THE PROBLEM // Some Baltimore parking enforcement vehicles routinely park in a "no-stopping" area.
THE BACKSTORY // Are city transportation workers parking illegally?
A Watchdog spy reports that on several mornings, he has spotted city transportation vehicles stopped in the clearly marked "no stopping" area near the crosswalk at the intersection of Calvert and Bath streets - even when there are other spaces available.
Baltimore's Department of Transportation opened its new Transportation Management Center last week on the 400 block of N. Calvert St., and traffic on nearby Bath Street is now one-way to accommodate angled parking for the traffic division's vehicles.
(Full disclosure: The new center is across the street from The Sun, and Bath Street is immediately south of The Sun's main offices.)
Watchdog snapped a photograph last week of car number 971610, with Maryland license plate LG 50675, in the "no-stopping" area.
There are obviously times when all the spaces reserved for traffic division cars might be taken. But does that permit city department of transportation vehicles to park in "no-stopping" areas?
Absolutely not, said Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, which she said is investigating the matter and that parking enforcement will be monitoring the area.
"I do concur that the driver of that vehicle was in fact in violation," Barnes said. "We are making sure this doesn't happen again."
The traffic division, which is now based in the management center, uses those vehicles. The division establishes traffic patterns and signage - such as the "no-stopping" area in question - and coordinates traffic flow around the city.
City-owned cars are not exempt from parking violations, and employees are personally responsible for any violations they incur while driving a city car, Barnes said.
"Once we have the restrictions and signage in place, there's no excuse," she said.
WHO CAN FIX THIS // Felicia Shelton, traffic division chief, Department of Transportation. 443-984-2150. City residents can also call 311 to report problems.
For at least two years, an abandoned cabin cruiser has remained half-submerged off Thames Street, near the recently revitalized running path and promenade along the water between the Inner Harbor and Canton.
The Sun published a feature article about the powerboat last May, and authorities pledged to address the situation. This year Canton resident Barbara Fisher Steinke wrote to Watchdog to complain. She lives in a waterfront Canton development that overlooks the vessel.
"We see it out of our living room window," Steinke said. "It's not really what I had in mind in terms of a beautiful view."
Another tipster called the Watchdog phone line last week to report the unsightly mess.
Watchdog contacted the Maryland Natural Resources Police last week, and a spokesman said the city of Baltimore handles its own complaints about abandoned boats.
Police spokesmen were unable to obtain additional information about the status of the half-submerged vessel from the city's marine unit in time for today's column.