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Churches told they have a friend in Fenty on parking woes

Ann Marimow

The debate before a coalition of Baptist ministers Monday afternoon was designed to air differences between the candidates for the D.C. Council chairman's post -- council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large) and former council member Vincent Orange.

The discussion before the Missionary Baptist Ministers' Conference of D.C. quickly turned heated, with pointed questions from the Rev. George C. Gilbert and other members of the coalition on property taxes, same-sex marriage and parking. Yes, parking, specifically tickets issued to churchgoers on Sundays.

Much of the pastors' ire was directed at the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), which the congregations contend has been more aggressive about issuing tickets to those who double-park during services. When the talk turned particularly tough, one of the group's leaders insisted that the pastors have a sympathetic ear in the mayor's office.

"Be nice!" one pastor called out, gesturing toward a woman dressed in a pink blazer who sat with them in the sanctuary of Trinidad Baptist Church on Benning Road.

The woman was Blondine Hughes, a Fenty volunteer who worked in the mayor's satellite office when he was a Ward 4 council member. Hughes said she regularly stops by the group's meetings to keep up with the issues of the day.

Hughes collected a half-dozen parking tickets from the pastors Monday afternoon and said she planned to hand them over to the mayor.

"The mayor doesn't know people are being ticketed like this," said Hughes, who works for Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee as a coordinator for communications.

When it comes to parking tickets, the church leaders also found a sympathetic ear in Brown and Orange.

Brown, whose mother is a minister, said parking enforcement appears more aggressive on Sundays in the neighborhoods around 16th Street NW that attract large numbers of worshipers.

"When I go to U Street or Georgetown, I don't see the same aggressiveness," Brown said. "We shouldn't drive our churches out because of parking."

Orange also said parking restrictions should be relaxed on Sundays, but that it would be imperative to find an alternate source of revenue.

By Ann Marimow  |  June 28, 2010; 5:32 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , Ann E. Marimow , Church and State , D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty  
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Why should they have any special exemptions? The vast majority of worshippers come from Maryland anyway. If I lived around a church and paid DC property taxes and couldn't find parking on a Sunday morning because a bunch of people from Maryland came into DC to go to church, I'd be hopping mad. If the congregation lives in Maryland then move the church to Maryland. Neighborhoods change--accept it and move on--or out as the case may be.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | June 28, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course they have a friend in Fenty--until September 16, 2010. Enjoy fewer parking restrictions for the next 2.5 months, folks!

Posted by: schooletal | June 28, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: candycane1 | June 28, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller, I agree with you. We as D.C. residents pay high taxes to live here and the churches are tax exempt and their members mostly live in Maryland. I get into this conversation with a relative living in Montgomery County, but she attends a church on Capital Hill in Northeast. I tell all the time to find her a church out in Silver Spring to attend because she may work in D.C., she doesn't pay District taxes out of her pay check. The her taxes taking out of her check goes to the feds and Montgomery county governments, not the District. Good riddance to these church worshipers from Maryland and the Virginia. Because you were born in D.C. and no longer live, vote, and pay taxes no longer qualify you as a D.C. resident.

Posted by: Ward4DC | June 29, 2010 3:25 AM | Report abuse

its pretty obvious that urbandweller and ward4dc dont attend church....

Posted by: ilovedip81 | June 29, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

All these DC government employees who mysteriously all take breaks in order to tote the party line at all of these events is sickening...Hatch Act doesn't mean a thing to them, who will enforce it...Peter Nickles, he has been politicking for his god-son Mr. Fenty as well, all while on the government dime...THIS REGIME CAN'T GET OUT OF DC fast enough...COME ON SEPTEMBER 14.

Posted by: lacairaine | June 29, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

The title should read African American churches have a Friend. The DC cops are very busy writing tickets near churches on Sunday morning in my neighborhood. Only its the churches names isn't in English, If your church has Spanish, Chinese, or even Amharic no doubleing parking for you.

