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Zones, Tags and More: Solutions for Resident Parking

Residents gave Steve Lafferty a host of ideas for how to incorporate residents into the county's new parking plan.

Residents of the Historic District are also shoppers, so where, one Main Street resident wanted to know, do residents fit in the county’s new parking project? 

“Please keep this in mind,” Kelly Secret said at a meeting held Tuesday evening to address residential parking solutions. “We spend more money in town than any tourist." 

About 30 people attended the meeting with Department of Planning and Zoning Director of Special Projects Stephen Lafferty to express concerns and offer suggestions for a residential parking program. 

At a meeting on Aug. 21, County Executive Ken Ulman announced a plan to install multi-space parking meters on Main Street and Maryland Avenue and to introduce "Parker," a phone application that uses underground sensors to map out where, at any moment, there are available parking spaces.

The plan was guided in part by a study done in 2009 by Desman Associates. One of the study’s recommendations was to “develop a lower cost employee- and resident-parking program at the rate of $30 per month for peripheral lots and $50 for core lots.” 

The study refers to lot D, behind the Howard County Welcome Center, and lot E, behind Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, as “core lots.” 

But at the time the parking changes were announced, there was no plan to create residential parking program. 

At Tuesday's meeting, held at St. Paul's Church, several Historic District residents said they were concerned that once meters went into effect – after Jan. 1 – visitors would look for free parking on the side streets. 

“If we could get resident parking on the spillover streets,” a Merryman Hill resident said, “That would be greatly appreciated.”

The 15-minute grace period for meters, others noted, was not long enough for residents to bring groceries up to their apartments or shuffle loads of laundry from the laundry mat. "Sometimes it takes 15 minutes just to cross the street" one resident chimed in.

In addition to residential parking zones, where parking would be restricted to residents who obtained parking passes from the county, other suggestions included:

  • Free parking using residential parking cards that residents would use in the parking meters. Having a card would alert the meter – and parking enforcement - that the user was a resident and, therefore, did not have to pay.
  • Two additional hours of free parking during the week for residents.
  • Street parking spaces dedicated to residents at certain times of the day
  • A trolley service between the Historic District and outlying parking lots.

The meeting was the first step in a discussion between the county and residents, according to Lafferty. On Wednesday he said that there were “multiple ideas” that he would present to a group including the Departments of Finance and Public Works, the County Executive’s office and the Central parking vendor, among others. 

Lafferty said Tuesday evening that he did not expect a solution by the time the county turned on the meters - Jan. 1. or soon thereafter.

