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NIH Public Meeting Brings Up Old Issues Of Traffic, Parking

by Aaron Kraut | April 9, 2014 at 9:40 am | 322 views | 4 Comments

National Institutes of Health

Some of the fewer than 10 residents who attended a public meeting on Tuesday expected answers as to why the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health should have a higher parking space rate than other federal agencies.

Those answers weren’t forthcoming Tuesday. The formal public commenting process doesn’t allow for questions and answers with NIH officials on the spot.

NIH will respond later to the questions voiced Tuesday and all written comments about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for its 20-year master plan. But the meeting underscored the agency’s position that it must retain its 2-to-1 parking space per employee ratio, despite federal standards that push for a 3-to-1 parking space per employee number.

This has been of great concern to nearby residents and Montgomery County officials who see the daily traffic impact the campus of more than 20,000 employees has on Bethesda.

With a master plan that calls for 3,000 additional employees at the campus over the next 20 years, a few residents from surrounding neighborhoods announced their disgust that NIH wasn’t seeking the lower parking ratio.

In a presentation before the comments, NIH Director Ricardo Herring emphasized that none of the new buildings in the master plan (of which there are more than a dozen) are budgeted. NIH Environmental protection specialist Mark Radtke said only about 650 of the expected 3,000-employee increase will be new hires.

The rest will come from off-site NIH facilities that are being consolidated on campus, something Radtke said would help relieve traffic in other areas of Montgomery County.

The redevelopment mostly consists of converting old laboratories — some old and prominent enough to be considered for the National Register of Historic Places — to administrative space, while building newer labs with better technology and energy efficiency.

Old parking lots would be consolidated into parking garages and there would be a 3 percent increase in open space on the campus at full build-out of NIH’s preferred development plan.

Richard Levine, a leader of the Locust Hill Neighborhood just northeast of the Cedar Lane, Rockville Pike intersection, commented that NIH’s traffic studies are outdated and shouldn’t be used to make decisions about the next 20 years of campus development.

Levine pointed toward the county’s master plan for bus rapid transit and an anticipated bus rapid transit corridor that would use dedicated lanes on Rockville Pike right by the NIH campus.

NIH did its traffic studies in 2011 ahead of the presentation of its master plan. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which usually comes before or with a master plan, wasn’t ready in time and was presented in March.

Another resident who spoke questioned if NIH had done enough outreach to promote the public meeting, held about four miles away at the Little Falls Library on Massachussetts Avenue — what some said was too far away from the affected neighborhoods.

Karen Kuker-Kihl, a Pooks Hill resident and candidate for the House of Delegates in District 16, commented that NIH’s reluctance to push for fewer parking spaces would contribute to air pollution.

Those were the only three people who commented on Tuesday. Written comments can be sent to Valerie Nottingham, Division of Environmental Protection, National Institutes of Health, Building 13, Room 2S11, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892 or e-mailed to nihnepa[at]mail[dot]nih[dot]gov.

Chevy Chase Village Hopes To Get Rid Of Unnecessary Street Signs

by Aaron Kraut | April 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm | 200 views | No Comments

Illegal parking near an intersection in Chevy Chase Village, via Chevy Chase Village Illegal parking on a curb in Chevy Chase Village, via Chevy Chase Village

There are 49 “Neighborhood Watch” signs in Chevy Chase Village and no Neighborhood Watch, three “This Area Under Surveillance” signs and no active video surveillance and 40 “Bump” signs that are dozens of feet away from actual speed bumps.

The 0.43-square mile town of about 2,000 residents is ready to tear down, replace, clean off and change up its collection of hundreds of street signs after a survey found a number of oddities.

The Village’s police chief and another officer in the department surveyed all of the town’s 935 street signs over a two-month period last fall.

They found a number of changes need to be made, including the unnecessary signage and trouble spots where the lack of “No Parking” signs might be leading to parking near intersections and over curbs.

The Village is accepting comments about the new sign policy, which will go into effect as recommended unless residents send in objections.

