Logan Circle church double-parking crackdown may be on the way

Today the Washington Post ran an article describing an upcoming police crackdown on illegal double-parking in Logan Circle. Chuchgoers from Maryland line the streets with their cars two-deep in that area on Sundays, and increasingly, on other days. When I’ve been driving in that area on the weekend, I’ve always been amazed that people could get away with this in a city that is otherwise zealous about parking enforcement.

caligaridc has been an activist on this subject recently. Go caligaridc!


25 thoughts on “Logan Circle church double-parking crackdown may be on the way”

  1. this issue has aggravated me for YEARS! It amounts to DC Government sanctioning of religion in my opinion, and it proves a pain in the ass!

  2. I admit to being a little torn on the issue – DC does not provide anything resembling adequate parking facilities in that area, among others – if this weren’t a god-related would you feel differently about it?

  3. This is a safety and fairness issue to the residents. If say, the American Legion had members double-parking, I’d be just as amazed that they could get away with it.

  4. And there I return to the point of lack of adequate facilities. I was surprised and not entirely upset about the fact that parishioners were making the best of the piss-poor arrangement provided by the city, and were generally parking in as safe and unobtrusive a manner as possible.

    In my mind, I keep likening it to an imaginary situation involving inadequate social service wherein residents band together to do perform a victimless illegal act that ultimately overcomes the municipal shortcoming, and I’m having a hard time being pissed off at the police for allowing the practice to continue.

    Also, it reeks of overpriviledged NIMBYism, and boy do I hate me some of that.

  5. Further, per the article, this is a 150 year old church/congregation and the double parking has been going on since the 1930s… I’m a little blown away by the idea that the city hasn’t managed to find a solution to this before now. That makes it feel a bit like deer culls being held in newly human-encroached areas.

  6. I’m a little blown away by the idea that the city hasn’t managed to find a solution to this before now.

    Since you seem to be implying that it’s the city’s fault, because it “hasn’t managed to find a solution to this before now”, I’m interested: What would a solution to this look like? How much DC taxpayer money should the city be investing in parking facilities for a bunch of folks who 1) are largely non-DC residents; and because of #1, and because of the church tax-exemption 2) consequently pay no DC taxes. For many decades, these congregations have been able to park illegally.

    Here’s the solution: warn the congregations, perhaps give them a list of private-sector resources (van rentals, private parking lots, etc…), then ticket and tow aggressively.

  7. It’s not solely the city’s responsibility, however there is evidently a 75-year legacy of double-parking for use of this facility, the facility itself is a heck of a historical venue, if in fact it does date back 150 years. Opening the parking lots of public schools might be a good place to start. Working toward compromise and a solution to that will benefit both the local residents and the congregation seems to me to be the right thing to do.

    You seem however to have a solution in mind, you’re hiding behind LJ’s anonymizer, and you’re playing the libertarian AND the NIMBY card, so I reckon this won’t be much of a discussion.

  8. I don’t get where it is the responsibility of the city to ensure that there are adequate off-street parking facilities for the churches. Typically, churches buy land for parking lots or make other arrangements to cater to the needs of their parishioners. Our neighborhood in South Arlington, for instance, has two substantial lots that are vacant 6 days a week, and fill up on Saturday (the Synagogue) or Sunday (the Baptist church).

    Limited parking is often a growth limiter for churches. That’s one reason why megachurches find locations in out-of-the way suburbs.

    My suggestion to the churches would be to find some legal way to accomodate their parishioners. DC has plenty of parking in aggregate that is underused during the weekend. Heck, there’s a huge public surface parking lot where the old DC Convention Center used to be (9th and H St) not terribly far from these churches. It would be a tough walk on a rainy day or for the old, but it would make a very easy shuttle bus run.

  9. It’s not the sole responsibility of the city, however they have fostered an environment where this behaviour is acceptable. To turn around one day and say “as of… oh… next week, after 70 years of doing things this way, you get to figure out how to do things in a completely different way! Have fun!”

    I’m shocked at your reaction to this, Richard. Something lacking desperately in cities these days is a sense of community and I’m gratified to see any municipality make an attempt to foster community. Rather than working to find a way to allow both the churchgoing and the local community to co-exist peacefully, they’re driving a divisive wedge into the situation. That’s really unfortunate.

  10. Judging from the article, it looks like the police, while confused about what message they are sending to the public, are hoping to help the congregations to find a solution:

    The agency, [Bill Rice] said, does not want to begin penalizing congregants without first seeking to create more parking. “We will be working with whomever comes forward,” he said.

    I support their efforts to find a solution to this that balances the needs of the residents who risk getting blocked in every week and the needs of the churchgoers.

    Do you have any suggestions?

