Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Correction:

The post originally suggested in one instance that police issued parking tickets rather than clarifying that DPW issues them.

Street sweeping season begins with a block full of bogus $100 tickets

March 6, 2012 - 09:42 AM
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The offending tickets. (Photo: Heather Rudow)

D.C.'s street sweeping season officially resumed on March 1 with parking enforcement set to start March 12. But one D.C. street already received an unfortunate surprise — $100 parking tickets given in error in Columbia Heights.

The confusion happened on the 600 block of Harvard Street NW a few blocks north of Howard University. Disclosure: I know multiple people who live on the block and began hearing stories of the displeasure early yesterday. These Columbia Heights residents had sought to obey the street sweeping laws and parked on the south side of their street, as local street sweeping signs instructed. Important to note: Parking on this side of the street is normally illegal during daytime hours. The one time it's okay for residents to park here is when the D.C. governments wants to tidy up the north side of the street. Like yesterday, a designated street sweeping day.

But apparently someone didn't tell the local ticketing officers.

Multiple residents received a P159 violation in the early a.m. hours of March 5: No parking/standing in rush hour. The cost is hardly a small one at $100. In January of 2012, the city issued plenty, with 287 cases liable and 137 dismissed. Yesterday I heard reports of several Harvard Street residents discovering the tickets and voicing their displeasure as they prepared for their morning commutes. Three drivers in one household received the tickets.

The Department of Public Works, which administers the street sweeping program, realized the error midway through yesterday. The department's Kevin Twine clarified what happened to residents who queried about the violation:

I wanted to let you know that all of the rush hour tickets that were written on that block(s) will be voided. They were written in error. It is my experience that these tickets can take weeks to be voided. There are some instances where an individual may be notified that their ticket has doubled, only to have them disappear from that person’s record days later after the void has gone through. Please pass my email address along to those who were given the tickets erroneously so that they can contact me if they become alarmed when/if the ticket is still on their record. I certainly apologize for the confusion this may have caused.

DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant confirmed the confusion.

"Street sweeping began March 1, so everyone is getting readjusted," Grant explained to me. 

Grant urged any residents concerned about their tickets written in error to send Kevin Twine a note to help ensure their erroneous tickets are properly voided. She didn't respond to questions about how many residents on the block were estimated to have received tickets, if the city would seek to alert local residents of the bogus tickets, or whether this problem may have also occurred on other blocks in the District. She also apologized for the confusion, however, and acknowledged the mistake.

During the last fiscal year, the city received $92.6 million from its parking tickets, AAA announced this week, for issuing 1.6 million citations. The revenue amounts to more than $10 million what D.C. earned the previous year. Street sweeping, a wise and good program when not responsible for erroneous, expensive tickets, will continue this year until October 31.

Just another day in the world of D.C. transportation, right?

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