Police Chief John Fitzgerald suggested tightening up the Village’s policy for bump warning signs. The policy now lets the Public Works Department place the signs wherever it “finds most suitable.” But that was before the Village came up with its official Speed Hump Policy in 2011, which could be part of the reason why some signs are very far from actual speed bumps.

One is as far away as 100 feet from the bump.

Fitzgerald also recommended getting rid of the 49 “Neighborhood Watch” signs and three “This Area Under Surveillance signs.”

He also recommended removing all “Traffic Laws are Photo Enforced” signs in areas where there are actually no speed or traffic cameras — except for three of the signs along Brookville Road, where there is no speed camera.

“There are only 3 such signs along Brookville; this roadway is heavily traveled and leaving them in place may have a calming effect on traffic on that roadway,” Fitzgerald wrote.

He also suggested adding 21 “No Parking Any Time” signs near “Stop” signs, intersections and other problem areas where curbside parking reduces sight lines and could block roads.

Photos via Chevy Chase Village

NIH Standing Firm On Parking Ratio

by Aaron Kraut | March 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 552 views | 10 Comments

NIH entrance map and major road routes, via NIH NIH Master Plan map, new buildings are in yellow, via NIH

NIH’s preferred alternative for development on its Bethesda campus keeps the current one parking space per two employee ratio, despite newer standards from the National Capital Planning Commission that call for fewer parking spots to encourage more use of transit.

In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released this month, NIH says it will stick to the 2-to-1 employee to parking spot standard because the 3-to-1 ratio is unrealistic:

NIH views the NCPC goal as unrealistic for NIH because of the high concentration of employees at the Bethesda Campus, and the wide geographical dispersion of its employees throughout the region. A Metro Station (Medical Center) is located on the campus; however, it does not adequately serve NIH’s employees’ transportation needs as many live beyond the areas served by mass transit alternatives.

Employees who live beyond the range of the radial Metro system do not have economical or efficient means of transportation alternatives. For example, east of the campus there is no mass transit cross connection between eastern Montgomery County and Prince George’s County where a significant number NIH employees live. Similarly, the significant numbers of employees who reside in Frederick, Howard, Carroll, Anne Arundel, Calvert or St. Mary’s Counties, Baltimore, or Northern Virginia, have few, if any, mass transportation options. There are also a number of NIH employees that commute from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. NIH is committed to the previously accepted Transportation Management Plan and would continue to promote the reduction of traffic in the Bethesda area.

There are roughly 20,594 people who work on the campus today, making NIH the largest employer in Montgomery County.

It is now seeking community feedback on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is required for its 2013 Master Plan. That Master Plan would seek to demolish, renovate and rebuild more than a dozen buildings on the 310-acre campus to accommodate about 3,000 additional employees.

Those employees would come from NIH facilities off-campus, in leased office buildings and research facilities that account for the agency’s greatest costs.

New construction would also include new parking garages to replace surface lot parking. According to the Draft EIS, there are 10,302 total parking spaces on the NIH campus today. Without visitor spaces, that total number is 9,208.

Using the 9,208 number, the NIH says it is within the 0.50 employee-to-parking space ratio required. But that agreement was made in 1992.

The National Capital Planning Commission, which oversees development of federal land in the D.C. area, is now pushing the 0.33 ratio, something NIH says it simply cannot reach.

(more…)

MoCo Introduces ‘Smart’ Parking Meters In Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | February 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm | 277 views | 1 Comment

Montgomery County’s changeover to credit card-enabled on-street parking meters began Monday in Bethesda.

It’s the first step of what the county’s Department of Transportation says is a more advanced way to manage and track parking options in an area with a reputation of being difficult to park in.

The new meters include a slot for credit or debit card payment and a solar-powered battery screen that will display how much time remains at each meter.

The county installed about 160 of the meters on Monday, along the east side of Wisconsin Avenue, Cordell Avenue and Rugby Avenue. MCDOT hopes to have the smart meters installed on all 840 on-street meters in Bethesda by the end of the week.

