Beating a dead horse: Churches and parking

Okay I read the following from the Logan Circle listserv and got angry. Now before you read let me tell you what was going through my mind. There are Christians and there are “Church Folk”. “Church Folk” are the agents of the Devil undermining the work of the Almighty. They call themselves christians but harbor within them enough hate, spite, uncharitablity towards their fellow man and self-centeredness to share.

Is the John Wesley AME Zion Church at 14th and Corcoran one of the churches that is part of the discussion with the ad hoc committee on parking?
I just had a really bizarre experience this morning when my car was blocked in by double parkers on 14th street. After about 40 minutes and asking 5 different people in the church vestibule to please move the cars double parked and blocking me in, it was pretty clear that no one was going to move until services were over.
The white Hyundai DC plate BW0830 that was double parked directly beside me never did move.
Luckily another neighbor who was parked behind me (legally) came by. He was not blocked in, and was able to get out. As he was trying to get out, amazingly, another church goer, A gold Mercedes, MD license MNV622 pulled up to double park next to him to block him in. I tried to explain that he was leaving and was trying to get out and the passenger in the Mercedes started yelling that this is her church and she’ll park “wherever she wants” The Mercedes driver finally backed up enough so the legally parked car behind me could continue to try and get out.
After helping direct the guy behind me out so he didn’t bump the double parked white Hyundai beside me, this churchgoer in the Mercedes slid into the just vacated space behind me. Luckily a very nice elderly came out and moved her double parked Kia Sportage which was in front of the double parked Hyundai and I managed to squeeze out.
The irony is that even though I explained that I was trying to get home from the gym in time to change because I was doing the reading today at my own church, the level of hostility from the churchgoers was pretty palpable.
I did call both 311 then 911 when the Mercedes was so aggressive, but no one from the police came, and there were no warning notices on the double parked cars. Looking around I could see legal spaces available, and just across the street they could have instead double parked in front of the construction at 14th and Q without blocking anyone in. They also had some sort of attendant standing there the whole time at the parking lot they use at 14th and Corcoran. He identified himself as a retired pastor of the church and would do nothing to try and get the cars moved.
Can someone remind me of the status of enforcement of parking laws and whether this particular church is subject to whatever compromise was worked out?

19 thoughts on “Beating a dead horse: Churches and parking”

  1. Beat that dead horse… cause no matter if your Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, or any other of a zillion religious flavors you still must a) follow the traffic laws in our city and b) not be an ass to fellow citizens just because you think its your holy, church-going right.

    That was a nice touch in publishing the mean people’s license plates. Public humiliation is a great tool in the war on stupidity.

  2. At my old apartment building, my husband and I left to go grocery shopping on Sunday morning. We returned to find a churchgoer parked in our rented parking space behind our building clearly evident as residential parking and marked as a tow away zone. When the churchgoer finally returned to move their car, their sense of entitlement to park in the space we had paid for, was unbelievable. Would these suburbanites feel free to pull into someone’s driveway or garage?

    Mari, missed you at the Blagden Alley meeting.

  3. It is really offensive. If you’re coming from the suburbs, use the metro like the rest of us. If you do drive, park legally, even if it’s a few blocks away. Going to church isn’t an excuse to break the law…and be an ass about it.

  4. As a long time church-goer in the Logan Circle Neighborhood, I read this posting and had two thoughts. First, some people are rude, whether they are church-goers or not. Second, I couldn’t help wondering if the new homeowners in these neighborhoods bothered to look around before they purchased these properties. I attend church at the intersection of Vermont Ave and R street, NW, where there are three (3) large black churches each within one block of each other. When gentrifiers came along to whitewash this historically black neighborhood (filled with black churches), did it not occur to you that on Sundays people would be attending these churches.

    You’re right. No one should double park and block your car, but its hard to sympathize with you because you assumed the risk.

  5. Anon (one or both of you), if you would like your viewpoints to remain on the site, I would strongly suggest you initial or use a name with your posts. Mari does not take kindly to anon posts.

    To the last Anon posting. I think using race in the parking discussion is just an attempt to bait both sides and side step the issue. You’re welcome to your viewpoint, but I consider your opinion offensive… in addition to being incorrect about the history of the neighborhoods. Neighborhoods, communities and people change. No one group, nationality, ethnicity or race has a monopoly on an area forever. You may do well to read up on the history of the land of the District to learn about everyone from the Native Americans to the present day residents that have occupied the land at some point in time.

