Greater Greater Washington

Parking


Shaw church parking demand is nothing new

Church parking is a huge problem in Shaw, especially today. It's commonly said that the churches in Shaw used to serve immediate residents, and thus didn't need as much parking, but as their congregants have moved farther away over time, they need space for their cars on Sundays. But is this true?


Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.

Mari at InShaw did some research and found a 1957 survey of churches in the "Shaw Urban Renewal Area." She writes:

Of the 42 churches reporting in the NW Urban Renewal area (see map), only 14 had 40% or more of their membership in the renewal area in 1957. Yes, that is 56 years ago, but as present day churches grousing about parking dredge up members who've been attending for 40-50 years as an excuse to ignore parking violations of members of undetermined tenure, I say it is fair to look at membership patterns from way back then.


Image from 1957 survey via InShaw.
In [an Examiner article from October, entitled "Parking conflicts prompting churches to flee D.C.,"] Lincoln Congregational Temple is mentioned as one of the complaining churches. On page 39 of the 1957 survey only 25% of its congregants lived in the area and supposedly of that, most were elderly, people who should be by now at home with Jesus. With the Savior and not driving and trying to find a parking spot.

In '57 a majority of their membership [were] up in Brookland and over in Kenilworth. It is possible that the church recruited a ton of members in the Shaw area since the survey, who then moved out of the area and come back on Sundays. However, I don't think that gives anyone a moral right to a parking spot, no more than having the right to use the toilet in your first apartment years after you turned in the keys and got[] your deposit back.

Shaw is chock full of churches, and some of them have figured out how to worship without double parking and the like. Sadly it is the ones who haven't seriously looked for solutions, other than breaking the law, who seem to scream the loudest. It is embarrassing as a believer, when some church leaders try to make parking a theological issue. Parking ain't in the Bible.

The parking problem has grown especially acute recently. Residents petitioned DDOT to extend residential permit parking (RPP) to Sundays, meaning churchgoers who don't live in the area can only park for 2 hours on RPP blocks and not at all on one side of every street. That has made it impossible for church patrons to use the street parking.

I also suspect that in 1957 Shaw had fewer resident-owned cars, so there wasn't the same level of competition for curb space.

DDOT has been working with individual churches for some time to try to find extra space that can accommodate parking on Sundays, like diagonal parking or space along the medians of wide avenues. But any such parking has to be open to all, not just churchgoers (anything else would be fairly clearly unconstitutional), and just adding more free parking won't ultimately solve the problem.

Many of the churches, but not all, have nearby office buildings or public schools with unused parking capacity on Sundays. There should be a way to work out a deal where the churches can use these lots. However, that parking won't be entirely free.

As we saw with the compromise the Washington Interfaith Network worked out for Columbia Heights churches to use the DC USA garage, once free parking is clearly not an option, suddenly a compromise that involves non-free parking becomes tenable.

The neighborhood parking also isn't entirely full, now that it's so restricted. It should be possible to let some people who want to drive to Shaw park on neighborhood streets, but there isn't room for all. How can DC allocate this scarce resource? The only ways to divvy up a limited resource is lottery, queue, pricing, favoritism (choosing one preferential group), or a hodgepodge.

Right now, it's favoritism for residents, with no option for others. The most sensible approach would be to set up a parking pass that's not free, perhaps also limited in number, which people could purchase to park in Shaw on Sundays. But the assumption that parking must be free, that free parking is a God-given right, is a straitjacket that forecloses better, creative solutions.

Update: The change to the parking included restrictions to RPP holders only on one side of every street. The original article did not mention this feature of the new policy. It has been corrected.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

Add a comment »

Just enforce parking laws on Sundays already!

An even, impartial application of existing laws would go a long way towards encouraging everyone who parks on Sundays - not just churchgoers - to obey the law and organize their trips in such a manner that they are not in violation of the law.

