Hudson's Corner

January 07, 2012

At the January meeting of the Roland Park Civic League, residential parking permits were on the agenda. West University Parkway homeowners near The Carlyle are having trouble finding spaces to park. Residents on the southbound side of University Parkway, near Keswick Road, are too.

While The Carlyle has a parking garage, it is not free. Some renters choose on-street parking instead. On a street where parking is tight, the lane (as alleys are called in Roland Park) is narrow and garages are few, parking becomes problematic. Many apartment buildings, large and small, stand near the corner of University Parkway and 39th Street. Most have garages, but not all renters want that expense on top of the monthly bill. Homeowners like to be able to park in front of their houses.

Now that Johns Hopkins University is using the former Aegon building at Keswick Road and West 40th Street, parking on nearby residential streets has become tight. That includes West University Parkway on the northbound and the southbound side.

On the southbound side near Keswick, no homeowner but one has a driveway. The nearby lane ends before it reaches some of the houses. Many owners can park only in front of their homes.

The street is a boulevard, with a wide green park in the middle, and nearby roads on which to park do not exist. If residents come home and find no spot to unload groceries, they must park in the bike lane, quickly unload and then find parking blocks away. With small children in tow, that can be tedious. There's nothing like having to use a stroller for shuttling children between car and home.

The houses on University Parkway were built before the land at the Rotunda was developed and before high-rise apartments went up on University Parkway at 39th Street. Now, with two and three-car families and greater density everywhere, parking is an issue for homeowners already paying high property taxes.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke was present at the Civic League meeting. Not only does she represent the University Parkway homeowners, she also is the councilperson who, almost 30 years ago, drafted the bill to create residential parking permits. The first area to use them was Oakenshawe, also located off University Parkway.

Until Deepdene Road and surrounding streets overflowed with construction workers, students and business-related cars, Roland Parkers had never felt the need for parking permits. For 10 years, Roland Park has now had permitted parking during the daytime, except on weekends, in the area of Deepdene and Club roads. Keswick Road, near 40th Street and the Rotunda, has them too.

The quickest way for University Parkway residents to obtain parking permits is to apply block by block as add-ons to the other permitted areas in Roland Park. If 60 percent of homeowners in each block wants permits, residents will be able to obtain one permit per vehicle, plus guest permits. Each permit costs $20 per year.

The thought of paying one more cent for anything after paying the highest property taxes in the state is not what people who have decided to buy homes in the city want. Many young families are already stretching their finances to move to this area with its topnotch public school, Roland Park Elementary/Middle.

Still, with no alternative parking, parking permits become a logical solution.

Perhaps University Parkway homeowners and the Civic League might also talk to apartment managers and Johns Hopkins University administrators to explore what can be done to make existing parking areas, and satellite parking areas, more attractive to employees and renters.

A long-term solution, of course, is to decrease the number of cars in the neighborhood. Until better public transportation exists in Baltimore City, parking permits ease congested residential areas.

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