http://dpw.dc.gov/DC/DPW/About+DPW/News+Room/Press+Releases/DPW+Observes+Independence+Day,+Monday,+July+5

  • http://www.twowishes.com Tara

    My mother had this experience last month — towed to the impound lot for a street sweeping violation, with a $100 fee to retrieve the car. No open tickets or other violations, towed only because of the street sweeping.

    And here’s the real kicker: she was parked on the PROPER side of the street! The impound people said we’d have to wait for the mailed ticket and then ask for her $100 back while contesting the ticket. But presumably the error was caught during the photo review process — she never did receive a ticket. Now we have NO idea how to go about seeking a refund of her towing fee. And of course the time, trouble, and stress of visiting the impound lot and fighting for a refund are just a special little bonus.

    How do you make parking enforcement even more of a headache than it already was? Automate it.

  • Kate

    I’ve been towed to the impound lot twice this year, once in April and one in June for being parked on the wrong side of the street on street sweeping day. There have been no other outstanding tickets on the car. So while DPW doesn’t usually do it, they can do it.

  • Amy

    I was JUST towed a few weeks ago for this between 3rd and 4th on East Capitol. I find it totally absurd that a vehicle with no outstanding tickets or violations and up-to-date registration and parking would be towed due to street cleaning alone. To make matters worse, it’s because of the DOZENS of vehicles with out-of-state license plates parked all over the surrounding streets that I had to park a few blocks from my apartment in the first place. It took $130 and 4 hours to get my car out of the impound lot. ABSOLUTELY ABSURD.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    rules is rules. break ‘em, and expect to pay the consequences.

  • Philip

    I’m a reporter at News Channel 8/ABC7 working on a story regarding the towing. I am looking for people who have been towed because of the street cleaning. Anyone willing to talk can email me at pstewart@news8.net.

    Thanks!

  • Mary

    I think it’s a smear campaign by Kelvin Robinson’s people.