Praise the Lord – for a parking space

Now there’s been a whole flurry of talk(WashTimes, WashPost, even Hill Talk) about church parking in Logan Circle – or more accurately, the lack of legal church parking.

For years, church goers have had an informal grace with the city’s police and residents. Church goers were able to double park on streets, medians, and pretty much wherever they wanted to every Sunday. Police and residents tolerated it because for a long time, there weren’t so many cars, the parishioners kept in line, and last but not least, no one wanted to piss off the powerful churches of DC.

That honeymoon is coming to an end.

Some will say its gentrification – rich newcomers pushing out time-honored institutions. Others might say its racism – white folks trying to push out black folks. But it’s neither. What this parking problem highlights is the seismic shift in DC church demographics – follow the link for more…

Back in the day, when the lax Sunday ticketing first started, you had churches with almost 100% local attendance. You went to the church around the corner. Then, as folks started moving around, black families selling their homes – for a great windfall – to new buyers and then moving out of the city, the churches started to shift from a mainly local pedestrian congregation, to a much more suburban vehicular congregation. Now few older established churches in DC have any significant percentage of their congregation from the local community

So in essence, District churches, especially historically black churches, have gone from representing their neighborhoods to a touchstone for suburbanites to what was, and is no longer, their community. And these suburbanites drive in for Sunday service.

They drive in and park willy-nilly, maybe because they feel they have the right to, maybe because they have physical disabilities and can’t walk far, maybe because they’re just too lazy to search for a spot, and maybe, because parking permits are too cheap, there aren’t enough open spaces. No matter the reason why, I say the police should enforce the law – to a limit.

Cars blocking alleys, fire hydrants, and the like – ticket and tow. Cars double parked not in designated church parking areas – tickets, please. And make designated church parking areas, say the block in front of the church, where cars can be double parked. I’m thinking the Riggs Block of 15th Street as an example.

Compromise and balance – this is the spirit of this city, of religion, of the solution to the Sunday parking woes.

2 Comments so far

  1. Medusa (unregistered) on February 5th, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

    The street which I live on is constantly affected on Sundays by cars double-parked, and nothing is ever done about it. Anytime someone comes to visit I have to remember to tell them not to park on the right side of the street because otherwise they will be blocked in all day. It is annoying and completely unfair.

  2. Jenn L (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 10:43 am

    Being trapped by church double parking on a Sunday remains one of the downsides of living in my neighborhood. Being trapped by double parkers without DC plates boils the blood even more. Asking a church double parker politely to move so you can get out and getting a heated rude remark in return is the worst. Inquiring about the situation to the police and getting a “well, we don’t do anything about it” – priceless.

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