In short, simply enforcing existing laws on Sundays will probably be enough to abate the problem to a point that would be a reasonable compromise.

by MJB on Feb 1, 2013 1:27 pm • linkreport

While on the surface it may not seem like a whole lot, I bet 25-40% of church members living in the neighborhood would be far higher than the percentages today. And might it also be true that there was more parking in the 1950s when people were A) less likely to own cars and B) may have traveled outside of the neighborhood to go to their own church. While there may have been problems 50+ years ago, I'd wager that they are even more acute today.

by Adam L on Feb 1, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

O Street Market will have 500 underground parking spaces...

http://www.roadsidedevelopment.com/site/assets/docs/ProjectDownloads/CityMarket_at_O_Project_Book._02_.03_.11_.pdf

by George on Feb 1, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

You forgot to mention that this is Jack Evans' fault.

by teddyhux on Feb 1, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

Do locals not pay for RPP? That doesn't sound fair. I can see restricting them geographically but they shouldn't be free. If you have your own driveway or garage that's one thing but just being a resident doesnt mean you get free parking.

by Alan B. on Feb 1, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

RPP's are fairly inexpensive compared to their value. I think its like 35$ dollars. Basically the cost to have someone collect the registrations and send out the stickers rather than reflecting the value of any particular parking spot.

by drumz on Feb 1, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

Oh yeah that seems way low. I would think they should be at least $200. Perhaps you get the first year for cheap because it's a new program and the second year it goes up to a more market rate. I mean you don't want to unfairly price out poor people but there is a cost associated with that parking space.

by Alan B. on Feb 1, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

you failed to mention that most of these churches are within a two block radius from several metro stops in Shaw. Residents pay for their parking and are in competition with people from outside the are who don't. There's competition because the parking regs in Shaw are rarely enforced and never enforced on Sundays. Just because you go to church doesn't mean you have a right to drive there.

by erik on Feb 1, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

Residents petitioned DDOT to extend residential permit parking (RPP) to Sundays, meaning churchgoers who don't live in the area can only park for 2 hours on RPP blocks. That has made it impossible for church patrons to use the street parking.

Maybe this reveals my ignorance of DC churches, but do services typically last longer than 90-120 minutes? Back in my raised-Catholic days, mass ran 45 minutes to an hour depending on if we got the chatty or concise priest.

by worthing on Feb 1, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Just because you go to church doesn't mean you have a right to drive there.

This is a head scratcher. In a free society, why wouldn't people have a "right" to drive anywhere they can walk or bike or metro to.

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Maybe this reveals my ignorance of DC churches, but do services typically last longer than 90-120 minutes?

Can't say whether it's typical but being in church longer than 2 hours is not uncommon.

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

Can't we all find better ways to get along and help shape a "blessed community"? It is sometimes satisfying to sit apart and give advice about how others should behave, suggest they are wrong/wrongheaded, describe them as "outsiders", jockey for adv position of "our interests over their interests", and throw verbal/electronic rocks back and forth. The point is we CAN find approaches/compromises that produce JOINT GAINS. All sides win something but don't "win" everything they might want. Or should we just keep driving wedges between groups?? Maybe that serves those currently in "power" but it doesn't serve most of the common folk. IMHO

by Tom M on Feb 1, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted to keep the comment thread from getting into a semantic flamewar.]

by Alan B. on Feb 1, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

@ Tom H

It seems like the best, and fairest, way for everyone to get along is to enforce the law equally and without favor. I don't expect the District to allow me to park my car in violation of the law if I go to the gym or engage in some other discretionary activity, so why should churchgoers be given that privilege?

by Potowmack on Feb 1, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

There is not right to drive or park anyway. Even if their was an explicit mention of this it would still need to be regulated.

by drumz on Feb 1, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

@ Potowmack -- Enforcement is certainly a distinct adv for those who live in the area and to the disad of those coming in for the churches. Particularly so with extending 2 hour RPP limits to Sundays. So if that is the outcome you want to achieve, that approach is well engineered to accomplish it. However, working toward compromise which expanded some parking options But that's not going to ensure the walls stay up between groups and the jockeying for adv position will continue.

by Tom M on Feb 1, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the churchucation, HogWash.

