It costs Jebby Rasputnis less to pay a daily parking fee near her Washington, D.C. office than it does to leave her car in a county garage near her apartment in south Silver Spring.
Rasputnis and fellow south Silver Spring resident Melissa Stein testified before the county council on April 24 about the need for the creation of a residential parking permit, a cheaper alternative in a growing neighborhood with few other parking options. They argued residents, many of whom would rather Metro to work, are being forced to drive when they should be encouraged to use public transportation and avoid congestion.
Many pay for a monthly PCS permit to park in the Kennett Street Garage. Rates for the permit increased from $95 a month to $113 a month at the beginning of this year and would increase to $132 a month starting next year in County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed fiscal year 2013 operating budget.
“It’s become an increasingly residential neighborhood and many of the residents don’t have parking,” said Rasputnis, who lives with her husband in the Aurora Condominiums on Eastern Avenue. The majority of the units do not include a parking space. “The only parking that’s available is in the county lots and they are priced for commuters.”
Council members Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring and George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park will introduce a proposal for a residential parking permit in the coming weeks, Leventhal said Thursday. In March, the county Department of Transportation proposed a lease of about 300 Kennett Street Garage spaces to Discovery Communications. Much of the 592-space garage goes unused.
“Their point is meritorious,” Leventhal said. “By living there, they make the neighborhood safer. If we’re going to be offering discounted parking to Discovery because it’s an important asset, we need to do the same for residents because they are too.”
In testimony before the council last month, South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association President Brian Savoie asked for a residential parking permit that would cost about $70 per month.
Leventhal said council staff is working on the details of the proposal.
Rick Siebert, chief of management services in the county’s Division of Parking Management, joined Ervin and Leventhal in January to discuss parking fee issues with about 40 south Silver Spring residents. He told residents that fees for parking passes fund the maintenance and construction of parking garages in the Silver Spring central business district. He worried a fee decrease would create a deficit in the budget.
Stein, who also lives on Eastern Avenue, said finding parking is more difficult because the sidewalk on her street is in Washington, D.C., where parking rules are aggressively enforced.
“These parking fees feel punitive to a community that depends largely on public transportation and that supports the growing urban district,” Stein told the council. “If these fees continue, my family will be forced to reconsider our place of residence.”