Posted by: tianyisun | June 29, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

To give church goes preferential treatment when it comes to parking enforcement is unlawful. Double Parking is illegal everywhere unless otherwise posted. Double parking is a disruption to the free flow of traffic, particularly on major roadways.

I am all for freedom of religion, but that doesn't translate to freedom to violate the law and impede the free flow of traffic.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 29, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

It is really easy for at-large candidates such as Fenty, Brown, Orange (and presumably Cray) to take this on. However, it is the Ward councilmembers who have to deal with the fallout on both sides of the issues.

Why not just have rules that everyone lives by, with no exceptions or double standards?

Posted by: LukasWP | June 29, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs to get over aren't as important as you all think you are.

And yes, DC issues tons of tickets every weekend to the lilly white church goers at my nearby church in Georgetown.

There is nothing more infuriating than going out to your legally street parked car Sunday morning and not being able to go anywhere for hours because some self obsessed person thought their time was more important than yours.

There are certain areas you can't even drive through on Capital Hill Sundays because you have double parkers on both sides of the street, leaving what was a 4 lane street with a narrow lane down the middle, and yes, if you look at the lic plates, a solid majority are from MD.

Posted by: Nosh1 | June 29, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't care where you're from or WHAT you've come in to D.C. to do... Don't double park or block traffic, period.

Churchgoers shouldn't get any more consideration than concert-goers or Capitals fans. The city is not obligated to pander to the wishes of religious establishments.

I shouldn't have to point out the blatant irony of CHURCH-goers (who presumably go to these services to learn about morals, etc.) breaking the LAW to do so.

If you don't park legally, prepare to face the consequences - and for GOD'S sake don't complain about something you have complete control over.

Posted by: Josh_C | June 29, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I hope WaPo follows up and reports on where Fenty stands on this issue. He has been all over the place on it as far as I can tell. I don't have many gripes about living in DC, but this is my biggest issue. If he allows for relaxed parking restrictions on these folks coming in from Maryland for church services, he will not get my vote. I had no doubt that I would be voting for him before this article came out. Now it is certainly in limbo.

Posted by: alexmullin | June 29, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The city needs to ticket and tow every single double parked car, no matter where, no matter when.

Posted by: hoos3014 | June 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

When something is already wrong, there is not need to vote on!!! DC repent!!!

DC Baptist Pastor Dennis Wiley, you lie!!! Repent openly before the church or leave! This is the message from Your Master Jesus Christ

homosexuality is sin, you do not have to be a theologian to read the bible and understand what the bible is saying about homosexuality!

No one who is immoral or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexua...l, won't have a share in the blessings of God's kingdom? 1Corinthians 6:9

homosexuality is sin!!! DC Baptist members, be behind sister Yvonne Moore and resist the devil until the end, Your pastors are wrong! See More :

Posted by: joelinda1983 | June 29, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Wheres' Rev. Sharpton, Rev. Willie Wilson, Rev. Jackson, and whomso ever else? If the oldest church in Georgetown for AA is not having problems when it comes to parking then everyone else needs to pray on it. Let's be real...they held the meeting at Trinidad Baptist...parking is abundance compared to the actual parishoners who attend the church. If they wanted bring focus to the cause...have the meeting at the churches that are actually feeling brunt. It is not the sunday-worship attendees that are driving w-folks up the wall. It is when we funeralize and when the occasional gospel concert comes to fruition. That is when the w-folks get their shouts on...and it is not for the Saviour!!!

To those who feel that churches are for neighborhood folks....then prove me wrong by attending the neighborhood church. It would be quite neighborly of you w-folks. Just saying we ain't got the synagogues in the city complaining that their neighbors are mad about the double-parking.

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 29, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Those who park illegally - including church-goers - should be ticketed and towed. End of story.

