The Washington, D.C., government caved under heavy criticism for dolling out over $1 million in parking tickets the Friday before the historic blizzard, announcing Thursday that they will forgive more than half.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city wanted to lend a hand to those who were blindsided by tickets as high as $250 for parking their cars illegally before the storm hit. Of the 5,479 tickets written, 2,829 will be waived, however owners who had their cars removed by city officials for cleanup will still have to pay the $100 towing fee, reports The Washington Post.
“I understand that some who received citations that Friday may not have known about the parking restriction, or may have been running errands in preparation for the storm,” Bowser said Thursday afternoon. “This ticket dismissal is one small way that we can continue to help each other recover from the storm.”
The city has already burnt through its annual snow budget of roughly $6 million, so far spending $12 million for the cleanup effort. Forgiving half of the parking tickets will cut the city’s revenue from the weekend by $700,000, reports The Washington Post. (RELATED: DC Blows Budget On Blizzard Cleanup)
Not everyone is thrilled with the decision, including motorists who had to abandon their cars and got ticketed during the storm. The D.C. Council, which has strictly enforced the fines in the past to ensure cleanup crews could work, may challenge the mayor’s unilateral move.
Others have also leveled criticism at the mayor, asking what the point of the laws are if they are not going to be enforced. Members of the D.C. Council point out that the parking rules and sidewalk shoveling fines were created for scenarios like the blizzard, when streets must be clear so emergency crews can do their job, reports Washington City Paper.
“If not in a storm like this, where it’s really especially important that the sidewalks be cleared, then when,” said Mary Cheh, a council member representing the District’s Ward 3. “That money ought to go to help pay for the clean-up.”
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