Residents Navigate Tricky Parking Process

Since Montgomery County halted controversial parking meter installation on Chevy Chase Drive and Offut Lane, residents there have been navigating a time-consuming process for getting parking permits.

Debrah Shaver, who is on the board of the Bradley House Condominium Association, says the county requires a petition with signatures from two-thirds of the residents on Chevy Chase Drive and Offut Lane in order to grant residential parking permits. Many in the neighborhood feel they shouldn’t have to collect those signatures at all.

“We kind of feel this was being forced upon us, so why do we have to go get a petition,” Shaver said. “We are fine with the way it is right now. Why should we have to go get it changed?”

The county Department of Transportation says commuters who live outside the neighborhood use the spaces for free parking. That’s why officials included the installation of 28 parking meters on Chevy Chase Drive and 17 on Offut Lane in their fiscal year 2013 budget.

But when that installation began in mid-October, residents cried foul.

“It just doesn’t even make sense,” said Emily Struck, president of the Chevy Chase Condominium Board. “You can put your zoned [residential] parking in fine and raise your money just fine.”

Others disputed the county’s assessment that commuters even park on the street during the day, contending that it is too far outside Bethesda’s downtown area.

After a back-and-forth between the DOT and Bethesda Councilmember Roger Berliner’s office, the installation was cancelled. That began the process of creating a residential permitting system.

Shaver said DOT officials have since conducted another survey in which they found a number of cars parked on the street during the day that were registered to people with addresses far from the neighborhood. But Shaver said she’d like to see a fuller study to prove those people are using the spots to avoid paying public parking fees in downtown Bethesda.

Meanwhile, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center has told Shaver it is putting together a meeting on the topic.

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