April 22, 2010

OPINION: Suck it up: Pay for Saturday

At the risk of bringing enormous vitriol, I have to weigh in on the proposals to charge for parking on Saturday in Downtown Silver Spring. And the rub is this: You people have had your parking SUBSIDIZED ever since the development of Downtown Silver Spring. Times are tough. There’s a huge budget shortfall every time the County Council fires up budget discussions. This is a small, per person price to pay for using county-provided shelter and parking. My take? SHUT THE [HECK] UP AND PAY THE NOMINAL PARKING FEE.

There. I said it. It provides revenue for the county, and the detriment to local businesses isn’t half of what the Chamber of Commerce and others make it out to be. Plus it’s CHEAP. $0.75 per hour? Even at a dollar an hour, that’s a steal. The East Silver Spring Civic Association people (who you know are my near and dear friends) have sent out links to online petitions that I won’t have the decency to post here decrying the parking fee as unfair, business averse, blah blah blah. And then there was this:

A big part of the Market’s success is the fact that parking in the lots and garages next to it is free on Saturdays so losing that would be a serious blow to the Market’s chances of success. In a word: [CRAP]. I love the Fenton Street Market. I walk to it almost every weekend it’s in session, and this is a red herring if I ever saw one. Any of these people will pay a dollar to park if they have to. And let us not forget: They’re using County-provided resources that took time and money to build. If they want to drive here and use the public garages on Saturday, let them pay some pocket change to the County to get our revenue back up. Or they can schlep several blocks from free parking elsewhere. Because, according to the “petition”:

For starters we believe that extending parking meters to Saturdays will unfairly benefit the new Downtown Silver Spring development since they will have the distinct advantage of being able to offer free parking on Saturdays. Like I said, they can park at the Wayne Avenue garage, drop by the Fresh Farm Market on Ellsworth and then walk down Fenton to the “other” market. I, for one, have seen a dramatic increase in foot traffic between the two since the inception of Fenton Street Market. And isn’t getting people out of their cars and walking by local businesses part of economic development?

To be fair, I don’t have to pay for parking. I live walking distance from all these things. I park my car in my driveway on Friday evening and rarely move it until Monday morning. And if I do want to park it on the street, I have an orange East Silver Spring parking permit sticker. So there. Unfair, you say? Not in the least. That little bit of bonus added a good 10-20% to the cost of my home, with the additional property tax percentage to boot. You want to come into my neighborhood and park in my garages? Reach into that pocket and pull out a couple of quarters. You’re gonna need them. And well you should. SOURCEThayer Avenue

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