MCDOT expects to eventually replace all on-street meters with the smart meters in its other parking districts: Silver Spring, Wheaton and Montgomery Hills. The department is also looking at upgrading meters in its lots and garages.

The entire project will cost about $750,000, including another phase that will put in-pavement sensors in each on-street space. Those sensors will allow the county to know when a space is occupied and empty, leading to a phone app to help drivers find empty spaces in real time.

“That is a real concern here in Bethesda, where we are challenged as it relates to the availability of parking spaces,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said during a Monday press event to introduce the meters. “I want to commend the Department of Transportation for their innovative approach to this. I know it will be something our residents will find helpful and convenient and I hope they will continue to work with us as we look at new and innovative approaches.”

The sensors will be installed in the next two months.

The meters are from San Diego-based IPS Group.

Cash keys will no longer be accepted at the smart meters, but will continue to work in parking lots and garages. People who no longer want cash keys can trade the keys in for a card of equal value that will work in the smart meter credit card reader.

Those exchanges can be made at the Bethesda Parking Store (4720 Chelthenham Dr.).

Bethesda Parking Meters To Take Credit Cards Starting Next Week

by Aaron Kraut | February 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 336 views | No Comments

Parking meters on Bethesda RowMontgomery County next week will replace the tops of all 840 on-street parking meters in Bethesda with meters that include credit card slots.

The changeover to smart parking meters is expected to start Monday morning and take about a week.

County Executive Isiah Leggett and Department of Transportation Director Art Holmes will hold a press event across the street from the Cheltenham Parking Garage on Monday afternoon to make the announcement.

The $277,200 project comes after the county tested out the smart meters in March 2012 on Norfolk Avenue.

The meters, from San Diego-based IPS Group, allow drivers to use their credit and debit cards at the machines and see parking rates, hours and time limits on an illuminated display.

The meters use a solar-powered battery and will display how much time remains when a driver pays by cell phone. Drivers now must rely on their cell phones to know how much time remains if they pay through the county-chosen pay by cell phone application.

The smart meters also set up the possibility of demand pricing to push drivers toward less frequently used meters.

Many cities are using fluctuating parking prices to reduce circling and double parking in busier areas. In San Francisco, which many point to as a pioneer of demand pricing, meter pricing can range from between 25 cents an hour to a maximum of $6 an hour, all depending on the amount of cars parked in a particular stretch. The city uses sensors to gauge how many parking meters are being used and will raise the rates on busy streets to try to ensure at least one space is open.

A demand pricing structure for parking meters is of some interest to officials in Montgomery County, who see some downtown Bethesda garages remain mostly empty while others (think Garage 57 in Bethesda Row) are consistently crowded.

Bethesda Library Patrons Not Happy With Farm Market Parking

by Aaron Kraut | January 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm | 317 views | 1 Comment

Bethesda Library

When Central Farm Markets was forced to stop its customers from parking at its Bethesda Elementary School market, it encouraged people to park at nearby county garages instead of the Bethesda Library.

Apparently, not enough of the market’s customers have heeded that advice. A tweet from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman over the weekend indicated library patrons are having a hard time finding spots on Sundays, when the popular farmer’s market sets up in the elementary school parking lot next door.

In an email to subscribers in October, the market said it worked out an agreement with the library, which had previous complaints from staff members who could not find parking. The library (7400 Arlington Rd.) opens at noon on Sundays.

Representatives for Central Farm Market could not be reached this week, but over the weekend said they would make the announcement again.

The parking problems stem from issues in the Bethesda Elementary lot, where a group that rents out classrooms on Sunday complained to Montgomery County about the lack of spaces.

Those going to the market are not allowed to park in section A of the elementary school lot (displayed here). Sections B and C are typically filled with vendors, booths and tents, leaving customers flocking to the library lot.

In October, the market said the Montgomery County Office of Community Use of Public Facilities is also now requiring it to pay $6,000 until the end of the school year in June for a security guard to monitor the main school lot and enforce the new regulations. The market has a winter season starting in January.

