Appeal to Councilmember Graham

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Councilmember Graham -

Is the city of DC required to give notice of changes to parking restrictions beyond simply changing the signs?  In particular, is there a process for notifying residents that an un-zoned street is becoming zoned?

I ask because I received two tickets that I do not think I deserved, and I would like to know the law before I contest them.

I moved to the 1400 block of Harvard Street in February.  This block was not zoned when I registered my car.  Sometime in the last few weeks, our block became Zone 1.  I received no notification.  I do not make a habit of checking the parking signs every time I park on my block to make sure they have not changed.

The first notification I received about the change was a parking ticket last Wednesday the 15th of August.  I looked at the signs, and sure enough, they had been changed.  The DMV was already closed for the day, so there was no way to fix this situation, and I do not have off-street parking.

I left a note on the car for the parking enforcement officials, explaining the situation.  I told them that I was a resident of the block, that I had just discovered the change in zoning, and that I was going to the DMV that day.  Then I thanked them for their understanding.

When I returned home after work to apply my new zone 1 parking permit, less than 24 hours after the first ticket, I had another, sitting just above the note I had left.

I know the DMV has a helpful online form for requesting a new parking permit.  Had I known even a few weeks in advance of the change, I would have paid for my new permit online, saving my time, and saving the District’s time.  But because I wasn’t given the courtesy of any notice, I had to take two hours out of my day to go to the DMV.  And I have to take some of your time, and some of the court’s time as I contest these tickets.  From various sources at DDOT and the DMV, I have heard varying measures for zoning a street - anywhere from 15 signatures to 90% of the residents on the street.  My downstairs neighbor was approached about having our street zoned, but no one asked me.  No one informed me it was in progress.

I have been driving for thirteen years.  In that time, I have received six parking tickets.  Five of those have been in the District in the last year and a half.  Four have been in the last four months while my car was parked within fifty feet of my front door.  I understand that we have parking restrictions for a reason, and parking tickets are the way these restrictions are enforced.  But these restrictions were not put in place to persecute District residents.

I appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Me

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