Commuter parking bans have squeezes as many as 12,000 suburban cars off the streets of eight Washington residential neighborhoods, D.C. transportion director Douglas N. Schneider Jr. disclosed yesterday.
Schneider and Assistant Police Chief Bernard Crooke told a D.C. City Council hearing that the penalty for violating the parking ban should be doubled, from $5 to $10.
"The $5 collateral is not enough to discourage people from taking their chances," Crooke told the council's transportation committee. The penalty is set by Superior Court judges, and Crooke said a committee of judges is now considering increases.
Schneider, whose department administers the parking program, said nonresident parking for more than two hours is now banned on 784 city blocks, with an extension of the ban to another 450 blocks now in process.
That represents about 10 percent of an estimated 10,000 blocks of street space in the city.
Schneider said a further expansion to another 500 blocks is expected. "That will be about it, I think," he said.
"So far, we feel we have displaced over 12,000 commuter cars, and hopefully changed their (travel) habits," Schneider said. "It's worked well, and we don't have any major problems."
Council member Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) complained that enforcement of the ban is spotty. "The success of the whole program depends upon its enforcement," she told Schneider.
Both Schneider and Crooker said enforcement would be stepped up when the City Council enacts a mayoral proposal to hire a squad of civilian ticket writers and hearing officers, to replace judges.
Crooke, recently promoted to assistant chief, said the police department had stepped up its enforcement of parking laws in the past several weeks.
Council member Hilda Mason (State-hood-At Large), whose home is in one of the parking-ban neighborhoods, Shepherd Park, said a Maryland car was parked in front of her home for several days without being ticketed. "Have we established something we can't enforce?" she asked.
"No, you haven't," Crooke replied. "But if the program is expanded much further, we won't be able to enforce it at the level we are enforcing it now."
Because the violation shown on the ticket is "disobeying and official sign," a common offense, there are no statistics showing how many tickets have been issued in the parking-ban areas, Crooke said.
Neighborhoods currently covered by the ban are Shepherd Park, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Friendship Heights, Gateway (near Fort Lincoln), Adams-Morgan, West End-Foggy bottom and East Capitol Street near the Maryland line.
The Council committee, heded by Jerry A Moore Jr. (R-At Large) is considering several possible administrative changes in the parking program.