County holds public hearing on Purple Line parking restrictions proposal

If approved, signs like this one may appear in neighborhoods near Purple Line stations. Photo by Mike Diegel.

The county’s Department of Transportation held a hearing last night on a proposal to create 12 new Residential Permit Parking Areas in East Silver Spring.

The permit parking program began in 1974 as a way to help reduce the impact of parking by non-residents on residential areas near public facilities.

Last night’s presentation covered a proposal to allow RPPAs in neighborhoods within 4,000 feet of four Purple Line light rail stations: Dale Drive, Manchester Place, Long Branch and Piney Branch Road.

The affected areas include communities north of the City of Takoma Park, west of Prince George’s County, south of Indian Spring Drive and east of the existing East Silver Spring and Seven Oaks RPPAs (see map below).

“Although the light rail stations are not scheduled to open until 2022, there has been some concern that Purple Line construction activity may generate off-street parking in surrounding neighborhoods,” said Thomas Tyree, who presented the proposal on behalf of DOT.

While most commuters are expected to get to the stations on foot, bicycle or public transit, Tyree said, there may be those who will want to drive and there will be no parking at these stations (among others).

Once the county executive approves the RPPAs, residents in the eligible areas must petition the DOT to participate in the program. These petitions are distributed on a block-by-block basis and two-thirds of the households on each block must agree to the request before DOT will implement parking restrictions.

Typically, parking is restricted to permit holders only on weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., though hours can be extended on a case-by-case basis, Tyree said.

A permit for a vehicle registered to an address in the restricted block costs $20 per year and can be purchased online. In addition, each household may obtain two transferable visitor permits at no extra charge. Temporary permits (for vehicles belonging to companies performing some service on the residence, etc.) also are free.

Following the presentation, the floor was opened to questions and comments from the attendees, of which there were many. However, a number of the questions, comments and complaints were about issues the permit parking program is not intended to address.

Issues raised included non-resident parking after the restricted hours, the condition and/or narrowness of certain streets already limiting the available space (a common complaint from residents of areas 11 and 12 in Long Branch), or commercial vehicles illegally parked on residential streets.

Other residents thought the proposed areas were in some cases too small to handle the number of vehicles that would need parking, and in other cases too large.

DOT staff will prepare a transcript from the hearing and submit a report to Mike Subin with the county executive’s office, who served as the hearing officer. He in turn will present his report and recommendations to the county executive for the final decision, which is expected to take about four months.

In addition to those made at the hearing, public comments may also be submitted in writing until 5 p.m. on March 14 to [email protected], or mailed to Mr. Christopher Conklin, Acting Chief, Division of Traffic Engineering and Operations, 100 Edison Park Drive, 4th Floor, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

More information is available from the proposal’s FAQs.