City residential zones to undergo parking changes early next year

Residential parking rules are changing for 2019 after residents and councilmembers complain about an abuse of the system.

By KAANITA IYER — Hyattsville will implement changes in residential parking zones beginning April 15, according to James Chandler, Hyattsville’s assistant city administrator.

The amendments were passed by a vote of 8 to 2 at the city council meeting on Oct. 15, with  councilmembers Paula Perry (Ward 4) and Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) in opposition.

Councilmember Paula Perry said her ward has the most problems when parking enforcement isn’t in effect.

“People have not only cars but they have work vehicles, and it takes up a lot of street, especially in [areas with] multi-family homes, and so I don’t see this parking working any better than it has in the past,” Perry said. She suggested 24-hour regulation, as opposed to the current limited hours of enforcement, which vary by zone.

The plan has been in the works since 2013 when the city evaluated its residential parking program and heard from residents that the city was “not being responsive; there are too many cars, [and] there’s abuse of the system,” Chandler said. He predicts that the new plan will allow city officials to better manage parking spaces.

The city council created the Residential Parking Ad Hoc Committee to review city parking policies, and after several meetings from April to September 2016, the committee submitted recommendations on Sept. 29, 2016. Many of these recommendations are part of the new plan.

According to the plan, every residence will receive between one and four parking permits, which are valid for two years. The number of permits per household will be determined by the availability of off-street parking, such as a driveways.

Residents will also receive a booklet of 50 single-use guest parking passes and one five-day pass. These passes are intended to address the issues of homeowners misplacing multi-use guest passes and claiming that they’ve lost their multi-use pass in an effort to get additional passes for themselves or for unlicensed renters, according to Chris Guinta, code and parking manager.

Streets in residential zones will have nearly 10 percent of parking spaces reserved for guest parking, Chandler said. Residents can apply for special event parking and request a certain number of spaces so they don’t have to use many single-use guest passes. The city will then either meet the request or authorize a number of spaces based on availability and need.

Guinta said that the city will also be installing license plate readers, which parking aides will use to monitor residential zones. Using cameras and computers programmed for each zone, the plate readers will beep when they encounter unregistered license plates.

Other changes include an online application for permits using registered license plate numbers, and a reduced grace period for cars parked without permit, down from two hours to 30 minutes.

The reduced grace period will not be applicable to mixed-use zones within residential parking zones. Guinta said this was because many businesses rely on the two-hour parking to draw customers, and a reduced grace period could discourage customers.

The mixed-use zones include the 4200 block of Gallatin Street, the 4300 block of Hamilton Street, the 4500 block of Buchanan Street and the 4500 block of Burlington Road.

Committee recommendations that were not adopted include adding new parking lots and converting narrow two-way streets into one-way streets. Chandler said that the city will consider these recommendations at a later date using a different transportation study.

According to a list of recommendations obtained by the Hyattsville Life & Times, the committee also suggested sidewalk installation for residential streets currently without sidewalks, as these streets “pose safety risks for pedestrians.” However, Chandler said that the sidewalk installation recommendation is “policy-driven” and is separate from the new plan, which does not include any policy changes.

The changes are currently scheduled to take place on a rolling basis, with implementation in the first batch of zones in April 2019, the second batch in May and the final batch in June. All current permits will be voided once changes take effect, and residents within each zone will receive reminders to register for new permits 45 days prior to the cancellation of their current permits.

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