Timothy A. Hodge Jr., a partner at the downtown law firm of Tydings & Rosenberg, says his firm's clients and employees are often frustrated by their search for parking. "It happens quite often, and not just with my law firm, but with everybody downtown," Hodge said. "There's clearly a shortage of space, but the city ... has done nothing to move on this problem and finally they're behind the eight ball."
While Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke supported many recommendations in the Downtown Partnership report three years ago, he did not favor a separate parking agency.
Councilman Melvin L. Stukes, a South Baltimore Democrat, echoed citizens' concerns that the administration's zeal to solve the immediate parking problem gives short shrift to the need to improve the region's public transit.
"We should be moving toward asking people to leave their cars home," said Stukes, who plans to support the bill. "The parking issue to me is second to the transportation issue, by far."
Ralph E. Moore, co-chairman of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, told council members that a lack of parking and public transit are "the Achilles' heel of development."
Association members have reservations about the administration's desire to build more parking garages. It is as if some law of nature were at work: Build a space and a car will find it, they say.
"I don't think you can look at any other major city in the country that has improved their situation by just adding parking," said Jamie Michael Kendrick of CPHA. "The more parking garages you have, the more cars you have on the street. The more cars you have on the street, the more congestion you have."
CPHA promotes a mix that includes better use of satellite parking, bicycling and mass transit. The group has offered amendments to the bill and tried to ensure that one of the authority's board members is well-versed in mass transit.
"It can't just be about constructing parking garages. That is not going to solve it," said Kendrick. "We need mobility solutions for all, not just parking garages for suburban people."