    Last point, promise. To the “you should have known better” argument about moving around here to know that laws are broken… how would you have liked to moved to the suburbs, only to find that many lawn service people come into the neighborhood to mow neighbors’ lawns at 5 AM every saturday? There are some things that you assume just wont happen regularly when you choose a neighborhood to live in. The bare minimum of what you expect is that the community upholds the laws as they stand. I doubt that anyone expected no one to go to church. I imagine, though, that they expected to be able to come and go freely from their residence.

  6. I suggest that those who haven’t already, please contact the poor soul at the DC Department of Transportation who is collecting public comment on this issue. Her phone number and email adddress is in the lnk below.

    I sometimes get frustrated in my job…but I can’t imagine hers!

    Washington, DC) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites public comments on proposals to increase parking spaces adjacent to and around religious congregations and to step up enforcement against parking violations. The enforcement will start in late April.,a,1252,q,635512,ddotNav_GID,1610.asp

  7. I’ve already deleted one and the next anonymous comment gets deleted. If you can’t figure out how to ID your post via Blogger just end your statement with some name as so.
    Now I live in a neighborhood with drug dealers, prostitutes and a few sex offenders. Am I supposed to accept this becuase I live here or can I work for change? Are residents who recognize that laws are being violated supposed to roll over and say “thank you sir. may I please have another?”
    A problem with churches, and not just on parking but internal stuff is people whine “but this is the way we’ve always done this.” How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb? What, change a light bulb, my grandfather put in that light bulb! Unfortunately Maryland and Virginia visitors have been drinking the same whine of “this is what we’ve always done”.

  8. Anonymous,
    the whole moving to the nuisance thing is no longer considered a reasonable defense. Plus, the parking problems relating to churches have intensified over the recent years caused by:

    1. More former residents of DC moving to the suburbs & driving into DC each Sunday to attend services.

    2. More with cars people moving into DC.

    So, it really isn’t fair to even necessarily treat this as a pre-existing nuisance. Two problems: too many cars in a city not built for them, and too many amazing rude people who feel that they have some special right to drive into the District & ignore our parking laws.

  9. I am the second Anon comment. (When I attempted to set up a name and password I got an error messgae. That’s likely and internal thing since I should technically be working right now.) But Truxie, while I don’t claim to know the history of every block in this great city, I do know that the residents of the area that I mentioned and the church-goers had managed to peacefully co-exist up until recently when a rush of new faces appeared. I was not suggesting that change is not good or welcomed. In fact, my congregation is building a new sanctuary in a place that better accomodates our size. However, another congregation has purchased our current location so the problem will likely continue. The parking problem in the District extends beyond bickering with neighborhood churches. The fact is there is just no parking in the district!! When you purchased your property there was no sudden influx of brand spanking new parking spaces magically created to accommodate you.

    By the way. My grass does get mowed at an obsenely early time on Saturday mornings. It’s VERY annoyinig, but I moved into this community by my own choice and can also choose to leave if I’m unhappy.

    If you don’t like being baited…don’t take the bait. You seem to be the only poster that honed in on that particular point in my posting. No offense, but its hard not to feel pushed out of the place that we’ve (my congregation and my race) have been for at least the last 50 years. That’s just my viewpoint. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I only posted my opinion because I thought that all viewpoints were welcomed here.

    tlb (sorry my system still won’t let me set up a username)

  10. tlb–

    First, I park my car in front of my place that has existed for 100+ years on the street that has existed for the same amount of time. Since it’s just me, there’s been no need for a new parking spaces. I wouldn’t consider myself part of the problem of increased demand for parking spaces. Residents that live outside, or elsewhere in, the District are the ones that are finding a parking shortage when they come to church in the area. I believe we agree this is why they are parking illegally. It’s really not the fault of those that move to an area and use the existing parking public parking spaces. After all, they are paying DC resident taxes and have rights to use the public parking spaces as much, or more so, than anyone else.

    I think that Inked was right when they pointed out that the problem has worsened recently not because of new faces in the neighborhood, but because the congregrations have slowly moved from the DC communities near the churches to neighboring areas over the past 20 years. When these former residents return to the city via car, there are not enough parking spaces since the current ones are being used by the current residents of the communities.

    Lastly, I did take the bait when you referred to the neighborhood as being “whitewashed”, I’m sorry for that.

