BY LINDSAY MYERS — A recent change to parking on the 4800 block of 42nd Avenue has left some circling the block and others sleeping more soundly at night.
On July 12, the Department of Public Works took bright yellow paint to the eastside curb of the 4800 block of 42nd Avenue, the small cross street connecting Decatur and Crittenden Streets near the new Pizza Paradiso and Art Works Now buildings. Emergency signs planted prior to July 12 stated that parking would be closed on the street from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. After 2:00 p.m. the signs were removed, but the parking did not return. The curb had been painted bright yellow, indicating the change was permanent.
The change caused mild grumbling amongst some residents of Crittenden Street. Parking is already prohibited on Crittenden Street, and residents who lack driveways often parked their cars on 42nd Avenue. Visitors to Crittenden Street also took advantage of the small street. Both groups now must park on Decatur Street, which is often busy on the weekends with visitors to Pizza Paradiso, Art Works and the Hyattsville Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Though the city is sympathetic and aware of the parking problem, Jake Rollow, the community services director, said the change was necessary because emergency and public waste vehicles could not easily turn the corner on 42nd Avenue, which is a major safety concern.
Ann Barrett, whose property abuts the east side of 42nd Avenue confirmed how difficult it was to drive down the street with parking on both sides.
“I think it’s important that fire trucks can get through. I’ve had the issue myself on that street where I’ve gotten all the way down that street and had to back up because I couldn’t get through,” said Barrett.
Several years ago, a city councilmember approached Barrett about selling some of her property to the city to potentially widen 42nd Avenue or put in a sidewalk to improve the walkability of the street, but the idea never gained traction.
“Nothing ever came of it. We never had a serious conversation after that,” said Barrett.
When considering changes to city streets, the city responds differently depending on the significance of the possible change. Rollow said that the city will typically call a community meeting to garner feedback when considering the installation of a new stop sign, speed hump or “other device that would alter the flow of traffic.” In the case of the 4800 block of 42nd Avenue the city acted independently of the residents because the street was a safety hazard and is not a major thoroughfare in the neighborhood. Residents were notified of the change via printed notices about a week before the street was painted and were given a two week grace period to adapt to the change before Code Compliance began ticketing on Aug. 1.
Barrett said she is also glad parking has been removed from the eastside of 42nd Avenue because her yard had become a dumping ground for garbage. Prior to her family’s residence, her property had been vacant. 42nd Avenue is dark and relatively shielded from prying eyes. Barrett thinks the cross street gained a reputation for illicit activity that has largely disappeared since the change to parking.
“For me, there were a lot of people parking on that side of the street tailgating at night, drinking alcohol and leaving their six-packs of beer on the road or on my property. So every week I’m coming through and cleaning up that garbage. And now I have a 17-year-old driver and to think about some guy drinking a six-pack and then dropping it in my yard and driving away when we [have] no sidewalk and all these beautiful babies in the neighborhood and young drivers — to me that was more of a concern than losing some of that parking,” said Barrett.