  11. Open public school parking lots – yes, I saw the note about liability. Surely there’s greater liability in the form of blocking traffic along several city blocks for hours at a time.
    Provide more *free* or metered public parking in high-density areas of the city. SF is full of metered lots, and SF has excellent public trans – DC lacks affordable public lots and parking spaces in general, and has mediocre public trans.
    Provide better signage for the residents, as suggested in one of the articles. The current clamoring smacks a bit of that fiasco in Adams Morgan a few years ago wherein people were moving into the new luxury condos along 18th street THEN started complaining about the noise and had a number of long-standing clubs shut down. People knew what they were getting into when they moved to Logan Circle, just as they knew what they were getting into when they moved to Adams Morgan. That doesn’t make the current situation right, but it should bloody well reframe it a little.

    I don’t expect to be able to solve the problem – I’m not a city planner. Lots of people get paid lots of money to resolve things like this. It’s the community reaction (LJ and DC) that’s really getting on my tits about this.

  12. I missed the tail-end of this – I haven’t been in that area since they cleared out the site of the old convention center. They’ve paved it and turned it into a parking lot?

  13. Yep, they’ve paved the old Convention Center lot and turned it into a parking lot. It’s bizarrely symmetric; the current site of the new DC convention center used to be mostly a parking lot.

  14. I’m with Richard on this one. If people absolutely *have* to go to a church in DC when they don’t even live in DC, they should find alternative methods on getting there if parking is such an issue.

    After all, people find ways of getting in to DC to work, visit museums and other local sites, go to clubs, etc. by taking the Metro, carpooling, searching for parking lots then walking the distance, and so on without using “my weekly godly good works” as an excuse to break the law and inconvenience others to do so.

    There is no good excuse to do something like that. Find another church!

  15. but the problem is… there ARE adequate facilities. The church purchased blighted properties in an effort to clean up the community. They then razed perfectly good structures that could have been low-income housing and made… wait for it… PARKING LOTS that they don’t utilize, because double and triple parking is so much easier than using the lot.

  16. I live directly opposite the main “offending” church, and am pretty much in the center of a short block. (it’s where a diagonal state street cuts through, so it’s a small block) The parking lots book-end my block. There is a church around the corner, literally, that buses in the paritioners on Sundays, because they don’t have adequate parking, and I also see that they encourage carpooling as well. There ARE ways to do this quietly. The issue isn’t that it’s church-going people violating rules and the city turning a blind eye. It’s larger than that. Emergency vehicles can not get through my street when it’s double parked. Residents that park on the street are trapped on Sundays, unless they move their cars prior to 6AM of wait until after 3PM. Fire hydrants and alleys are blocked. This is a safety issue, as well as an inconvenience.

    In addition, Logan Circle has restaurants, bars and nightclubs that are frequented by the gay community. Parking is STRICLY enforced for patrons of those establishments, regardless of the day of the week. The parents picking up students from the Jewish Day School are ticketed and harrassed by police for waiting at the curb. It goes on.

    I understand that this was once a traditionally black neighborhood. I get it that housing is no longer affordable to most. That does not afford anyone the right to break the law, nor is it a free pass for the city to pick and choose who they will enforce these laws on.

  17. My primary objection to all of this has to do with the lack of generally-available parking in the area – what’s the status of the parking lot down the street? Is it church/private, or is it open to the public at other times?

  18. it’s private. the church owns the property. They have fenced and gated the lots.

    I live in close proximity to the “happenin” places in the area, and on nights with sold out shows at the Black Cat, for instance, there have sometimes been bridge and tunnelers parking in the neighborhood. It’s never more than a mere inconvenience to park a few spaces down from where you normally would. I agree that with the amount of development in the area, that a parking garage would be prudent. However, other than on Sundays and during church events, I rarely hear people complain about parking, and haven’t had issues with it myself.

    It’s the city for fux sake… it’s not the suburbs, you can’t expect miraculous parking availability all the time.

    I think the church could make a KILLING by charging $5 a car on a Friday night… but that probably gets in to zoning issues and such.

  19. It strikes me that the Church and the city would do well to open that parking lot at least in the evenings to support the local community, but there are probably liability issues, and charging for the service would surely do something unpleasant to their tax-exempt status.

    Why is something happening only now? Surely you can’t be the first batch of residents to take issue with the situation. What’s changed this time around?

  20. instead of individually approaching the church and the city’s parking enforcement (which resulted in people being physically threatened, the threat of cars being vandalized if “whitey didn’t shut the fuck up and leave the black neighborhood”, etc.), my neighbor, who is a lawyer, wrangled a petition and very politely asked the city to enforce if the church was not willing to follow the law. A class action lawsuit against the city for discrimination MAY have been mentioned…

  21. You seem however to have a solution in mind

    The last line of the post you were responding to was:

    Here’s the solution: warn the congregations, perhaps give them a list of private-sector resources (van rentals, private parking lots, etc…), then ticket and tow aggressively.

