Village considers parking restrictions
Residents want spots near homes protected, others say limits would be unfair
Finding a parking spot around Chevy Chase Village and its post office may get harder as officials consider tightening restrictions for the general public.
Options from a parking enforcement officer to restricting parking on a street adjacent to the heavily-used post office on Connecticut Avenue are being considered, following the submission of three petitions to the village's Board of Managers to restrict parking on sections of three village streets and a board discussion Monday evening.
Supporters of further parking restrictions argued that increasing commercial development to the west of the village in Friendship Heights, as well as the more restrictive policies of other Chevy Chase municipalities, made it necessary to reduce non-resident parking on village streets. Others, however, argued that this would amount to "privatizing" public streets and would only push the problem to other areas.
One of the proposals would prohibit parking on the north side of West Lenox Street, which north of the post office, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for village residents. The street is heavily used by people going to the post office, including several non-residents such as business owners. The post office only has four designated parking spots.
"The problems we face on a daily basis include: inability to park in proximity to our own homes; inability for friends and family to park nearby; blocked driveways; limited access for emergency vehicles; limited access for deliveries; safety concerns due to transient users haphazardly parking in front of our homes," West Lenox Street resident Luis Medeiros, a supporter of restricting parking on the street, wrote to the board.
Creating two-hour parking in front of his house would not work, Medeiros argued, since cars are usually parked in front of his house for less than 30 minutes and once they leave are immediately replaced by other people using the post office.
But others who have post office boxes at the facility, such as small business owners like Ross Heller, argued that restricting parking on West Lenox Street would be unfair, especially since parking on Connecticut Avenue at the front of the post office is generally prohibited.
"I think it would be a very real inconvenience, particularly to the older patrons of the post office," Heller said.
Board members agreed to draw up four to five proposals in the near future to address the situation generally, instead of on a case-by-case basis.
If those who support restricting parking on their streets to residents only get their way, former board member Susie Eig testified to the board, "They should be able to park there, and nowhere else in the village."
Residents do receive parking permits for zones in the village west of Laurel Parkway and south of Hesketh Street. Non-resident cars that remain in those zones receive $50 parking citations at varying hours, ranging from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., if they are parked longer than the allotted time windows, ranging from two to four hours.
Police officers already spend about two-thirds of their time in the village dealing with parking issues and tracking non-resident cars for parking violations, according to village police Chief Roy Gordon.
Residents of certain portions of Center Street wanted to restrict parking to residents only at all times because of its proximity to Friendship Heights. Residents of part of Kirkside Drive, meanwhile, wanted an extension of restricted parking hours, since they said restaurant workers in Friendship Heights parked their cars in front of their houses until late at night.
In the Town of Chevy Chase on streets with restricted parking, cars without resident permits or passes can be towed at any time.