GRANOLAPARK: Lexus-lane parking

IMAGE: This could be your car. A suggested parking system would free up more Old Town parking spaces, for a price. Photo by Bill Brown.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

You wanna park in front of the hardware store? That’ll cost you extra.

Takoma Park’s parking study consultant recommends jacking up the parking-meter fares in front of desirable Carroll Avenue stores and restaurants.

But he also recommends jacking down (is that a thing?) parking-meter fares on surrounding streets. Good news for cheapskates who are happy to walk a block to save a quarter.

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These are SO podunk! Photo by Bill Brown.

Brian J. Laverty of Sabra, Wang and Associates, the parking study consultants, did not give actual figures for those fares, but he did note that currently the city’s parking meter standard fee is 75¢ an hour, except when it isn’t. There are some meters that have not been updated – or the meter has been updated but the sticker hasn’t.

Caught in the act of low-tech podunkery, the council and staff all grimaced and blushed in shame.

They cheered up and got bouncy, however, when the consultant suggested high-tech replacements for the city’s embarrassing 20th century parking meters.

They won’t be as fancy as San Francisco’s. Laverty gave the impression that urban-planner wonks lust over that city’s system which shows individual open parking spaces on a map. That requires sensors and probably spy-satellite data and telepathic ants or something.

We won’t be getting that. Training the ants is way too expensive. Instead, Laverty recommended installing pay stations that accept credit cards and pay-by-phone as well as cash.

Take out the dividing lines, he said. Instead of a line of designated parking spaces, make it one long space. That way, smaller cars would take up only their car-length, not a space designed for a big car, leaving room for more cars.

Higher parking rates for spaces closer to popular destinations, and lower rates for spaces a block or more away is a tactic a bit like creating higher-toll “Lexus lanes.” on highways. The higher cost will discourage folks from using them or from taking them for a long time. The result is that those spaces will have a higher turnover and will be more available. On busy days and times, Carroll Avenue spaces are often 100% full, according to the consultant’s study.

The study also shows that spaces a block away are under-used. Putting a lower rate on them would increase their popularity. Laverty did not suggest specific rates. He said the city should start with a close spread, then adjust it wider until they get the desired result – equal percentage of usage.

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The study has some whiz-bang maps.

This was just one area covered in the presentation of the parking study report. The report was based on online parking surveys for resident and business-owners, field studies of the area from Montgomery College to Takoma Junction, including Old Takoma, Takoma, DC and the area around the Takoma Metro – and surrounding residential streets, and compilations of data such as parking violations, average number of vehicles per household, distribution of bike parking, use of Metro, how people get to Metro (bike, bus or walk), population and vehicle increase anticipated from future development, and a lot more.

It KILLS us to admit this, but it looks like the council got a winner with this parking study.

Of course, it’s only about half-way done, and there are public hearing yet. Public hearings can defeat any winner with just a little bit of mis-information and a lot of shouting. We feel better now just thinking about it. Hearings will be in October.

Meanwhile they are still looking for feedback. See the city’s Parking Management Study webpage.

There are some whiz-bang maps in the study. You should take a look. You gotta be impressed that somebody went around and counted each and every public and private parking space from Chicago Avenue to Sycamore Avenue, from the Metro tracks to East-West Highway.

Some interesting facts: there are far more parking violations around Old Town than there are around Montgomery College. The college parking glut is seasonal, and only lasts for the first two weeks of each semester.

 

Laverty also suggested consolidating the city’s five permit districts into two, extending them to 8 p.m., and allowing time-limited non-permit parking between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. (maybe charge for it), Monday through Saturday,

Other suggestions included: creating ride-share loading/unloading zones, making use of private business parking lots in off-hours, posting parking information in prominent places so drivers know where to look for spaces, and unbinding housing rental/parking agreements so those spaces are not left empty all day.

Bicyclists would get more and more distinctive bike racks, and bike corrals, which are – in the example Laverty showed in his presentation, fenced in bike racks. More, regularly spaced bike parking is needed along the Carroll AVenue corridor and other key destinations.

The over-stimulated city council speculated about the city creating its own parking app, and creating an Airbnb system for residential driveways.

Laverty cocked an eyebrow and told them something like, “you know, folks, the parking situation is not. that. bad.”

Aw, gee whiz.

B be gone

The city council killed the B Parking Permit, with a waiver for existing B Permit holders for one year – at the city manager’s discretion. The permit allowed citizens from distant parts of the city to park in designated neighborhoods around Metro. Residents of the near-Metro neighborhood objected to the extra cars on their streets. B Permit holders, mostly in Ward 6, objected to losing them. City Manager Suzanne Ludlow is about to be the recipient of many jars of honey from Ward 6 to sweeten her up as she exercises that discretion.

Bags be gone

The plastic bag ban is finally ready for its first reading – i.e. first vote (of two to make part of city code). The hangup was wording that would give a year’s waiver for farmers markets. Working on what the council said last time it was discussed, city manager Ludlow read them the new wording, first saying “I will tell you what I believe the ordinance says and as long as that’s what people want, we’ll be good to go.”

Not EXACTLY good to go. Councilmember and legal-beagle Rizzy Qureshi sniffed out some awkward wording and suggested another change – which everyone agreed with. So, on to the first reading July 13.

Old Takoma news

Non-council news. Resident Tom Forhan spotted a sign indicating a new restaurant is in the works for Old Takoma. The sign was notice of a Class B liquor license application for, apparently, a restaurant to be called Trattoria Da’Lina. The space is on Carroll Avenue near the corner of Laurel Avenue, in the old bank space next to Dolci Gelati Cafe. Forhan also noted that the “ugly parking lot attendant’s hut has been removed (about two weeks after it was built.” See his comments and the photo he took on the Takoma Voice Facebook page.

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Attendant hut gone, possible location for a new restaurant? Photo by Bill Brown.

– Gilbert

 

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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.