Another observation: The most sensible approach would be to set up a parking pass that's not free, perhaps also limited in number, which people could purchase to park in Shaw on Sundays.

Is there such a volume of the newly 2-hour spaces that permitting paid access to them would solve things? My impression DC-wide has been that the biggest challenge is double/illegal parking, which could only be somewhat mitigated depending on how many permits would be available.

by worthing on Feb 1, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

"It seems like the best, and fairest, way for everyone to get along is to enforce the law equally and without favor."

If I read the DA correct, the issue is what should the law be.

It used to be no restrictions on Sundays, which worked for the churchgoers, but was not functional for the neighbors. Now RPP applies on Sunday to all, which can be fair in the sense that its equally enforced, but means that someone who does not live in the RPP zone who highly values parking (for more than 2 hours) cannot park there at all - while someone who doesnt value it much can get free parking, 24/7/365, for $35 a year. You can call that fair, but it hardly seems like the best solution for allocating a limited resource.

If RPPs were priced to better reflect their value, and if it were possible for non residents to purchase them, perhaps to purchase them for specific off peak days or times only, that could be a much better, and arguably fairer, solution.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 1, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

DC has a parking problem? That's strange. I've lived here 20 years and I've never really noticed or cared.

by rg on Feb 1, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

[Deleted to forestall semantic flamewars.] It doesn't change my point. People should be able to "park" wherever they want if its available.

The point is we CAN find approaches/compromises that produce JOINT GAINS. Or should we just keep driving wedges between groups??

Unfortunately not because this is just where we are. We've seen it play out similarly in places around the country. I believe the introduction of blogs has contributed to this in both good and horribly bad ways....

LOL@Worthing...Always! Personally, I prefer the Episcopal/Presbyterian church clock. :)

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

People should be able to "park" wherever they want if its available.

I think no one disagrees with that. It's figuring out what "available" means and where it is.

by drumz on Feb 1, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

"Unfortunately not because this is just where we are. "

dont you think DA's approach could be the basis for compromise? Does it not represent a serious reaching out, to use the logic of pricing, to overcome the wedges between communities?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 1, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

People should be able to "park" wherever they want if its available. Better?

No, not really, because the issue as much as anything about vehicles parking illegally as anything. Church members shouldn't be allowed to double-park into bike lanes or lanes of traffic, especially not when they are boxing residents in. Church members shouldn't be allowed to park on corners past No Parking signs, nor should they be allowed to park in front of fire hydrants. But in Shaw, these are regular occurrences on Sunday mornings, and the rule of law goes unenforced.

by Circle Thomas on Feb 1, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

@Tom M: In theory, compromise would be great. How would you suggest going about it. For years, churchgoers in that neighborhood ignored parking rules on Sundays (and those were the relaxed Sunday rules), with the complicity of the GC government. not just squeezing a couple of extra cars in, but blocking hydrants and crosswalks, parking in bus stops, and most egregiously double-parking others' cars in. When asked to stop - nothing changed. When asked again - nothing changed. They were singularly uninterested in ANY change. And now they're upset that residents are pushign for more restrictions? What in the world did they think would happen? I expect residents would have dealt with increased demand on Sundays if the churchgoers hadn't been so blatant in their disregard for the rules.

So, I ask you - what sort of compromise would you suggest?

by dcd on Feb 1, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

"Living in the area" is/was pretty restrictive, given that these churches would always have drawn from adjacent neighborhoods like LeDroit, U Street, Strivers Section, etc. 9and often been closer to them). The big churches are there because of segregation era patterns of residence and some of them have developed housing, etc. which make them actual anchors in the neighborhood. Some of their buildings are historic landmarks like Metropolitan (which I don't think has any parking). The churches stuck around when much of the area was destroyed and few of the businesses had the resources or inclination to return. Most but not all of these are black churches, but if anyone picked up and left they were white churches, like the LDS (who were outside this area but not far away).

