May 22, 2009

D.C. plans big parking-violation campaign

Washington, D.C., fighting an $800 million budget shortfall, is launching a major expansion in its parking enforcement, officials say.

Washington is said to be planning to go as far as to plant cameras on street sweepers to spot parking violators who then could get $30 tickets in the mail.

The closely monitored program, already a frustrating problem for D.C residents and commuters -- and called by some a hidden commuter tax -- is expected to involve hundreds of thousands of motorists over the next year, The Washington Post reported.

The district now issues about 1.5 million tickets annually, 70 percent to motorists who live outside the city, not counting red light and speed camera citations. That's more than triple the number of parking tickets issued in Baltimore 40 miles away, the Post says.

City leaders project that attaching cameras to street sweepers will reap 237,000 more tickets in fiscal 2010. The cameras will take pictures of vehicles that have not been moved for street cleanings and generate an estimated $7 million in added annual revenue.

The D.C. Council also agreed to hire 45 parking control officers, and that could raise another $12.6 million a year, officials said.