Parking battle pits Nats fans against residents

A battle is brewing at the Nationals stadium, and it has nothing to do with the Nats’ baseball opponents. This is a parking fight between Nats fans and people who live near Nats park.

For four years now, these have been the usual sights and sounds on game nights. One of them, though many don’t realize it, is towing.

"Yeah they used to... They don't do it anymore," said Tiffan Norris, a nearby resident.

The once aggressive campaign of towing vehicles of fans parked in residential neighborhoods has vanished this season.

"When fans park... Where are the residents going to park," wonders resident Willie Chapman.

Two Department of Public Works employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said drivers working overtime during the games have been told not to tow in the neighborhoods this season.

On separate nights, ABC7 went to see for ourselves. Streets were filled up with non-permit vehicles, and a number of tow trucks just circling the stadium and sitting idle.

Department of Public works director William Howland admits the city has decided to do less towing this year, but claims that only applies to the Southeast side, not to these neighborhoods.

Howland said towing would impede the restaurants in the area. Instead, he said the department is issuing tickets.

But on the Southwest side ABC7 saw no towing, no parking tickets and a tow truck driver told us off-camera the drivers normally sit for the entire game, collecting overtime. Nats fan Sarah Adams has even found ways to beat the two hour time limit. She said she uses a friend’s guest-parking pass.

After speaking to the director about our findings, he agrees maybe something is wrong.

"It could have been a miscommunication,” Howland said. He maintains, "We are towing more than we did last year... We may need to be towing a little bit more.”