I say all this because even though I find many things problematic about churches in the area (like Foundry's bells on a Sunday morning--I can hear them 3 blocks away) including their tax breaks, I do think this is not a simple argument. It's one thing to tie-up a thoroughfare like the mega-chruch near Home Depot does and it's another to merely annoy people on Sunday in much the way that zoo visitors do in Lanier Heights, Mt P, Woodley & Cleveland Park and nighttime visitors do in Adams-Morgan. At least churchgoers don't back into your car drunk while parallel parking (Adams-Morgan) or leave broken beer bottles in the street. I live a few blocks from Shaw but find the Sunday privilege given for parking to be more of a problem in places like 16th Street (a very diverse and ecumenical strangulation of a thoroughfare in areas where side street parking often is plentiful). Churches may not have the role they once had in neighborhoods, they still have a big political role and the endless attention to mostly Black churches without considering the bigger picture is just doomed to fail, and unlikely to address what privilege should be given to places of worship.

by Rich on Feb 1, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

dont you think DA's approach could be the basis for compromise?

Absolutely! Yet, the challenge will continue to be getting people to concede. I'm not sure if the "war over church parking" will subside even in the face of reasonable idea. I was more focused on the idea of how we can't all get along.

Church members shouldn't be allowed to double-park into bike lanes or lanes of traffic, especially not when they are boxing residents in.

No they shouldn't and we've discussed it here countless times among mutual agreement. [Deleted].

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

'Absolutely! Yet, the challenge will continue to be getting people to concede. I'm not sure if the "war over church parking" will subside even in the face of reasonable idea. I was more focused on the idea of how we can't all get along.'

Oh. I think the great thing about this blog, is that it focuses on policy solutions as a way of addressing issues that can create conflicts. Good prices and good policies make good neighbors, so to speak.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 1, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

Actually I did mean a right to park, but drive is correct as well. Driving is a privilege as is parking, not a right. It's a huge problem if you live near one of these churches and want to drive somewhere on a Sunday. Either you can't get your car out because someone has blocked you in, or you can't return to your house because there's no parking.

The problem is that the churches seem to just want exceptions made for their parishioners, they don't want to offer solutions. Perhaps the churches should run shuttle buses from metro stops or distant parking lots.

by erik on Feb 1, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

Actually I did mean a right to park,

Erik, Thanks for clarifying what you meant!

@Alan, see above.

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

OK. What about setting aside some parking right by the churches set aside for Church-provided placards on Sunday, but to be used for the older, less mobile members in exchange the churchs rent some parking and run shuttle service???? Both the neighborhood and chuches both gain some and lose some. It doesn't involve "pricing parking higher" which is a differential adv to any group with greater incomes. Although i KNOW DA prefers that tool ... but if i had made my way during the google hey day, money might never again be my concern either....

by Tom M on Feb 1, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

worthing: There was an error in the original post. The change made 2-hour apply for all blocks but also made one side of each street resident-only, so churchgoers not from Ward 6 couldn't park at all on those blocks. I've corrected the post.

However, I do think at many churches a lot of people hang around longer.

by David Alpert on Feb 1, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

" It doesn't involve "pricing parking higher" which is a differential adv to any group with greater incomes."

thats how we allocate lots of scare goods. I agree that incomes in this country should be more equal (and I cast my vote in November with that in mind) but I don't think income equity has to be the primary factor in deciding every single issue.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 1, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

scarce

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 1, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

If paying some sort of money that is >0 once a week is some sort of insurmountable burden I don't think it's financially prudent anyway.

Besides, how else are you going to ensure availability other than price? The only way I can think is restricting to specific groups but why is that preferable to charging money?

by drumz on Feb 1, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport

@David - ah, got it. Same kind of thing that was also done in Ward 6 on G ST NE and others. That makes more sense.

