Parking Mad

Photo by Page Evans

Racing out the door at 7:35 this morning to get my 11-year-old to school, I see something pink fluttering on my windshield. 

“Don’t tell me that’s a ticket,” I growl, teeth clenched. “If that parking lady has given me another ticket...There’s no way.”

(Photo by: Page Evans)

I get out my iPhone to snap a few shots, proving I am in front of the sign, not behind it. I’m legally parked--in front of my house, no less. My daughter, hunched over with a 50-pound backpack, motions for me to unlock the door, but I’m clicking away, trying to show all angles of the sign in relation to my car.

“Mommy, please. We’re going to be late.”

I harrumph and get in the car. “I can’t believe this has happened again! Grrrrr. I was parked in front of the sign. Can you believe it!”

Yesterday afternoon when I parked my car on P Street, I made sure to be at least a few inches in front of the EMERGENCY NO PARKING sign. The sign has been there for months, the result of a construction job on the block. Basically there’s a space between two signs where you can’t park between 7am and 7pm. While that’s been inconvenient for neighbors, I don’t begrudge the construction. People need to park somewhere when working on a renovation. And the workers are nice. The few times I have been in their space, they’ve politely knocked on my door and I’ve moved my car immediately.

Last month the same parking enforcer gave me a ticket in the same place. That time my car jutted past the sign by about four inches.  I’d meant to contest the $50 ticket, but before I knew it, it had doubled. Now I owe $100. I’m planning on paying that. But then today happened.

Ugh.

“Mommy, calm down. You’re not doing any good talking about it. Can you put on 99.5?”

I clear my throat, “Please?”

She lets out a sigh, like she’s dealing with someone who’s just escaped from a rubber room. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t mind being in one right about now.

Please could you turn on 99.5, Mommy.”

Sometimes tickets are the price we pay for living here. And I’m no rose when it comes to parking. I’ve racked up my fair share of fairly issued tickets. I also know these government workers are doing their jobs. But couldn’t there be a little more common sense or just plain empathy involved in the process? Seriously, two inches over a line? What about the price we pay when we’ve been unfairly ticketed? Just before Christmas, the same officer (whose name is at the bottom of the citation) ticketed me for not having my Zone 2 sticker adhered to the windshield. I had not scraped off the previous sticker, and adding a new one would have been in my line of vision. Still, the sticker was clearly visible, resting peacefully on my dash board. I tried telling the enforcer that when I saw her pulled over in the the tell-tale white compact DC Parking vehicle.

“Excuse me, are you Officer G_____?” I asked with all the politeness I could muster.

“Yes.”

“Well, you just gave me a ticket for not having my parking sticker attached to the windshield.”

She nods as I babble on. “I’m trying to get to a gas station where they have one of those scraper-thingies, but in the meantime, could you please not ticket me? I live right here and I’m legal. I promise.”

 A few days later, I got another ticket for the same offense. And in the comment section, she’d typed, “Vehicle unoccupied.”  Vehicle not occupied? Of course I wasn’t in the vehicle. I don’t live in my car. That’s what I wrote in a letter sent on December 26, 2011 to the Department of Adjudication when I contested the tickets. I just checked online and see that two $50 tickets have not been dismissed. Which brings me to a grand total of $250 owed to the DC Government. I would contest again, but am now afraid I’ll get booted in the meantime. 

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but it seems this particular enforcer is out to get me. 

What are the rates for a rubber room these days? I’m sure they are less than all the money I’m forking over to the DC Department of Treasury.

 

 

 

0 Comments For This Article

das

i feel your frustration page as i am sure most dc residents do. i read about a month ago that the city collected a revenue of $80 million in parking ticket in 2011!! most people do not have the time or patience to go through the dc legal system and contest these tickets so they just pay them. if you find a rubber room with a good rate, please share with us!

Anonymous

As someone who has contested tickets to no avail, trust me...save your valuable time and pay the tickets before they double (THAT'S a whole other subject!). From what I've seen, people contesting tickets in DC rarely actually win - they just become more frustrated with the system. My advice is to either secure a permanent parking place (I know) or get in a legal place, leave your car there and cab everywhere you don't actually require a car for toting purchases! The value of a permanent parking place as part of a real estate transaction here is gold!

And the ticket revenue? Too much of a good thing for DC...NOT going away - especially when they can get away with DOUBLING revenue for people who are hopping mad and think they'll contest, then - oops - miss the due date! Drink the coolaid...it's less stressful.

