Darn Street Sweepers! - NBC4 Washington

Darn Street Sweepers!

Get ready because here they come



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    No offense to the District's efforts to make some money, but just as soon as residents are finally enjoying the streets cleared from snow, the government is going to start sending out their infamous Sweepercams.

    D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty along with the Director of Public Works kicked off the District's 2010 street sweeping program today. The mayor said this winter's snow is partially to blame.

    “The historic snowfall has finally melted, but left behind a lot of debris that we’re eager to clear away. In addition to removing some of the last effects of the snow on our streets, sweeping improves the cleanliness of our roadways and reduces pollution in the District’s watershed," he said.

    The District also said the program works to control pollution from storm water run off by collecting thousands of pounds of pollutants like oil, grease, nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments and trace metals each month.

    The 2-year-old program, however, doesn't actually start until March 29.

    Here is how it works: The city sets up cameras on street sweeping vehicles and those people who haven't moved their cars on the specified street cleaning day, which should be indicated on a nearby sign, are considered parking violators.

    What comes next?

    The street sweeper vehicle suddenly makes like the car from "Knight Rider," spews out a ticket while calling you a loser and then "the Hoff" gets out, laughs and then in a swooping motion, and with no hands, packs himself back into the car.

    OK, maybe not.

    What really happens is way less exciting. The street sweeper vehicle takes a snap shot of your license and it is stored in what the district describes as a "one-of-a-kind" license plate recognition system. The fine for parking in the curb lane during street cleaning hours is $30.

    “Sweepercam has been very effective at keeping the curb lane clear so our vehicles can make a clean sweep,” said DPW Director Howland. “We’re giving motorists a week to get re-acclimated to the cleaning schedules, but beginning March 29, we will be ticketing the vehicles that are parked illegally and keeping the sweepers from doing their job.”

    That's right. Whether you knew it or not, you are currently under a grace period. Here is the tricky part though. Just because you get a ticket or even a warning there is a chance your car was mistakenly photographed. The cameras gave 500 false tickets last year, according to Washington City Paper, and DPW says there have been no changes to the system since.

    If you are legitimately swept into a ticket though, you can review it, and curse at it, online at www.dmc.dc.gov.