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Broad St. parking ban over, signs coming down

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–City officials announced Tuesday that the longtime ban on late-night, early-morning parking on much of West Broad Street is over.

That had legendary jazz and blues singer Lady E singing for joy. She had parked on the street there for more than two decades.

She was among the many who got a $60 parking ticket when police started re-enforcing the late night parking ban that began in the ‘90s, to thwart cruising, parking and fighting on Broad Street that was part of a culture of lawlessness that killed many downtown businesses.

The cruising problem went away and the city’s violent crime problem eased dramatically. Businesses slowly returned. And everyone just ignored the old signs, including the police.

Then, a complaint about selective enforcement sparked this summer’s unpopular crackdown.

The lid blew off the situation when Rand Burgess, owner of The Camel, was charged with obstruction of justice for trying to delay police from ticketing his patrons.

Business owners and nearby residents joined together to fight the ban and have it lifted. Residents in the Fan have had to deal with people frequenting the Broad Street clubs and businesses parking in their precious few neighborhood spots.

“I really am excited about this,” said 2nd District City Councilman Charles Samuels, “because it shows when people get together and work with their elected officials, great things can happen.”

“Ecstatic,” said Chad Stambaugh, owner of Emilio’s, the site of one of the longest-running jazz jams in the country – where Lady E frequently sings. “Thank you Richmond for finally doing something for us.”

Burgess is celebrating, too. But he still had to deal with his misdemeanor arrest – his first ever.

“I pled it out and got 30 hours community service,” he said. “Still have to do that, but whatever.”

Would he like to do his community service taking down the old no parking signs?

“Yes,” Burgess replied. “If they let me take down the no parking signs that would be awesome.”

And down the street, Lady E was singing. ”I’m happy . . . I am so happy they took those darn signs down!”