THE STREET-WISE MOTORIST in Washington is fast learning that, as of this week, an illegally parked car just might not stay parked for all that long. Instead, it may well be towed off to an impoundment lot, to the tune of a new $50 towing fee plus a parking fine. Things got rolling on Monday, when 100 cars were hauled off; 200 more were close calls -- tagged with orange "Tow" signs but saved by their drivers before the tow trucks arrived. And on Tuesday, twice as many cars were taken away. While we can sympathize with the frustrations of anyone finding his car gone and not knowing who took it where, motorists and pedestrains alike should appreciate the latest efforts by transportation officials to unclog the streets -- and sidewalks -- of parked vehicles. While they're at it, here are some suggestions for the enforcers:
The crackdown shouldn't be limited merely to those vehicles that are left in illegal curbside spaces around town. Some of the nerviest scofflaws are those who double-park, an action that not only blocks traffic, but also seals in other illegally parked cars. And perhaps authorities can find a special, super-secret hiding place for all triple-parked vehicles. Also, at the end of this month, when new diplomatic immunity rules take effect, the ticket-tow-and-boot crews should make sure to include all eligible scofflaw-DPLs in these new rites of enforcement. For that matter, there are plenty of non-diplomatic (un -diplomatic, really) limousines that should be bagged as well.
And how about all those delivery vehicles that seem to be allergic to curbs? Of course, deliveries need to be made -- but from double-parks in rush hour? And couldn't more taxis pull over all the way before taking on or letting off passengers? Indeed, if more illegally parked cars are towed out of loading zones from now on, there should be more room for deliveries and cabs.
So cheers to the blue-suited civilians who are peppering the town with some 3,500 parking tickets a day, as well as to the boot-bucklers who are about to expand their program that immobilizes cars of motorists with four or more outstanding parking tickets. Once the District of Columbia gets a reputation for no-nonsense enforcement of parking rules, at least those scofflaws who continue to challenge the laws will begin to know where to look first when their cars are missing -- and how much it may cost them to get back behind the wheel.