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Archana November 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Is there some kind of email list or blog etc. regarding this issue that I can get on? I received a flyer in my mailbox for the first such meeting scheduled for 10/29 but likely not held because of Hurricane Sandy, but did not know about Tuesday's meeting. Thanks for collecting resident's input. If there are permits for residents on spillover streets (of which I am one), what about for our visitors....as a proud historic district resident I often have visitors for several days at a time who, together with me, spend lots of time and money in the historic district. If they can not park in front of my house that would be quite inconvenient.
Dan Jenkins November 29, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Anyone who lives in Howard County should be terrified. Here we have residents begging for permission to park for free on side streets, when they should be granted parking passes to park on Main Street (within the two-hour limit) -- which is what the regional standard is. Go to Baltimore and DC and you will see exactly this. I am deeply concerned that, despite this meeting, residents should expect paid parking to be enforced with no plan developed to accommodate them, and no deadline to develop and implement such a plan. This is why I am moving to a different county. I don't know where I will move if this administration makes it to the State House.
Brandie Jefferson November 29, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Hi Archana, You're right, the earlier meeting was cancelled and rescheduled because of Sandy. You can email Steve Lafferty at slafferty@howardcountymd.gov and he should be able to put you on a mailing list so that you can keep up with the meetings.
Mooser 58 November 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I have friends who live in DC and they pay $1800/year/car to park in their neighborhood. I don't see any mention here of any discount or help for employees of businesses on Main Street. I have had 2 daughters work at shops on Main Street and received many parking tickets and were constantly on the look out for the parking police. They would sometimes have to close the shop to go move their cars every 2 hours depending on how strict the parking police were. You are going to run out of spaces if you designate spaces for residents, businesses & employees. I never understood why people had to park on Main Street when part of the charm of shopping in Ellicott City is walking around. I would prefer no parking on Main Street and a parking garage at each end of Historic Ellicott City.
steve collins November 29, 2012 at 08:52 PM
So. We have a costly new parking system not really wanted by anyone in Ellicott City, though maybe not opposed by everyone, that will probably trigger feelings of resentment by long term visitors to Ellicott City, that obviously was not thought through where residents of Ellicott City were concerned, and will in no discernible fashion solve the parking problem in EC. Way to go Kenny. Governor? I think not.
Brandie Jefferson November 29, 2012 at 08:56 PM
BJ, I love the idea of no parking, or even no cars - a pedestrian street. Of course, I don't see that happening until there's another road, besides rt 40 that goes through town.
Mooser 58 November 29, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I think Howard county is the most Un-walking friendly of counties I have lived in. There are very few sidewalks to allow people to safely walk from neighborhood to neighborhood, or just shopping. Route 40, Rogers Ave. and Frederick Road (Main St) are the most dangerous roads to walk along. Especially with people talking on the phone or texting, and going more than 40 miles per hour. Take a look at Montgomery county, there are paths and sidewalks along so many roads, you could walk for miles and never be in danger of getting hit by a distracted driver. I would love to be able to walk to Main Street from where I live off Rogers but it is too dangerous.
TSB December 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Most of you miss the point of the two hour parking limit and ultimately the parking fee. The businesses need turnover of customers and having available parking gets people in and out quicker, more people more money. Long term parking is further away in the lots behind buildings. During the working hours residents and employees should not be parking along Main Street. I visit Ellicott City fairly frequently and almost always park in a lot and walk around because there is never parking on the street. Because the workers and residents don’t want to make it easier for the people helping to subsidize their lives (either by salary or keeping the rent down) the drastic measure of the parking meters was initiated. You the workers and residents are the cause of this so stop complaining. Additionally
FRANCIS December 03, 2012 at 06:27 PM
TSB is absolutely correct, but very few of those who are against parking fees will ever actually understand the concept. As a result, I have not visited Main Street in years and will not do so again until I see if this improvement provides the intended result. It was also a big mistake to implement free parking for the holidays- it is going to cause even fewer spots to be open in order for visitors to spend money in the shops and restaurants.
Peter Edelen December 05, 2012 at 10:10 AM
We will complain. We live here 24/7, 365 days a year. You obviously missed the point the first time. We LIVE here. Thirdly, WE LIVE HERE.
john stephens December 06, 2012 at 07:22 PM
There was already a two hour limit. How does having to pay for those two hours actually add more spots ? Many employees park on Frederick road in Balt. county and walk across the bridge. I see them every day. Those that don't, might continue what they've been doing ; it will cost money now. Perhaps cars will now line up all the way to Highs. Adding an expensive gimmick to the equation, and then charging residents $360 to $600 a year to help finance it, is extortion, and most importantly, creates NO NEW SPACES. More parking areas are needed, before assigning specific spots to specific categories of people. this is messed up
Mooser 58 December 06, 2012 at 11:46 PM
They did paint lines for the parking spots on the street so at least people can't spread out when they park and leave big gaps. I do think this may have helped create some extra spots. Its an old mill town, enjoy and make do with what we have. People can park in the court house parking lot and walk down to Main St. People need to walk more and that is part of the "Main Street" experience. Residents and businesses can purchase annual parking permits if they want the convenience of parking on Main Street. Anyone who lives on Main St. knew the parking situation when they moved there. Its not extortion its progress. Too much complaining and whining. Get over it and take a walk. Walking will be good for everyone.
Peter Edelen December 06, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Exactly, we knew the parking situation when we chose to live here. A majority of us are not asking for unlimited free parking. We understand the need for turnaround on the street parking. The proposals we brought to the meeting were no more than what we have now, when we chose to live here. We asked for better patrols in the lots where a lot of hit and runs and vandalisms occur after dark. We asked for two hours a day on the weekdays so we can park near home when we get home from work without paying. We didn't ask for any free time on the weekends. I hardly call that whining and complaining. We just asked for what we have now and more secure and safer parking lots.
AvgSteve December 07, 2012 at 07:45 AM
First of all, if they are going to charge us for a resident pass then they have to provide parking. A pass doesn't promise a spot, therefore they cannot charge us. Also, the vast majority of parking issues are in the evening when the spaces have no limits, so how does this supposed "solution" solve that issue? Just see this for what it truly is, a way for Howard County to raise funds from parking and more so, tickets. Oh yeah also to give contracts without a real bidding process! And to the walking proponent. Where would we walk from? I walk everyday regardless of where my car is parked. Maybe we can attach those pedometers and require a certain amount of walking and then give a healthcare discount.....
john stephens December 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't see a solution for residents. Obviously , living on Main street comes with inconvenient parking. But Ulman's apps don't do any good either. There are still the same number of limited spaces during peak hours. ( and as stated above, the peak hours do not coincide with the two hour limit period and fees.) What Ulman's app does, is create a revenue shortfall, and require an increased and expanded fee system to an already established parking policy. Hey Ken Ulman, the parking in Old Towne E.C. has gotten increasingly difficult over the last decade. not a perception, just the way it is
Gayle Charlene Killen December 07, 2012 at 03:23 PM
For Historic District Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/historic.ellicott.city/ For Parking Solution specific: https://www.facebook.com/groups/162337257240057/ And while I'm at it, Flood Solution specific: https://www.facebook.com/groups/453420644686761/
Sara Arditti December 10, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Is anyone now using the Parker app? Is the new sensor-guided parking system as effective as promised? The county said it would guide people into open parking spaces- does it in fact do that? Please leave your comments and feedback here. I led the fight to oppose the system, but it was pushed through despite the opposition of at least 65% of the Historic District business owners and untold numbers of residents.
Joe December 10, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Does the system "see" a motorcycle parked in a spot if not directly over a sensor?

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