The market got numerous complaints from Congregation Beth El, which rents the inside of Bethesda Elementary for religious school.

This map and app shows available parking garages and lots, with prices.

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | November 20, 2013 at 8:35 am | 196 views | No Comments

Photo by Abigail Reid

White Flint Elementary School Meeting Tonight — The Board of Education wants the site of a future White Flint Elementary School moved. The Planning Department wants it to remain as designed in the sector plan. There’s also a disagreement between the landowner and the Planning Board about how that land would be donated. Tonight, county planners will participate in the general meeting of the Garrett Park Estates/White Flint Park Citizen’s Association to try to sort it all out. The school is a vital part of dealing with extra students projected to live in the new White Flint. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at Garrett Park Elementary School (4810 Oxford St.). [Friends of White Flint]

More Illegal Towing Near Chevy Chase Whole Foods — It might be a good idea to avoid parking in the Bank of Georgetown lot next to the Chevy Chase Whole Foods, even if you’re going into the store for just a few minutes. An 80-year-old Bethesda woman got her car towed from the lot after the bank was closed one night. The total cost, including the cost to get the car towed back to Bethesda, was $298. WUSA9 helped the woman get off on a technicality — law requires tow companies to replace previous warning signs with bigger signs. The company, Rockville-based Diversified Recovery, hadn’t done that. In May, a Chevy Chase man got his towing charge refunded from the same company towing in the same lot. The company hadn’t signed a towing contract with the Bank of Georgetown. [WUSA9]

No Parking On Tuckerman Lane — Until Friday, the metered-parking spots along Tuckerman Lane near the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station will be closed. MCPS will be using the spots to park buses used in its series of field trips to Strathmore for free student concerts. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]

Photo by Abigail Reid

New Data Includes Real-Time Bethesda Garage Parking Info

by Aaron Kraut | October 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 188 views | No Comments

The Elm Street garage, full on a recent weekend

There are 926 spots in the Elm Street Garage, the Bethesda Row facility that frequently becomes a traffic jam on weekends and some week nights.

Thanks to a group of new data sets added to the Montgomery County’s Data Montgomery site, you should never again be surprised to find no spots.

The county on Tuesday announced a number of new features, including a real-time indicator of how many spaces are available in Garage 57, the county garage that has become more crowded after Lot 31 was closed last year.

As of 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, there were 191 spaces available, which could mean an elevator ride or a long walk down the stairs.

Other data released Tuesday include databases of all spending disclosures by county employees, employee tuition assistance and all county parking garages. Recent data sets include all permitting data going back to 2000, county contracts and cable complaints.

The most popular database remains the listing of county employee salaries.

Each data set is sortable in multiple ways. The hope is still that individuals or businesses will help the county develop smart phone applications that can connect residents with valuable info with the touch of a finger.

New Police Station Could Mean Loss Of Parking In Woodmont Garage

by Aaron Kraut | October 21, 2013 at 11:45 am | 223 views | 1 Comment

Potential location of the new 2nd District Police Station on Rugby AvenueMontgomery County’s land swap deal for a new 2nd District Police Station could mean the loss of parking spots in a nearby parking garage.

On Monday afternoon, a County Council Committee will discuss the county’s selection of Bethesda-based developer StonebridgeCarras to build a new police station at 4823 Rugby Ave. in exchange for the county’s land at the existing station at 7359 Wisconsin Ave.

The county’s proposal for the new station requires a 34,000-square-foot building with 75 staff parking spaces.

In order to meet that requirement at 4823 Rugby, a small gravel parking lot, the developer will likely need to use spaces in Garage 35.

The popular garage serves office buildings, apartment dwellers and some retail on the northern edge of downtown Bethesda. The plan, according to an Oct. 3 memo from Department of General Services Deputy Director Greg Ossont, is to move some of the long-term parking in Garage 35 to Garage 36 (4910 Auburn Ave.) which is often full of empty spaces.

