Opinion Your Views — 02 May 2013
A parking spot is a parking spot, except when it’s not

To the editor:

Katherine Viar pulled the rug out from under City Hall when she pointed out that its much-vaunted parking study counted illegal spots as parking spaces even though the city tickets motorists who park in them (“City parking study irregularity raises redevelopment concerns in Old Town,” April 4).

Is this a “heads-I-win, tails-you-lose” gambit? Does the city consider these bona fide parking spots when it needs to inflate available parking to put the best face on its waterfront fiasco? Or does the city consider these bona fide parking spots except when ginning up some extra parking ticket revenue a la D.C.’s ubiquitous traffic cameras — sans the veneer of improving safety? Is a parking spot a bona fide parking space only when it suits City Hall’s purpose?

If so, it’s reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts saying, “This means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less.”

Someone that City Hall can’t brush off should ask just exactly what city council means by a bona fide parking space, on the off chance various city agencies — such as the police, planning and zoning, and transportation departments — are operating on divergent definitions. Of course, the cleanest response is to cancel the parking ticket, explaining that it was issued in error and at variance with the usual norms of prosecutorial discretion.

After all, if the police don’t ticket bicyclists who run stop signs, what’s a little prosecutorial discretion over a parking ticket when city planners consider it a bona fide parking space?

City Hall could relax its parking ordinance and allow parking within a foot of the crosswalk in Old Town because of Old Town’s unique circumstances with at least as much facility as “clarifying” away neighbors’ right to petition text amendments. Alternatively, City Hall could redo its parking study and remove all of the illegal parking spaces, overnight compounding the parking problem to a level beyond what the waterfront plan can mitigate.

Folks have a right to know whether this was sleazy, double-dealing sleight-of-hand or just a stupid mistake.

- Dino Drudi
Alexandria

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