Short-term parking is free in Hyattsville, if you don’t abuse it

Short-term parking is free in Hyattsville, if you don’t abuse it

You have to pay to park near the businesses along Route 1 in Hyattsville, Maryland. It’s not much, but it can still be a hassle. But now, the city is offering short-term parking spots to help you get in and out of the post office or grab a cup of coffee quickly. And it’s free — as long as you don’t abuse it.

The free spots are enforced by cameras.

“They are solar powered units that are motion sensitive,” said Gary Bullis, the parking supervisor in Hyattsville.

Inside these poles that stand about three feet high are cameras, much like the ones used to enforce speed limits or red lights.

“It’ll snap a picture when it detects a vehicle pulling into park and then there’ll be a dead time so that won’t do anything … and then when the vehicle leaves, it snaps a picture again.”

The signs say you have 15 minutes to park, though the city said there is a small grace period. You won’t get a ticket if you’re pulling out at 15:01, for instance. But stay too long, and you’ll get a $35 ticket in the mail, though right now, the city is still handing out warnings instead of fines.

That will change later this month.

“It’s very convenient for people who may want to use the post office or may want to go in and out,” said Reggie Bagley, the city’s operations manager.

But anyone who wants to stay longer only needs to drive a half a block up to use a much bigger parking lot available for longer-term spots.

Right now, there are six spaces on Gallatin Street that have these cameras on a trial basis and the city is already exploring adding more of them. Michael Richards, who owns Will’s Decorating along Route 1, hopes to see more of them.

“It’s really helping the community because people have a place without feeling like they have to pay for it,” he said.

Before the parking was added on Gallatin, he said sometimes people would park in an alley behind his store and block the entrance to his parking lot.

“They would just park right in front of the business they were going to and just leave their car, and sometimes they would leave their car for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and so on,” he said. “It would be chaos, especially on a busy Saturday or Sunday.”

Other businesses are also happy their customers have more options to get in and out quickly.

“They are glad to see the turnover, and they’re glad to see their patrons have access to their businesses on a quick turnaround basis,” Bagley said. “The goal of the city is to make businesses and commerce available to as many patrons as possible. What we’d like to do, we’d like to encourage compliance. That is the, that is the main goal. Of course, when compliance does not happen, there’s often a citation fee associated with that. But again, that’s not the city’s goal.”

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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