Anonymous

I also live in Georgetown on O Street. I got a ticket about a year ago because I had put on my Registration Sticker and Inspection Sticker on the Passenger Side instead of the Driver Side. I did it because at the time it showed a picture of where to affix the stickers but no description where to place them. As well it makes more sense to have the stickers out of the line of site of the driver. I received two $50 tickets in a week for "Failure to Properly Affix Registration." After the second ticket I got a razor and switched them. How can you possibly give me a ticket after I got my car inspected, registered, paid all my fees and had them visible on my windows. I contested them and won but that should have been a warning not a ticket.

Anonymous

BTW...See that little red line on the curb? That's your mark for being 'legally' parked. I know, totally irritating.

Anonymous

FYI also don't waste your call to report a broken meter: I could not get coins to go inside. so called. Results: there is a section in parking fines, my guess, that has a check the broken meter squad....of course they did, and of course THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT....
Would you scam a parking meter for $2: ??????

Anonymous

I'll bet you would avoid the ticket if you had a license plate with a notation that you were the FDC Council Member from Ward 2.

Anonymous

Don"t even get me started on the unfairness of the ticketing in this neighborhood. I am living in the midst of the O and P street construction zone where the Emergency No Parking signs change daily and the ticketers seem to relish catching residents unaware. I parked in the evening in a legal spot in front of my house where no ENP sign was posted and emerged in the morning to find a sign for that day and a ticket. Contested it and was denied. Also, I was parked at a 15 minute school pick-up and drop-off zone on O Street across from my son's pre-school and was walking across the street to pick up my son, when a ticketer drove up behind me and gave me a ticket. I was furious and showed her that I had just parked and that I was going to pick-up and had been there for no more than a minute. She said she would rip up the ticket, but it is still considered an open ticket Ugh!!!!

Jonathan

Page - I feel your pain. Having racked up $300 plus in tickets in 2010, my anger reached a boiling point. My sole 2011 New Year's Resolution was going 12 months without a ticket. It had nothing to do with the money - I simply refuse to provide income to a system that is so mean-spirited and stacked against citizens.

I've passed the 12 month mark, but it's taken very conservative parking habits. The bottom line is that parking enforcement officers have strict quotas to meet, and they will not show any mercy or common sense until their quotas are met (if then). One time I had the audacity to park at 6:27pm in a space reserved for Embassy employees until 6:30pm. I got a ticket at 6:29pm. I could understand if I had parked in a rush hour lane and blocked traffic, but it's obvious that no Embassy staff were going to park there between 6:25 and 6:30pm.

Having worked for several years at a law enforcement agency, what really gets to me about the parking situation is the blatant use of regulations as a cash cow. Laws are there to protect citizens and make the chaos of modern cities somewhat orderly. Treating citizens like criminals for the slightest infraction distracts from very real problems and undermines trust in government.

Amy Porter Stroh

As a fellow Georgetown resident, I can completely relate to your frustration. I'm convinced the "parking police" hide in bushes and put up temporary "no parking signs" AFTER we have parked in legal spaces. The system is not on our side, because it's their word against ours. That said, I must admit I did get a good laugh or two (at your expense - sorry) from your piece. Especially, the "vehicle unoccupied" notation... Since there's no winning this futile battle, we may as well commiserate. Thanks for sharing!

Count Olenska

Rest assured this practice is not limited to Georgetown. Went to a 5:15 pm movie at E Street Cinema on a recent Friday night. Parked legally on 10th St around 4:45 pm in a 2 hour zone which is stated (per street sign) to be in effect from 7AM to 6:30pm and paid the appropriate fee and put the ticket in the right place. Came out of the movie around 7:30pm and found a parking violation ticket on the car. Time on ticket: 6:41pm. Of course the street sign also stated that there was no time limit between 6:30pm to 10pm. Query: what happens to the person who parks at 10:01pm.

Anonymous

I once got a ticket on N Street for parking in a spot that was No Parling on Sundays from 8am-2pm (in front of a church). I pulled into the stop after 3pm, and I received a ticket issued, according to the ticket itselft, at 3:30pm. The ticket even said, no parking 8am-2pm, and then said time issued 3:30pm. Duh! It was not illegal to park there AFTER 2pm...I even wrote a letter on this one and was still denied. This was not even a question of a technical violation (parking a few minutes before permitted, or an inch or two over), but parking at time when it was clearly allowed and the ticket was on its face inconsistent and still no relief. Outrageous.