OPINION: Paid parking comes to Takoma Park Oct.1

OPINION • BY ZOE STERN, Property Manager of Urciolo Properties

The currently free-to-park lot behind Takoma Old Town stores on Laurel Avenue, Takoma Park, MD will become a pay-to-park lot Oct. 1, 2013. The lot is owned by Urciolo Properties.

Just the facts, ma’am:
• The first hour of parking is free
• Sundays are free
• Thereafter, parking is $2.00/hour with a maximum of $14.00 daily
• Lost tickets are $14.00

Yo Takoma Park, We Ain’t No Bethesda or Silver Spring!

Or are we? What do Bethesda and Silver Spring have in common? Paid parking AND a plethora of shoppers who patronize said lots while visiting the business establishments those lots serve, bringing with them a vibrancy to their downtowns and positively impacting their local economy and surrounding residential property values.

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Parking lot gateway under construction.

As the first signs of the new and imminent paid parking lot behind the Takoma Metro Shopping Center (the shops along Laurel Avenue) began to appear, the hue and cry of the self-entitled echoed throughout the land. That the community has enjoyed years, nay decades, of free parking was seemingly neither remembered nor appreciated in the ensuing winds of change.

Ennui had set in!

Questions and answers

“But the first hour will be free!” cried the property manager. A disgruntled few became merely gruntled, breathing an audible sigh of relief.

“Sundays will also be free so you can enjoy the local farmers market at your leisure!” she nervously added. A few more naysayers were begrudgingly won over.

“Why don’t you put in meters?” asserted many others who still cried foul.

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The lot is often full or nearly-full.

“This is private property, not City property. The property owner submitted two major proposals to the City wherein he would pay for the meters and development while the City would be responsible for revenue collecting and policing of meters. Revenues collected would then go toward maintenance – snow removal, trash removal, re-striping, etc. After those costs were paid, any remaining revenue would then be split between the City and the property owner. All proceeds collected from any ticketing by the City would be kept by the City. However, the City politely declined,” the ever increasingly put upon property manager replied.

“Why now?” an unrelenting few persisted.

High-jacked by Metro patrons

“Construction around the area has parking at a premium. Parking earmarked for customers of our Main Street are being high-jacked by Metro patrons. Paid parking is a deterrent to this activity and more cost effective than employing round the clock monitoring and towing services. When the new restaurants are complete and open for business, parking spaces will be even more sought after. “

“Would you really rather not pay for parking and have no spaces available or pay an average of one dollar for the first two hours and be able to patronize your favorite local shops and restaurants? You can’t park there now because there are no spaces, but are you really saying that once there are spaces you won’t park because you will be out four quarters? ” a now raspy voiced property manager replied, adding a gentle reminder that a study was done two years ago that named Takoma Park the most walkable city in Maryland.

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Parking lot exit gate onto Eastern Ave. NE.

“Paying for parking will lose the beloved businesses that we patronize at least once a year their customers!” insisted a stubborn few.

“See paragraph one.” The final words ever uttered by our now former property manager as she broke into a hideous and frightening combination of hysterical laughter and sobs while speeding off to her local wine purveyor.

*Polite inquiries should be directed to Zoe Stern, Property Manager of Urciolo Properties, at zoe.stern@comcast.net

3 Comments on "OPINION: Paid parking comes to Takoma Park Oct.1"

  1. Nice stated, and I think it sounds like a smart solution.

  2. I understand the need for paid parking. However, I think $2 per hour after the first hour is excessive. I think a more reasonable approach is to either charge $1 per hour, or have the first two hours free. We will discourage shopping here (especially with the holiday season close at hand) if we make parking more expensive than in other suburban areas,

  3. If we need a Silver Spring/Bethesda solution, then why is the parking lot not a parking garage?

    And what about the other lot? It’s ridiculous how inefficient the parking is back there. There are two medium-sized lots that the two owners refuse to connect up in any way. It should be one big lot. We could have more store fronts or expanded interiors or outdoor seating, and better access to the stores on Westmoreland.

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