@Tom M - I don't like that precedent much. What happens if I live in the neighborhood and am parked there Saturday--I have to move my car for the church despite the fact that I pay for an RPP for that zone? Regardless of what RPP costs, it still doesn't make sense to have a paying resident of a neighborhood be subject to ticketing and towing to allow for free church parking in his or her place. It's a little too "the church deserves this free benefit because it's a church" for my blood. I don't think I'd call that compromise.

by worthing on Feb 1, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

As a few commenters have noted, I think we're missing the real issue here, namely that certain D.C. church-goers already are getting special privileges to break the law: They are allowed to box in residents' cars and park in bike lanes, in lanes of traffic, at corners and in front of fire hydrants on Sundays without fear of repercussion. Really, the issue isn't finding new privileges for these church-goers; it should be about TAKING AWAY a privilege that they already have.

Simply enforcing the parking laws on Sunday would solve this problem.

by anon-dc on Feb 1, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

The cost of the RPP shouldn't be flat across all neighborhoods. I live in Takoma/Lamond and can usually park right in front of my house. Sometimes I have to park 1 or 2 houses away but that's it. The number of cars in my neighborhood is manageable. In other neighborhoods it's not like that though.

We've implemented performance parking in some neighborhoods. Why not RPPs the same way? Determine how many permits the neighborhood can bear so that there are always some spots available. Then create a formula to determine the price of the permits so that you always have some available at the DMV. The price of the permits will go up and down just like the prices do with performance parking.

It should also probably be ANC based and not wards. The wards are big and people in ward 4 for example often drive to the Takoma metro and park. No spots open up during the day and it screws things up. People in popular neighborhoods closer to downtown have the same issues. Residential Parking Permits should be all about parking near your residence. Make it based on the ANC and that helps solve some problems. It also makes my idea about pricing the RPPs more practical.

by TakomaNick on Feb 1, 2013 5:04 pm • linkreport

OK. What about setting aside some parking right by the churches set aside for Church-provided placards on Sunday, but to be used for the older, less mobile members in exchange the churchs rent some parking and run shuttle service????

If you mean the church gets 10 or so VPPs they can use to park in a RPP zone, I'm fine with that. If you mean clearing out half a block for the exclusive use for churchgoers - no way. Why on earth should a private entity get exclusive use of public parking space? The right to use it in a legal fashion? Sure. Creating a de facto private parking lot on a public street. That's a bridge too far.

by dcd on Feb 1, 2013 5:54 pm • linkreport

Do locals not pay for RPP? That doesn't sound fair. I can see restricting them geographically but they shouldn't be free. If you have your own driveway or garage that's one thing but just being a resident doesnt mean you get free parking.

Agreed that you shouldn't have to pay for your driveway or garage. However, in a rational world, owners of garages and driveways would pay an annual fee for their curb cut. They are, after all, being given exclusive use of a valuable piece of public property that could otherwise be used for others to park in.

by contrarian on Feb 1, 2013 5:56 pm • linkreport

Use on-street parking.
Park at outlying Metro lots and take Metro in.

by Districter on Feb 1, 2013 6:11 pm • linkreport

And Truxton Circle makes a cameo appearance in the map.

by Michael on Feb 1, 2013 9:55 pm • linkreport

I live in Shaw. A block from the Shaw/Howard U Metro stop, and in the middle of a lot of churches. Parking laws are NOT enforced on Sunday mornings anywhere in DC. Church services can run all day on Sundays. The same cars parked illegally in the AM are parked all day illegally and are NOT ticketed. If I leave my home in the AM I have great trouble finding a space when I return. I don't think shuttle buses would be used by the parishioners. I attend many functions in this city but I am not excluded from following parking laws. Why should church people be given 'special rights' just because they believe in Jesus and attend church. Are Jews given the same rights on Sat? Are Muslims given the same rights on Friday? What about Buddhists or other religious groups?