The current station, built in 1961, requires most staff to park across the street in the county’s Waverly Garage (7400 Waverly St.). Because the garage is open to the public, council staff noted police vehicles “have occassionaly been damaged by vandals.”

The new station at the Rugby site would include “controlled ingress and egress into the parking structure from Rugby Avenue in such a manner to fully secure a portion of garage for MCPD use only,” Ossont wrote in the memo.

Montgomery County Police, the Department of General Services and Department of Transportation would enter into a long-term lease for the parking spaces.

County Cracks Down On Bethesda Farmers Market Parking

by Aaron Kraut | October 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm | 453 views | No Comments

Bethesda Elementary School, via MCPSBethesda’s Central Farm Markets has enjoyed a lot of success since its started five years ago, apparently too much for the parking lot at Bethesda Elementary School to handle.

The Bethesda market, open on Sundays in the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot (7600 Arlington Rd.), has run into parking issues with Montgomery County and a group that rents out the school.

According to a Central Farm Markets email blast sent out Thursday, from now on there will be virtually no permitted parking at the elementary school for market-goers.

Those going to the market will not be allowed to park in section A of the lot (displayed here). Sections B and C are typically filled with vendors, booths and tents.

The market said the Montgomery County Office of Community Use of Public Facilities is also now requiring it to pay $6,000 until the end of the school year in June for a security guard to monitor the main school lot and enforce the new regulations. The market has a winter season starting in January.

According to the email, the market got numerous complaints from Congregation Beth El, which rents the inside of Bethesda Elementary for religious school.

“They felt that there were not enough parking spaces for staff and parents. Over the past two years BCFM has tried to work together with the Sunday school to find a compromise, but the situation did not improve and parking in the school lot was tight for all,” read the email.

Market-goers can park in the metered Bethesda Library lot nearby, but only until 11:30 a.m. The Market said it worked out an agreement with the library, which had complaints from staff members who could not find parking. The library opens at noon on Sundays.

The market is encouraging people to park at the free-on-Sunday county parking garages on Old Georgetown Road and St Elmo Avenue.

Central Farm Markets is also hoping to find a way to accommodate its market concierge service, which lets shoppers leave their groceries while getting their car for a direct pick-up. For now, market-goers will have to carry their purchases.

Bethesda Is On The Parking Map

by Aaron Kraut | October 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm | 210 views | No Comments

Where to park and how much it will cost today around downtown Bethesda, via ParkMe

A popular parking app that identifies parking prices and which lots are “the least painful” has made its way to Bethesda.

ParkMe, the California-based app, now has pricing information on most public and private lots and garages in the downtown area.

Try, for example, looking for parking around the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club for an 8 p.m. show. Parking will cost you $1.60 for two hours at the Cheltenham Garage and $2.50 at the Middleton Lane Lot.

Street parking info is not yet on the app, which claims to cover more than 28,000 locations worldwide.

The software allows users to sort by price, the “least pain,” by daily rates, monthly rates and time.

Some lots will give info on the availability of parking spots. The county lots don’t allow that capability yet, but it’s a good resource for figuring out how much you are going to pay for parking before you head out.

Photo via ParkMe

Guide To Taste Of Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | October 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm | 3,987 views | 1 Comment

2012 Taste of Bethesda

With exceptionally good weather (86 degrees and mostly sunny) forecast for Saturday, you can expect a large crowd at this year’s Taste of Bethesda in Woodmont Triangle.

Here’s a handy guide on how to get there, where to park and a recap of what restaurants will participate and what’s on the menu:

Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Woodmont Triangle with vendors and booths along Norfolk, Fairmont, St. Elmo, Cordell and Del Ray Avenues.

Street Closures: Avoid Woodmont Triangle, because almost the entire street grid will be closed off. Large sections of Norfolk, Fairmont, St Elmo, Cordell and Del Ray Avenues will be shut down and the annual “Come Back To Bethesda” fundraiser will mean closures on Cheltenham Drive, across Wisconsin Avenue.

