CSI: Arlington County

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the volume of comments and e-mails received about this site, we thought we'd take a few minutes to answer a number of questions asked about CSI: Arlington County and its proprietors.

Q: You're an idiot.

A: That's not a question, but you may have a point.

Q: Are you nuts?

A: Probably.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: From ticketing at parking meters on Sundays, to ticketing in non-metered two-hour zones mere minutes after the two-hour time limit begins, to blatantly ignoring clearly displayed Arlington County parking permits, the Arlington County Parking Enforcement Unit has proven that its mission is more harrassment than enforcement. Add a willful, demonstrated disregard for the law, and the result is a governmental agency that has proven that it is completely incapable of functioning without constant adult supervision.

This site exists because the Arlington County Parking Enforcement Unit is out of control and nobody is doing anything about it. And because it's kind of funny.

Q: Do you really want Arlington County parking officials to take up valuable parking spots instead of illegally parking on the street?

A: Good question, but I don't know if I agree with its premise. Given that most parking congestion occurs in higher traffic areas around easily accessible Metro stops, it seems silly (and wasteful) to give brand new gas-guzzling Ford F-150s to parking officials for the purpose of handing out tickets in areas that could easily be covered by foot or on bicycle.

Arlington County Chairman Chris Zimmerman has stated that Arlington County needs to be a more "transit-oriented" community, which means that people should drive less and use public transportation more. If that's the case, then the Parking Enforcement Unit should be a "transit-oriented" organization. And given the apparent obesity epidemic in this country, a little exercise for our county officials might not hurt. Not to mention the fact that we're paying $3 per gallon of gas for county officials to constantly stop and start their F-150s all day long.

Q: How is an illegally parked parking official any different than a police officer who speeds to catch a speeder, runs a red light to catch a bank robber, etc.?

A: Excellent question. The answer is that in the case of the police officer, the safety and security of the public is immediately at stake. However, that is not the case with a car that has been parked next to a meter for a few extra minutes. Vehicles that are parked too long next to a parking meter are not an immediate threat to anybody's safety or security (the crime of parking next to an expired meter is, at its core, a crime for not having given enough money to Arlington County in the first place, not a crime against one's safety or security). In many cases, in fact, the illegally parked parking official actually creates a public safety or traffic hazard, especially on roads with narrow lanes and no discernible shoulder. And to those who would argue that speeding police officers also create a safety hazard, we would state that police officers undergo rigorous training to prepare for events such as high-speed chases. To my knowledge, no such training for illegal parking exists. The only prerequisite is laziness.

And, because it's vaguely related to the police officer analogy, it's interesting to note how Arlington County's priorities are reflected in its budget for the Police Department. The Parking Enforcement Unit employs 29 officials who are responsible for enforcing the county's parking laws.

In contrast, the Traffic Unit, which is responsible for the "safe...flow of traffic in the County", employs only 11 officers.

Q: If a brief period of illegal parking makes the jobs of Parking Enforcement Unit officials easier, isn't that worth it?

A: Breaking the law may in many cases make all of our jobs easier. It would certainly make my daily commute more enjoyable. However, I don't see any judge or jury letting me off the hook because breaking the law was convenient for me at the time.

Q: Seriously, are you insane?

A: You've been a great audience. We'll be here all week. And don't forget the 9:30 show is completely different than the 7:30 show.


  • Might interest you to know I cited your entry on Caughtya.org


    By Anonymous Caughtya, at 9:23 PM  

  • Congrats on the article in the Washington Post today.

    I'm glad to see that the Arlington Transportation Board is finally going to do something. It seems pretty obvious that they would be interested in making sure our bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks weren't been blocked by County vehicles.

    But I guess the Transportation Board has more important things to do than actually do its job. Its about time they and their staff member, Peter Owen, who was cited in the paper, actually did something.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:51 AM  

  • The parking enforcement division of Arlington County works for all the citizens of the region to enforce the existing codes set by the county.It is unfortunate that so many citations are written and It's my guess that you must be the one of those many violators.Most of the citizens park properly and for the ones that don't a citation is in order.
    I work in the division and I walk on average more than 8 miles a day .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 AM  

  • Buddy please, a few things....

    1.) You're obviously upset because you got a ticket or multiple tickets. Most likely these are expired meter fines which I'm sure you were only there for "a few extra minutes" (a few...25 no difference right?) because nobody else is waiting for a parking space or anything.

    2.) How hard is the meter concept? You put money in for the amount of time you want to be there for. And I know common sense in Arlington is sometimes lacking so here's a little hint. If you put money in for an hour and you look down at your watch and realize it is now 57 minutes since you originally arrived, (most watches made after the year 1975 also now come with the technology of a minute timer too!!), but you're not done doing whatever business it is you're doing, GO PUT MORE MONEY IN THE METER!!! You have the first right to continue parking in that spot.

    3.) You're the exact same person who would drive down the street full of meters that are already taken and say "GRRRR!! LOOK OVER THERE! There are 2 city/county/state official cars LEGALLY parked in those two metered spots! If those two morons would stop taking up MY RIGHT TO PARK I would have no trouble finding a place to park!! I'm calling to complain about this I've had enough!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:58 AM  

  • The "Traffic Unit" may only have 11 officers assigned specifically to that unit. However, if it's like any other police department, that only means that those 11 specifically are not responsible for police calls for service and are supposed to be running speed traps and paying attention to traffic enforcement as their primary focus for their entire tour of duty. Meanwhile it says that the Arlington Police have 365 sworn officers, all other officers will still focus on enforcing traffic regulations but may get tied up taking a report (perhaps one from a dumb citizen who wants to complain that parking meter maids aren't parking legally and feeding the meter like everyone else).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:28 AM  

  • Loved your FAQs. I have one additional question: What would you say to citizens who actually COMPLAIN about County vehicles, especially police cars, that are properly parked in legal spaces? (Yes, it does happen -- citizens actually complain when county vehicles are "taking up" spaces that other people could be using. Seems like either way, the County is doing the wrong thing...)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:06 PM  

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