by Nick the Greek on Feb 2, 2013 8:54 am • linkreport

And people have not heard of things called parking garages or metro?

by Kevin Diffily on Feb 2, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

I've never understood why someone from the Anti-Defamation League (a mainly-jewish DC-based civil rights group) doesn't park illegally at a synagogue on Saturday, get ticketed, and then fight the whole unfair system of special parking privileges on Sundays in court. It's actually the kind of thing the ADL would do, although they usually work on more of a national level. Perhaps there's an enterprising lawyer in DC who could take up this cause on their behalf.

by Falls Church on Feb 2, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

@falls church

that would kind of piss off the Orthodox Jews though. Driving on Saturday, ya know? I mean of course people do it, Reform says its fine, Conservative allows it (kind of sort of) but to, you know, make a federal case about it?

I mean if they want to get into this kind of micro local issue, the fact that schools hold so many events on friday nights would be more important.

by TodayIsShabbos on Feb 2, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

I can't find out why some enterprising tow truck operators dont just tow the double parked cars. Or why residents dont call the tow trucks themselves on the illegal parkers blocking in their cars.

by Jim K on Feb 2, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

I live in Shaw. A block from the Shaw/Howard U Metro stop, and in the middle of a lot of churches. Parking laws are NOT enforced on Sunday mornings anywhere in DC.

I feel like I am the only gentrifying who is more or less ok with this, honestly. It's Sunday... it's generally accepted that meters are not in effect, nor are permits required (in most places). The only thing that really bugs me is double parking. Letting a few rules slide for a few hours from Sunday morning to the early afternoon is ok to me. Honestly, who cares? Even if the cars take up space that's supposed to be reserved for the bus stops, the truth is that the buses don't come that often anyway. Plenty of neighborhoods have "formalized" the Sunday morning situation, in that parking is explicitly allowed in some places (according to the signs) only on Sunday morning/early afternoon. The fact that other neighborhoods accept this "unofficially" isn't a problem, IMHO.

That said, when the church I currently attend saw that its membership was starting to more and more be drawn from people who were driving in from the suburbs, they did the reasonable thing which was to pick up and move to another part of DC where they could build a bigger church with a large parking lot.

by Tyro on Feb 2, 2013 8:20 pm • linkreport

I'm curious about how 2 hours became our default time limited parking option. I feel like 3 hours would allow people to accomplish what they want and still encourage turn over. Two hours often seems rushed, but three hours is plenty of time to shop, visit a museum, eat out, go to church or whatever.

I'm a little disapointed to see "churches" lumped together as one monthlic entity. There actually is signficant variation in how churches behave and how engaged they are with their neighborhoods and people who don't worship there or anywhere. I'm routinely on both sides of this issue as both a churchgoer and someone who lives near several churches that are bad neighbors about parking.

I think parking laws should be enforced at all times including Sundays and that any special arrangements made should be available to groups that have high parking needs at only one particular time.

My church has made arrangments for people to park in the hotel garage across the street at a reduced rate. Sunday morning is not a super busy time for them. I suspect more churches might be able to make arrangements like this if they tried. To me that makes more sense than a dedicated church parking facility that wouldn't get much use during the week. I'm sure if we still had our surface parking lot many of you would be complaining about the existance of a surface parking lot on Thomas Circle. It's kind of a no brainer to me that affordable housing and services for homeless women is a better use of the land than parking.

However, think saying "just take metro" is overly simplistic, while there may be metro stops near the churches, there aren't metro stops in all parts of the city. Large chunks of NE and SE have really crummy weekend transit options. There are actually people who travel from one part of the city to another for church. It's not just surbanities. More than an hour trying to take transit vs. 15 minutes in my car is not a contest.

Churches should be good neighbors and deal with parking issues and traffic flow issues. However, I have little patience for people who move in right near a church and then complain that there are all these people in your neighborhood on Sunday morning or in evenings during the week. It's like moving next to a school and complaining about the presence of children.

by Kate W. on Feb 4, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

David, it's mostly zone 2 residential parking in Shaw. The parking did not change with the zone redistricting.