Posted by: ashafer_usa | June 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

While parking may be in abundance in NE, it doesn't mean that the churchgoers don't find a way to still abuse it. In my NE neighborhood, despite the fact that there is quite a lot of parking within a few blocks of the largest churches, services feature double parking, parking in crosswalks and partway into intersections, parking too close to fire hydrants, etc., every Sunday and certain weeknights. Not only do they feel the need to drive from Maryland to DC for church (the Metro is less than 1 block from one of these churches and 3 from 2 others), but they can't even be inconvenienced to walk from a legal parking spot.

It doesn't matter whether I or anyone else go to church, we are law-abiding citizens who would expect to be fined for the same illegal behavior. You don't get an exemption from the rules of civility and decency to attend church. Beware of that self-righteousness...I seem to remember there be something about a fall.

Most of the people I know who do go to church AND live in the District walk or take public transportation to church. Which would be why (a) the complaints are about Maryland and VA churchgoers; and (b) no one complains about churches with mostly local congregations. There were several churches near my previous home on near Capitol Hill, and parking was typically the most plentiful on Sunday late morning/early afternoon. Meanwhile, in my new NE 'hood, I had to dodge double-parked cars on both sides of RI Ave. at Mt. Cavalry to get down the street late last Wednesday, despite plentiful parking just over 1 block away. Stay classy!

These churches really should move if such a large part of their congregation no longer lives in the area. They know they annoy the area residents, but it's too sweet of a deal for them. They get to suck the city services of DC for absolutely taxes from the church, no taxes from the congregants, nothing but using our services and running back to the burbs.

Posted by: MsD2 | June 29, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I see it is BAsh The church Parkers today, huh? Posters with their overexaggeratting and such.....

The gentrification continues...

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 29, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

People who go to church tend to be uneducated and mildly retarded.

Posted by: kenk3 | June 29, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Seperation of Church and State?

Posted by: mossmillennium | June 29, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

If you double park you should get a ticket. All the more reason to tax the churches for using govt and public resources, blatently disregarding the law and preaching hate toward others. AA pastors should replace the 'N' word in their rants against gays and see how it sounds to them.

Posted by: lsf07 | June 29, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

There is no need for double parking. If you can't find a spot next to your church, either leave earlier or get off your a$$ and walk -- most could use it.

If we are going to rightfully get after the churchgoers for their parking abuses, then the city needs to ticket and hold responsible the police (off-duty and on) who park near their stations. I use to live near two churches and a police station. BY FAR the worst violators of all parking laws were the po-po.

Posted by: bayma1 | June 29, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The mean-spirited nastiness here is incredible.

Many of the churches provide services to the community. My church is open for AA meetings, community gatherings; we operate a day care - at a modest fee and free to those who can't pay; we have Boy/Girl Scouts, as well as food and clothing drives for the needy (you know, those people you step around and turn your nonses up at while you're walking from your overpriced condo to Starbuck's).

Get a grip and get over yourselves, especially you gentrifying neo-urbanists. The neighborhood isn't going to change just becuase YOU moved in. You're not that important. The churches were there first.

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 29, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse


As far as I can tell, no one here was complaining about the churches providing services to the community.

They were (rightfully) complaining about churchgoers breaking the law and parking their vehicles illegally. What, may I ask, is so "mean spirited" about following the rules?

No one mentioned anything about wanting the neighborhood to change "just because they moved in" - seems to me all they want is for the existing regulations regarding parking to simply be enforced for once.

The churches were there first? You're right. Okay, and the parking regulations were there before those people illegally parked last Sunday. Fair is fair.

Posted by: Josh_C | June 30, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Typical "newbies" always want things to go their way, and they are the new kids on the block. Leave these church folks alone.

Posted by: fivetogo | June 30, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The bottom line is this. Illegal parking is ILLEGAL parking. Blocking the right of way in neighborhoods could prohibit emergency services from getting to where they need to go and neighbors capability to move about freely. Particularly those blocked in. This is a dangerous practice that should never be coddled by any government. I know of no community service non-profit that are afforded this allowance, so to should churches not be afforded it.

It is not hatred of church people, it is a healthy respect for the law.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 30, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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