FOIA Friday: Virginia lawmakers get VIP parking privileges
It's a little-known perk of serving in the General Assembly.
- Every senator and delegate gets a city-issued permit that lets them park for free and ignore time limits during the legislative session.
What's happening: As part of a semi-regular feature we're calling FOIA Friday, we asked the city for records related to the program.
What we learned: There are limits to the city's parking amnesty for lawmakers, and it can get awkward when lawmakers run afoul of those rules.
- The passes come with a list of instructions — mostly obvious stuff like not parking on sidewalks or in handicapped spaces.
The intrigue: Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, appears to be the only lawmaker to have broken those rules this year when he left his car in the floating rush-hour lane on Franklin Street.
- Despite the clear violation, the city's parking attendants spared his car from ticketing or towing and issued a warning instead.
What they're saying: The deference apparently did not go unnoticed, records show.
- "You can see the tow truck in the background towing off to [sic] other cars. I received complaints about [the city's parking enforcement] not towing the Prius," the city's parking czar, Steve Bergin, wrote to Assistant House Clerk Jay Braxton.
- Meanwhile, Bergin told parking enforcement not to ticket or tow unless there were repeat violations the following week.
The other side: Lopez said in a text to Axios that something came up, and he wasn't able to move his car in the morning, but he says he didn't seek out any special treatment.
- "If the City of Richmond deems that my situation is worthy of a ticket, I will gladly pay it. And, if this occurs again in the future and the city believes it is necessary and proper, they should tow and ticket my vehicle," he said.
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