Ugh…Parking?: The Bethesda Urban Partnership, which runs the event, recommends parking in the Woodmont-Rugby Garage (Garage 35, 8216 Woodmont Ave.) or the Auburn-Del Ray Garage (Garage 36, 4907 Del Ray Ave.). All public garages and lots will be free on Saturday.

There are plenty of spots in those facilities, but here’s another tip: Park farther away and walk.

In good-weather years, the Taste of Bethesda typically brings in upwards of 40,000 people. So it might be a good idea to avoid those two parking garages. Here’s the map of parking garages and lots in downtown Bethesda. All are within easy walking distance and most are near Bethesda Circulator stops. The free shuttle will take you right to the Taste.

**Extra special bonus tip**: Don’t park in the surface parking lot at the Connor Building (7720 Woodmont Ave.) It’s one of the most notorious spots in Bethesda for trespass tows and there’s a free county parking garage right across the street.

How Do I Get There From Metro?: Take the Circulator, which has a stop in the Bethesda Metro station bus bay and will drop you off at any number of spots in Woodmont Triangle. Or, once at street level, walk down the hill on Old Georgetown Road (away from Wisconsin Avenue) and two blocks to Woodmont Avenue. Hang a right on Woodmont Avenue and walk a block to the event entrance at the intersection of Woodmont and Norfolk Avenues. You’ll see a Starbucks one one corner and the Tastee Diner across the street.

How Much Does It Cost?: Admission is free. The food is not. Food tickets (sold at a number of BUP booths) will get you various servings of food from restaurants and vendors. The tickets come in bundles of four for $5. Food servings cost one to four tickets, with drinks usually running you one ticket and plates of two or three foods costing four tickets. Ticket sales end at 3:30 p.m.

What Restaurants Will Be There? Most of the ones in Bethesda actually. This year’s lineup features locally-owned ethnic eateries, fast casual favorites and even specialty chains (think Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s Pizza).

Here’s the updated list of restaurants and food from BUP.

More Questions? Check out the event website. Or leave a comment.

Neighborhood Parking Hard Problem To Solve Around Military Medical Center

by Aaron Kraut | September 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm | 286 views | No Comments

Street parking in the Parkhill neighborhood near the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Freda Mitchem says residents in her neighborhood have noticed an increase of Military Medical Center employees and students parking in her neighborhood over the last year.

On the other side of the Naval Support Activity Bethesda base, the Parkview Neighborhood is getting ready for a public hearing on establishing residential parking permits to keep base employees out.

Since Walter Reed moved to the Military Medical Center in 2011, residents in a few neighborhoods outside the base fence have reported employees parking on their streets.

The command on the base has tried to help, according to NSAB Public Affairs Officer Joe Macri, but the reality is there isn’t much that can be done to stop people from parking on public streets.

“It’s a really complex problem,” Macri told Mitchem at a Montgomery County BRAC Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday. “We’ve sent out mass emails and done an education effort. When it comes down to it, unfortunately you’re probably going to have to do the restrictive parking.”

Obtaining the restrictive parking — the residential parking permits — is no easy feat.

The county law establishing the residential permit program, in effect since 1974, was meant to provide parking relief for residents whose neighborhoods are close to public facilities, especially Metro stations.

Residents or a civic association must submit a written request to the Department of Transportation that includes a petition with signatures from at least two-thirds of the houses on each block that wants the permit parking. MCDOT then evaluates the request, establishes the border of the area and sets up a public hearing after getting a $250 public hearing fee from the civic association.

The county executive then issues a written decision in a process that can last a year.

Getting two-thirds of the homeowners on each block to agree to the process can be difficult, especially with owners who rent out their properties.

Mitchem, the president of the Chevy Chase Valley Citizens Association, said she’s gotten more and more complaints from residents on Parsons Road, Montrose Road and Spring Valley Road. Chevy Chase Valley is a small neighborhood just west of Connecticut Avenue and within walking distance of the Uniformed Services University entrance on the base.