    …you’re hiding behind LJ’s anonymizer

    I don’t have a livejournal account, but for the record my name and obfuscated email account are at the bottom of this post.

    …and you’re playing the libertarian AND the NIMBY card

    I’m not quite sure I understand what “playing the libertarian AND the NIMBY card” means. How is the position that parking laws should be enforced democratically a libertarian position? And how exactly does NIMBYism enter in here?

    …so I reckon this won’t be much of a discussion.

    You may find attacking the argument, not the man, is more conducive to discussion.

    BTW, did you claim upthread that SF has a great public transportation system versus DC? That surprises me; given my (admittedly limited) experience of SF, I wouldn’t have thought that.

    Of course, as someone who lives in SF, you’re probably in a better position to judge such matters. So as a DC resident, I’ll assume that you’re in a better position to say. ‘Cause if I started spouting off about local (SF) issues of which I had no direct experience, I’m afraid I might come out looking like a yammering blowhard.


    Ian Coleman
    ibcoleman gee-mail dot com
    Washington, DC

  22. From August 1990 until June 2005, I lived either in DC or inside the beltway. 10 months ago, I moved to the Bay Area. The largest problem I’ve found with SF’s public transportation is the lack of integration of the many localized transit systems, in contrast with greater DC’s system which suffered from an atrocious lack of coverage and convenience (it would have taken me over 2 hours to commute 8 miles to work by public trans).

    To respond to your orginal comment:
    Since you seem to be implying that it’s the city’s fault, because it “hasn’t managed to find a solution to this before now”, I’m interested: What would a solution to this look like? How much DC taxpayer money should the city be investing in parking facilities for a bunch of folks who 1) are largely non-DC residents; and because of #1, and because of the church tax-exemption 2) consequently pay no DC taxes. For many decades, these congregations have been able to park illegally.

    The city has allowed this situation to be perpetuated for decades and has clearly become complicit in its continued ability to exist. I am not a lawyer I seem to recall that that sort of complicity of behaviour has in the past provided a legal precedent to allow said complicity to continue. It strikes me that the city has an obligation to resolve this situation in a mutually satisfactory way.

    The ‘libertarian’ comment was a reaction to the ‘how many tax dollars’ question. Apart from the fact that many of these offending churchgoers contribute heavily to DC’s tax base by, among other things, patronizing local restaurants following their services, I’ve found libertarian arguments to boil down to “those who can afford to do x are welcome to do x. Everyone else can do without x,” which is just what that sounded like to me.

    I’m not objecting to the notion that the situation is a huge pain in the ass, but I do object to the ‘ticket them and tow them’ attitude seemingly without regard to the largr community and its long-standing traditions.

  23. in the dolores area on sunday and along mission street, there are always cars parked in the median left-turn lane and along the left-turn break in the median on dolores street. they don’t do anything.

    i agree that definitely the gov’t is breeching it’s separation of church & state by sanctioning this activity. and my parents are hypocritical when it comes to their decision of which laws to break and which not to.

    i believe by & large the hypocrites in church sit in the front row. and we had a situation at the church i was bourne into where i saw the ugliness in people brought out and was fully disgusted and i will never forget. my comment is long enough as it is.

    i don’t believe in god… but the one thing that i do like is the public works that our church used to do. soup kitchens, we always support a new family every year that is underprivileged and give them services to get off of their feet. that’s actually how my mum got back on her feet before she married my step-dad. my biological father ruined her financial picture and she was raising three kids solo and working two jobs.

    so yes, yes… get the sh*tty republican hypocrites out of the white house, keep church in separation… but in the grand scheme of things… this blurry line doesn’t bother me as much. they have it in san francisco.

    what bothers me is the much more insidious taking our freedoms one at a time. THAT bothers me. i just drive around the streets in the mission/dolores when i do drive.

    i guess everyone will hate me for saying that but hey, it’s easy when you don’t live in DC, right? i know, you loose one front, loose another.

    but i’m focusing my energies on a new presidency and fighting things like the chip they want to put in our passport. that’s unencrypted chip, too. so anyone with a reader will be able to scan your passport if they are within range.

    can i say how bad that is? these chips will be implemented in oct. 2006. and mandatory.

    some 12-year old in montana will hack that algorithm, then steal SSNs and start buying video games and hella lot of acne medicine or some shite. this is much more on my mind than everything. we’re selling our freedom down the toilet in the name of security.

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