There may be also an assumption that all of these churches still have large congregations and/or multiple services.

by MiCoBa on Feb 4, 2013 9:28 pm • linkreport

Kate I think the basic problem is that many churches are NOT good neighbors and really don't intend on ever being good neighbors. The church leadership or the individual members feel that they are there to worship and maybe feel that gives them some sort of exemption (even if this was going on in their neighborhood they would likely be a tad less forgiving).

by ET on Feb 5, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

I live in Shaw. Of the more than 20 churches I have talked with and/or visited so far, only two have a significant presence in the immediate neighborhood where their building is located. Between 5-10% of their members walk to church services. The rest drive into Shaw each week.

So, on one hand I see the loyalty of the African American saints who drive back into the neighborhood, sometimes with 2 or 3 and even 4 generations in the car, to get to the Sunday service, is astounding. Many of these members used to live in Shaw, but over time for various reasons, moved out. But they remain faithful to their church home.

On the other hand, there is a disconnect between the church and the neighborhood. At my old church in Shaw, my wife and I were among 4 or 5 members would would walk to church. All others drove in from other parts of the city or from the suburbs. The majority of the congregation had no idea what was happening in the neighborhood, or how the neighbors felt about the traffic mess that it created on Sundays.

I have talked with pastors about how parking communicates with the surrounding neighborhoods where their buildings are located, they are surprised that my neighbors and I think the way we do.

There is a mentality and a behavior problem where the Church feels that it has the right to double park, block bus stops, fire plugs, and even on some streets, triple park. And too bad if you have a problem with this! This is pure arrogance.

I have talked with my neighbors about the expression of the church as it is presented to those of us that live here. A summary of my conversations over the years about the church and the disconnect from the neighborhood - and how parking is a key indicator of this disconnect - is as follows:

The church drives in from the burbs; parks illegally
talks amongst itself; makes a lot of noise; has a good time with Jesus; and buries its dead. None of my neighbors have ever mentioned to me how a specific church has been a gift to the neighborhood. Not once in 12 years.

So for my part, I reject the philosophy that parking is a right, or that it is a theological issue. For me, going to church in a distant location, other than where you live, work and play is the theological issue.

As a Christian myself, I am appalled by the thinking and behavior of the Christians and pastors in this neighborhood on this issue.

Since I moved to Shaw in 2001, I have not seen the pastors and churches of DC mobilize about the tragic HIV infection rate in DC, or the horrible schools that dominate the lives of poor kids here. Rather, pastors marched for the right to continue to park illegally without getting a ticket on Sundays!

Jesus told his followers to go the extra mile with others. To do good to those that hate us. And right now in this specific issue, the church NEEDS to go the extra mile in this issue.

So what is the solution? I agree with comments above, that church members and pastors in Shaw need to park legally - starting this Sunday! And they also need to organize themselves for ride share, and rent shuttles, where churches that share the same block can collaborate together. And the church leaders and members need to drop the looks that shout, "I have been doing this since I was a teenager and I will continue to park illegally, and if you don't like it, get out of my neighborhood!"

The Biblical thing to do is to seek the peace of the city and to be a blessing to the city and the neighborhood. Not to look to talk among ourselves and seek to our own welfare.

The parking laws that are broken each Sunday trashes the name of Jesus each and every Sunday. If the church were to suddenly park legally and got organized in a way as to not be a burden on the neighbors, this will open doors for both churches and neighbors to come together and bless the neighborhood.

As it stands now, the churches in Shaw, who once stood firm in the horrible times in the past, are now seen by many as the problem keeping Shaw from becoming a world class neighborhood. This should not be...

by Brian on Feb 5, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

I'm surprised there aren't more "the devil made me do it" incidents directed at the vehicles of church goers who have blocked in neighborhood residents' cars. The residents are saintly compared to the churchies!

by Atheist on Feb 5, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us