  11. Truxtonian… bad white boy for taking the bait, bad, bad.
    Many viewpoints are tolerated but anon posts irritate me, as well as other things, so they tend to get deleted.
    There is a whole mix of problems, some of which inked brilliantly pointed out. Parking (like traffic) has gotten worse with residents and visitors all vying for the same number of spaces. I’m curious (not that these things are publicly available) have the congregations grown as well? With more drivers?
    In other parts of Shaw double parking is not that much of a problem. There are five houses of worship (of various sizes) within one block of where I live. Three of them have very modest parking lots. There are parking violations (fire hydrant, where you run the risk of having the fire department bust your windows, close to the curb, etc) but nothing to seriously block or hinder residents from escaping. So just having churches around isn’t a given for double parking, some places are more responsible than that.
    In a better world, there would be no double parking, people blocking others’ driveways or parking in private spaces. In this better world if double parking had to be the churches would hold drivers’ keys and have a system that would allow residents to escape (but they’d lose their space until church is over), like a valet service or one of those parking garages where cars are stuffed in like sardines. In this better world congregants would be encouraged to car-pool so they can get to know their fellow parishioners on the way. Or they would take the metro. But this is not that better world, this is the District of Columbia.

  12. tlb says:

    I pose this question: If you drove up to your home on Sunday morning and found all of the church-goers parked “legally,” but was unable to park in front of or within close proximity to your property would you not still be angry? This problem in not about parking legally. It’s about there being more cars in DC than there are spaces. There does not exist a parking space for every DC resident. Compound that with the need to share space with commerial properties, businesses, and ,yes, churches and there just is no answer to this problem. I live in the city. I get in my car and drive to another part of the city to worship, meet friends, or shop for groceries and end up in a dispute with residents about parking. Maybe I’m just cynical after years of hearing this debate and never seeing a reasonable solution.

    Thanks for having me…I’m going to get some work done now before I’m fired and lose my home and my car…thus making this discussion null and void. It’s beautiful outside. Try to enjoy the day.


  13. The thing is, the isn’t complaining about not finding parking, the complaint is about being boxed in and nobody at the church moving their illegally parked car. Worse, is the Mercedes driver who couldn’t wait for the people to leave, bur rather boxed them in.

    This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with common courtesy and a willingness to follow the rules. What the City should do is come around and tow all the cars that are double parked. The revenue will make up for the enforcement costs and will serve as a deterrent.


  14. Question:“I pose this question: If you drove up to your home on Sunday morning and found all of the church-goers parked “legally,” but was unable to park in front of or within close proximity to your property would you not still be angry?”
    Answer: No. For 1, I don’t own a car. 2- that describes Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Foggy Bottom on any given Tuesday afternoon.
    Very few expect to be able to park in front of their house/apt/condo. I have a friend whose apt parking lot is like that, once you leave after 9pm there is no guarantee you’ll get a space. However she, and other expect to be able to leave. Residents are being denied the ability to leave when others block them in.
    (note after 20 comments I’m closing this post)

  15. I, like tlb, drive to church across town to Columbia Heights. However, I expect to have trouble parking on 16th street and surrounding residential roads so we leave early and park far away. What I hear is deflection from the fact that illegal parking IS happening. Whether you do it to grab something real quick at Whole Foods or attend a church service, you should still be mindful of the inconvenience you pose on traffic and the obvious fact that you may get a ticket.

  16. I own a car, and it is usually parked inside the garage which I also own. The “garage” was originally a carraige house; built to provide shelter for a horse and/or horse cart. Those details are really major contributing factors to this discussion…

    Cars did not exist when this city was designed. This simple fact affects all of us today. Imagine: a time when people moved about without cars. Yes, horses were employed to move us about, but the fact is that if you cannot travel a few miles on a mild day under your own power, you have bigger things to worry about than gentrification.

    Start by worrying about your chonic health problems. You may start to notice some improvement if you *stop using your car so much!*

    I cover thousands of miles every year under my own power. (I keep records). If you cannot get from PG county to central DC without a car…. I honestly feel sorry for you.

  17. Some folks seem to be missing the point. We’re not talking about not being able to get a parking space near your house. We’re talking double parking, which is both illegal and dangerous. How hard is it to understand that no one wants to be trapped.

    We all know the bigger issue is there aren’t enough parking spaces period. What we haven’t talked much about long-term answers. Does anybody have any “real world” solutions? Several “ideal world” solutions (churches shuttle parishioners from metro, city builds public parking garages, etc.) come to mind, but this is real world DC.

  18. I wonder what kind of uproar would be caused if someone reversed TLBs comments.

    I am not going to take the bait, and even draw a comparison or example, but it is offensive to take this issue down into a racial, if not racist argument.

  19. How do the police respond to the Sunday double-parking mess?

    Once, I was blocked in a DC residential neighborhood street parking spot by a non-church-related driver. I called the police and the car was ticketed and towed.

    Have the police been instructed to ignore double-parking complaints when the offender is at church?

    (In before the lock!!!)

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