Should Residential Permit Parking Area 43 remain in place as is to provide needed relief for residents competing with Can Company employees for parking spots?
Should the permit area be expanded to include those outside of it, who say that the lack of parking has simply been pushed onto their blocks?
Should the permit area be abolished altogether in favor of a different solution; do permit parking areas “just kick the can further on down the road,” as one resident stated?
These were the questions that emerged during Monday evening’s public hearing onBill 12-0125, which, if approved by City Council vote, would extend Area 43 for an indefinite period of time. First District Councilman Jim Kraft, who moderated the hearing, noted that the bill could also be modified, to enlarge Area 43, shrink it, change the restricted hours, change the number of guest permits a resident may obtain, or change anything in the bill.
As the bill is currently written, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 a.m., those without permits may not park their cars in Area 43 for more than two hours. The restrictions apply to the area bordered on the north and south by Fait and Hudson Streets, and on the east and west by S. Montford and S. Luzerne Avenues.
Monday’s hearing was the first of at least three—the next two are planned for Saturday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m., United Evangelical Church, 3200 Dillon St.; and Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m., City Hall.
At Monday’s hearing, residents, business owners, and concerned parties testified to the City Council’s Land Use and Transportation Committee. The public mostly listened respectfully as testifiers spoke for their allotted two minutes; differing opinions from across the spectrum elicited applause. Eighty-three names were on the sign-up sheet for the meeting, and 26 individuals testified.
Michael Beczkowski, the representative for Area 43, a resident of the parking area who has interfaced with the city, said that he supports keeping it and expanding it.
“We support the area, and we also support expanding the area so some of our neighbors can enjoy the same benefits we have,” he said. “It keeps non-residents from parking there.”
Beczkowski added that everyone within Area 43 supports it.
“Of course you do,” commented several people from the audience.
Leroy Hartman said that he supported the expansion of Area 43. A former employee of the Port of Baltimore, Hartman said, “I would get home at seven at night, and have to ride around for two hours.”
Hartman said that the lack of parking is caused by the businesses in the area.
“I’ve never heard of anybody starting a business without getting off-street parking,” he said. “The Can Company is the problem.”
Dante Beretta had a different take, that permit parking areas in general just “kick the can further on down the road.” The real problem, he said, is that there are “more cars than parking.”
“[With permit parking], some people get decent parking, and tough luck for everybody on the next street,” Beretta said.
Marek Tarasiewicz, a resident from the neighboring Fells Prospect neighborhood, said that the idea that expanded permit parking would give everyone a spot “is an illusion.” He said that other solutions—such as instituting angle parking wherever possible, or helping residents create parking pads behind their homes—were needed.
Permit parking, he said, just “divides and conquers” neighborhoods.
“[Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] already divided this neighborhood, and this neighborhood is going to be conquered,” he said.
Kristin Bailey, who lives just outside of Area 43, said that as an undergraduate, said that because parking permits don’t guarantee a space, she and her undergraduates used to refer to them as “hunting permits.”
This got a laugh out of Councilman Bill Henry.
“My question is where is the complete plan for Canton itself?” said Jacob Pinkham, a resident who lives just outside Area 43.
He said that he, too, has difficulty finding parking, and that double parking is sometimes the only option for unloading his vehicle.
“If I have groceries and I have a child, which do I leave in the car, and which do I take in?” he asked. “Which is child abuse?”
Eloise Bavaria said that though she loves Baltimore, she is “on the cusp of moving.” She said she had initially supported the idea of a permit parking area “if it included me.”
“But I don’t think that’s fair; I don’t think that’s a solution,” she said.
Mike Stevenson, who lives within Area 43, said that a lot of the arguments against the permit parking area “are the exact same ones we had before we got Area 43. It’s because of the businesses.”
A bill which goes beyond Area 43 and proposes to rewrite large parts of the city’s current permit parking statute had originally been scheduled to be part of Monday’s hearing, but was left out in deference to that evening’s Presidential Debate. Bill 12-0102 will be discussed at the next two hearings, and discussion will also continue on Area 43.
by Erik Zygmont