Proposed Permit Fee Increases Annoy Residents

Written by on November 7, 2012 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

Residential permit parking rules are likely to change for city residents in the near future, and residents have something to say about it.

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Residents from all over Baltimore came to give testimony on City Council Bill 12-0102, a new residential permit parking bill.

Hearing attendees, some of whom already have permit parking, others who anticipate having it in the future,  asked questions about various permit parking topics. Chief among them alley streets and permit parking, who gets to decide how much tags cost, and which areas are eligible for residential permit parking in the first place.

Councilmen Jim Kraft, Bill Cole, and Mary Pat Clarke were in attendance. Peter Little, director of the Parking Authority, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office and the President of the City Council’s Office also attended the hearing, which was held at the United Evangelical Church at 3200 Dillon St. in Canton.

One concern expressed at the hearing was that alley streets, many of which have little or no on-street parking (such as S. Maderia, S. Duncan, S. Castle, and S. Regester) could be excluded from residential permit parking areas in the future.

“We want it written into law that alleys must be included if they are within one block of a residential permit parking area,” said Victor Corbin, president of the Fells Prospect Community Association.

Another issue raised was the number of hours a non-permit holder could park in a residential permit parking area.

The duration is determined by the individual residential permit parking areas themselves. Some areas offer no non-resident parking; others up to three hours. Most offer two.

A few hearing attendees felt that two hours was not necessarily enough time for visitors to attend events.

“What if someone wanted to attend a dinner at a local church or school in Canton?” one attendee who gave testimony asked.

He felt that three hours would be more appropriate for certain neighborhoods.

Another concern was the cost of residential permit parking tags.

The Parking Authority recently recommended a tiered system, whereby the annual tags for a resident’s first two cars would cost $20 each, as they do currently—but the third would cost $150 (now $20) and the fourth $200 (now $20)

Each dwelling in a residential permit parking area is allowed to purchase up to four parking permits per year.

The tiered system was recommended by the Parking Authority in the Masterplan it created with its Residential Permit Parking Advisory Board last year.

There is a similar recommended fee structure and increase for visitor permits.

The first visitor permit will cost $20 per year; the second would cost $150.

Depending on the rules of each residential parking permit area, residents are allowed to purchase anywhere between zero and two guest permits per year.

The Parking Authority sees the tiered cost structure as a disincentive to having more than two cars in the City.

Some meeting attendees felt that the Parking Authority should have sought public comment before proposing the fee increase for permits and visitor passes. It is within the Parking Authority’s purview at this time to do so.

“There needs to be a public process for adopting these fees,” said Corbin, president of the Fells Prospect Community Association, which feels that Bill 1201-02 should include a requirement for public hearing and give no less than 60 days’ notice to those who live in the residential permit parking areas.

Another question raised at the hearing was the requirement in the bill  that areas must generally contain at least ten adjacent block faces or 100 curb parking spaces to be eligible for residential permit parking.

“I’d like to see more flexibility written into the law in terms of how smaller areas can participate,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

Peter Little, director of the Parking Authority, said other cities allow smaller areas for residential permit parking.

“Some areas in Chicago have smaller residential parking permit areas. A lot of smaller permit parking areas are harder to administer, however. You have to consider the unintended consequences,” Little explained.

Hearing attendees noted that Bill 1201-22 will also make it easier to get a ticket in a residential permit parking area.

The bill states that non permit holders will be limited “during any one calendar day to two hours in any one or more spots” anywhere within a particular residential permit parking area.

“You won’t be able to shift around every two hours, “ says Little.

Drivers who do get tickets in residential permit parking areas, if 1201-22 passes in its current form, will pay a premium.

Illegal parkers will pay $50 for their first violation, $70 for their second, $100 for a third, and $150 for their fourth in a 12-month period.

A final hearing on Bill 12-0102 (and Bill 12-0125, which focuses on Area 43 in Canton) will be held on Wed., Nov. 7, 2 p.m., at City Hall.

by Danielle Sweeney

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