Kevin Roman, Director of Neighborhood Services, reviewed the history of permit parking in the city, noting that it was first instituted in one neighborhood in 1979.
Currently, there are nine areas of the city where permits are required to park on the street. Roman discussed the results of a recent survey of residents living in or near these areas, which indicated overwhelming public support for the continued use of permit parking, as well as their concerns about its being implemented equitably in the city. He listed staff recommendations, including requiring proof of residency, to obtain a permit and the collection of a nominal fee.
Several city residents testified during the public comment period.
“We’ve had problems for years with the condo, Villa Ridge, across the street,” said Cydney Sherman. “For years, they were coming into our neighborhood and parking and leaving their cars for days on end. Now there’s signage up saying that you can’t park between 11 and 5, and that’s solved that, but now we can’t park on the street, so if we have overnight guests or anything like that, we’re parking in our yards. We’d really like to get permit parking.”
“I was instrumental in starting this program,” said Joan Berkowitz, a resident of Olde Towne Gaithersburg for over 40 years. “At the time, we had commuters who would park their cars on Park Avenue, then take the MARC train down to D.C. But in over 43 years, Olde Towne Gaithersburg has turned from an almost rural area into an urban area. The apartments at the end of Park Avenue used to be only one hundred; now there are four hundred there, and they only get one parking space, so there’s overflow because they park everywhere. The problem is still there, but it changes its face, so we do still need permit parking on Park Avenue. One of the aspects of the program that worked really well when it was implemented was that we had a permit for our vehicle and then two guest passes. When I talked to Scott, who’s in charge of the police program, he said there was concern that the privilege was being abused, and so it was discontinued. I thought that actually worked very well.”
“For the past two years, you cannot park on our street,” said Becky Butler. “Commercial vehicles are a big problem. This weekend, you couldn’t even get one car in because there were five commercial vans parked on the weekends. People clean out their cars and leave the trash on the road. As for enforcement issues, you call the police when a car has been there for more than 48 hours; the police come and put the sticker on the car, but people come out and remove the sticker. You call again, and it goes on and on. The car never gets towed. You’re on the phone to the police for 20 minutes explaining what the problem is. And it has be the City of Gaithersburg who comes, because Montgomery County Police don’t understand the policy. That needs to be resolved.”
“This is surely not the last time we’ll be discussing this issue,” Ashman said, “But I think we’ve gotten some really good guidance here, and I thank you all for caring enough about your communities to come out and talk to us.”