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Do You Want to See a Metered Main Street?

A new program is bringing paid parking downtown.

Free parking on Main Street may soon be a thing of the past. 

County officials said Tuesday night that they hope to have a parking program up and running by September that would include the installation of parking meters on Main Street and Maryland Avenue. 

The program was unveiled at a meeting Tuesday night on the .

Parking meters were on display, along with parking signs, maps and cardboard diagrams to showcase the ways downtown Ellicott City would be changing to make it, as County Executive Ken Ulman contended, “stronger and better able to continue to thrive for the next generation and beyond.”

Representatives from different county offices were at the George Howard Building to answer questions about several of the different projects in the works. 

But most people were talking about parking.

“Most successful places, you always pay for parking,” Nancy Gibson, owner of The  at 8044 Main St. said.

Other meeting attendees, however, expressed concern about the aesthetic impact, the cost and how more paid parking would affect visitors’ propensities to shop in the Historic District, recently named a

“I’m not naive to know that any change in parking may make some people happy and some people unhappy,” Ulman said to a crowd of about 75 business owners, residents and other interested stakeholders at Tuesday night’s meeting. 

In addition to adding more paid spots, the new parking program would include a mobile application that is supposed to give users information about where available spots are in the historic district via information from sensors installed in and above the ground.

Not all parameters have been decided.

“How much is it going to cost to park – and is the revenue slated to go toward Ellicott City?” was a question on everyone’s mind.

The price hasn’t yet been determined, said Diane Schwarzman, chief of the traffic engineering division for Howard County. That issue will be on the agenda for the County Council’s Sept. 3 public hearing. It wasn’t likely, however, that there would be any revenue to funnel toward Main Street, she added.

“Basically, we’re looking at paying the cost of maintenance.”

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Lindsay January 02, 2013 at 03:50 PM
A boycott of the meters will prove that they work. On small historic streets with limited parking, the meters help to force the long-term parkers to move their cars to lots further out rather than hogging the high-demand spaces and/or moving a little bit every two hours to prevent the meter maids from giving them a ticket. One commenter said you need a parking garage. Who will pay for that? On average, EACH space in a parking garage costs $20,000 to $30,000, and people don't like parking in garages. (I encourage anyone to go to any parking garage outside of LA and go to the top level - it'll be empty 9 times out of 10). Meters cost a lot less and usually solve your problem of high demand spaces. No one likes paying for parking, but it's basic economics. When you have a limited quantity of a high-demand good...you raise the price.
Dan Jenkins January 02, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Lindsay: it depends on what you mean by "work." If a measure of the meters "working" is that residents, as you say, are forced to endure greater and greater hardships, then I'm sure a boycott will "work!" If there is to be a parking solution that accounts for the needs of all stakeholders -- including residents -- then metered parking without reasonable concessions to residents does not "work."
Dan Jenkins January 02, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Also, your language makes it seem like resident concerns are frivolous or selfish -- you describe us as "hogging" spaces that are "high-demand," and I think this is unfair. It is reasonable to expect to park in front of one's home without paying, and, indeed, this is how parking in mixed-use areas elsewhere in the region is handled. If Ellicott is to be an exception to this standard, I'd like to hear a good reason why. The argument that this exception will help businesses -- against their will, it seems, since so many opposed the meters -- falls flat. This just seems like so much apologetics on behalf of an administration that decided long ago that they don't care much about us Main Street trolls who hog all the spots.
Dan Jenkins January 02, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Last one: Ellicott City is NOT LA! Not by a long shot.
Lindsay January 02, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Resident concerns are not frivolous or selfish, but it is impossible to provide free parking for everyone at all times right in front of where they want to go. In most downtowns, regardless of size, 9-5 employees are usually the ones guilty of "hogging" spaces. Having a residential permit program is a good idea.

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