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.