“It’s not that it’s occasional commuters,” Mithcem said. “We have lots of photos of the cars and they have stickers from USUHS and NIH and so forth. Clearly, neighborhoods are not intended to be the parking lots for public institutions. That’s just not what they’re supposed to be.”

Mitchem said the parking is of particular concern when utility projects are going on in the neighborhood.

The off-base parking in neighborhoods has long been a known problem.

Macri said NSAB can keep contractors from parking in neighborhoods through their contracts. But keeping base employees parking on-base is more difficult. NSAB does not keep records of employee license plates. NSAB command does not have authority over all of the employees on the base, who come from a variety of military units and agencies.

Macri said NSAB will throw its support behind any neighborhood group that goes to Montgomery County for the residential permits.

The Walter Reed merger and campus expansion projects have led to a huge increase in estimated number of visitors to the base — from 500,000 per year to 1,000,000 per year.

A new set of construction and expansion projects was recently approved and will add about 270 full-time employees to the base. At the meeting on Tuesday, NSAB Commander Capt. David Bitonti confirmed interim medical buildings will be built on an existing parking lot while a group of old medical buildings are demolished, renovated and rebuilt.

Bitonti said the people who park in the affected lot will have parking available on-base with the completion of a new 500-space garage elsewhere on the installation.

Neighborhood May Get Parking Permits To Keep Walter Reed Employees Out

by Aaron Kraut | September 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm | 394 views | No Comments

Parkview Residential Parking PermitsA Bethesda neighborhood bordering the Walter Reed Military Medical Center might get residential parking permits from Montgomery County, a move that would curtail base employees from parking there.

The county’s Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on Sept. 25 in Rockville about the possibility, part of the lengthy process for deeming a neighborhood a residential parking permit-only area.

Some members of the Parkview Neighborhood Association, which covers the area along Cedar Lane and Parkhill Drive just north of the base, have long wanted residential parking permits because of what they say is overflow parking from hospital and military employees.

But getting Montgomery County to establish a residential parking permit program isn’t easy.

The law, in effect since 1974, was meant to provide parking relief for residents whose neighborhoods are close to public facilities, especially Metro stations.

Residents or a civic association must submit a written request to the Department of Transportation that includes a petition with signatures from at least two-thirds of the houses on each block that wants the permit parking. MCDOT then evaluates the request, establishes the border of the area and sets up a public hearing after getting a $250 public hearing fee from the civic association.

The county executive then issues a written decision in a proces that can last a year.

Last year, the Parkview Neighborhood Association asked the county for a solution.

“Sadly, the growth of the Naval Hospital and incorporation of Walter Reed patients, medical staff and visitors has led to a parking nightmare in our neighborhood,” Marc Minsker wrote to county officials. “Every morning dozens and dozens of people park their cars on our streets and walk the 0.5 miles to Walter Reed or [the National Institutes of Health].”

The permits cost $35 per car every two years and Minsker told the Washington Examiner that some in the neighborhood aren’t interested in the program because they rent their properties.

In January, base officials said interim medical buildings may be built on a base parking lot during the planned redevelopment of older buildings in the Walter Reed campus’ core.

County Investigator Talks Trespass Towing

by Aaron Kraut | July 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | 133 views | 1 Comment

If you’ve ever made a complaint to Montgomery County about your car getting towed, there’s a good chance Doug Numbers took the call.

Numbers is an investigator for the county’s Office of Consumer Protection who handles complaints about trespass towing, when tow truck drivers tow cars from private lots in front of businesses, shopping malls or other properties.

The Connor Building, a favorite spot for tow truck drivers looking for drivers who walk-off from their cars in the private lotOften, those cases are examples of predatory towing, when a tow truck operator tows the car of a driver who briefly walks into a nearby store.

In the video above, Numbers lets a caller know this is not one of those cases.

The driver parked at the Connor Building (7720 Wisconsin Ave.), a favorite spot of tow truck drivers. With multiple signs announcing the building’s no walk-off policy, the driver who left her car in the lot before going to a restaurant nearby had little chance of getting her $168 back.

Video via Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection

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