Seven weeks after a new civilian parking enforcement squad took to the clogged streets of downtown Washington, the odds against parking illegally there and getting away with it appear to have shortened dramatically.
In November, the 49 "parking control sides" issued almost as many tickets as the D.C., police, and the total number of tickets issued by both was far above the police department's monthly average before the civilian program began.
As a result, according to the new program's administrators, parking meters are producing more revenue than ever, the city's parking violations bureau has been inundated with mail bearing motorist's checks, and there have been reports of an occasionallegal parking space being spotted downtown.
The civilian aides are so efficient that "it's hard to write a ticket these days," said one policeman walking a downtown beat. "You have to get your tickets our early to beat them."
Not even D.C. Police Chief Burtell Jefferson's car has escaped, the chief disclosed yesterdy. The windshield of Jefferson's unmarked cruiser has collected three $5 tickets for overtime parking since the civilian program began, he said, adding,"...I paid the tickets."
The civilian patrol, initiated Oct.23, is the first part of a three-part program launched by the D.C. Department of Transportation to cut down on illegal parking and net the city a projected $14 million in aditional fines annually.
Next month, the city goes into the second and third phases, involving a tougher towing and "booting" operation.
In addition, parking violations cases will no longer be heard by D.C. Superior Court judges but go instead to any of six new hearing officers, who will work for DOT. Motorists also will be allowed for the first time to pay fines with credit cards.
In November, the civilians wrote out 74,395 tickets, only 3,794 fewer
than the police department issued. Together, 152,584 tickets were issued compared to the 110,000 the police had averaged monthly.
All this effort has resulted in a huge backlog of bulging mailbagsin the offece of the Central Violation Bureau at 451 Indiana Ave.NW.
The backlog will not be cleared up for two or three more weeks, said Peter Bergin, chief of the bureau. He and other workers have been working on Saturdays to tackle the problem, he said.
Until the mail has been sifted, exact dollar figures on new revenue will not be readily available. But the enforcement program has clearly brought more money from the 11,000 parking meters around the city. In October 1977, the meters yielded $234,838, compared to $256,908 this year, according to Peter Hairston, chief of the new ticket-writing branch of DOT.
In November, he said, there was a $36,621 increase over last year.
Next month, the city will begin imposing a $50 charge for towing illegally parked cars-and will be towing for a much wider range of violations. At present, only cars in certain rush hour, no-parking zones run the risk of being towed by police. Under the new program, the Department of Transportation also will tow cars that are blocking fire nydrants, crosswalks, intersections and driveways.
At the end of January, the Department will join police in a program of "booting" scofflaws' cars-particularly those with Maryland and Virginia license plates. A boot is a metal device that is attached to a wheel of a car to keep it from being driven away until the owner pays any outstanding tickets.
The new program has come in for scattered critism.
Delivery men have complained of getting tickets for illegal parking when their loading zones have been blocked. Some police officers have criticized the civilians' two-week training course-too short to teach the art of good ticket writing, they say and their lack of authority to void incorrect tickets, thereby burdening citizens with unneccessary trips downtown.
John Brophy, chief of DOT's parking division, has defended the training program as thorough and complete. Civilian aides can void tickets, he said, although the procedure has apparently confused some ticket writers to the point that they are "hesitant and reluctant" to employ it.
The program also has been criticized by those who want to share in its benefits. Shop owners in outlying business areas say they need stepped up parking enforcement, too. And in some neighborhoods, Residents complain about what they say is the lack of enforcement of the new permit parking, rules aimed at exclusing commuters' cars from their streets. CAPTION: Picture 1, Civilian parking patrol's Robert W.Godbee writes ticket for car illegally parked on 15th St.NW. By Joel Richardson-The Washington Post;Picture 2, Bags bearing ticket fines surround clerks. By James M.Thresher-The Washington Post