Rules limit parking for RVs and large trucks
County police to begin enforcing restrictions July 1
A clarification was made to this story on June 25, 2009. An explanation of the clarification is at the end of the story.
Police badge? Check. Gun? Check. Measuring tape? Check.
Montgomery County Police have added a law-enforcement tool to their belts to enforce parking restrictions that ban large vehicles from most public roads. Trailers, recreational and commercial vehicles are subject to $75 tickets beginning July 1.
Police outreach, including neon stickers on vehicles illegally parked, community meetings and fliers have been distributed to educate motorists, which the County Council passed unanimously Jan. 27.
"It's not like we've shut down the county, we've just prohibited some of the places people can park commercial trucks and recreational vehicles," said County Councilman Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown.
Recreational vehicles such as campers, motor homes and boats will be allowed to park on county roads for 18 hours for loading and unloading, said Capt. Thomas Didone, commander of the 5th District police station. Commercial vehicles—a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds and more than 21 feet long and eight feet high—will be restricted to industrially zoned streets. Motorists can park commercial vehicles if it is being used for work at the time or if it is a bus dropping off or picking up passengers, Didone said.
"We're going out that day and doing enforcement and we'll see how many people are actually following the new law," Didone said.
As long as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles don't exceed restrictions, residents won't be ticketed but should consider "parking those in their driveway," Didone said.
"If need be, officers will measure trucks and trailers in order to find out if it is in violation," said police spokeswoman Officer Megan Duffey, who said all officers were issued measuring tapes.
County Council President Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said the law will improve public safety.
"You don't need an RV or a tractor trailer obstructing the view of a motorist," Andrews said. "A motorist has to see people crossing the streets and pedestrians need to see cars coming around corners."
Knapp said he "interacted" with truckers and recreational vehicle owners over the last few years about where they could park and store their vehicles. The County Council is "still trying to find a place for additional long term parking" for large vehicles, Knapp said.
Bob Hydorn, president of the Montgomery Village Foundation, said prospective home buyers are reluctant to buy homes in his community when they see commercial vehicles parked along the streets.
"Commercial vehicles need to be in a commercial area, not a residential one," Hydorn said. "And if you own a boat or a travel trailer, you should have a place you can rent a spot from to store it in and not leave it on the street."
Truckers will be able to park on Airpark Road between Queenair Drive and Woodfield Road in Gaithersburg; Gateway Center Drive between Clarksburg Road and Shawnee Lane near Silver Spring; and Prosperity Drive between Cherry Hill Road and Industrial Parkway near Bethesda among other places, Andrews said.
Parking for truckers is becoming scarce across the country as new ordinances are adopted, truck stops are closing and housing developments are built, said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association based in Missouri.
"We've seen this kind of ordinance pop up in communities across the country," Taylor said. "A lot of times, a new residential development comes along and the people living there don't want to see big trucks there."
Taylor said truck drivers provide a needed service to consumers.
"A shortage of parking hurts truckers because it hinders their ability to operate efficiently and comply with hours of service regulations," Taylor said. "If they are unable to park near their homes, it means an added cost for locating and paying for a place to park at another location away from their home."
The following areas have been identified as parking zones for heavy commercial vehicles only:
-Airpark Road between Queenair Drive and Woodfield Road
-Bonanza Way between Snouffer School Road and Beechcraft Avenue
-Cessna Avenue between Airpark Road and road's end
-Chennault Way between Airpark Road and Rickenbacker Drive
-Earhart Court between Snouffer School Road and Road End
-Mooney Drive between Snouffer School Road and Beechcraft Avenue
-Queenair Drive between Airpark Road and Cessna Avenue
-Rickenbacker Drive between Woodfield Road and road's end
-Medical Center Drive
-Medical Center Way
Source: Montgomery County Councilman Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist.2)
Visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council, then click on Councilmembers, then Mike Knapp.
Clarification: The list of approved parking locations for commercial vehicles was updated. Commercial vehicles cannot park on Professional Drive in Gaithersburg.