Residential parking permits required on 48th Avenue after overcrowding complaints

A College Park neighborhood. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Residential parking permits will now be required to park on the 8400 and 8500 blocks of 48th Avenue, after the College Park City Council unanimously passed a motion following a public hearing during a council meeting Tuesday night. 

Before, anyone could park freely along the street. Now, residents with permits will be able to park on 48th Avenue between Pontiac Street and Berwyn Road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 

For those who don’t live on the block, these non-permit holders will otherwise have a two-hour time limit. 

In an email from earlier this month, College Park’s parking enforcement manager Jim Miller said each household may be given up to five permits, depending on how much off-street parking each household may have. He added that residents can request up to two visitor permits that will be free of charge. 

The public hearing was held due to petitions residents signed in 2017 and 2019 stating the street was becoming one-lane from the amount of cars parking on both sides. 

Lily Fountain has lived on 48th Avenue for 43 years. She signed both petitions and said she still thinks the parking permits are necessary today. She had multiple concerns, particularly with the dangers of the street. With parked cars lining the road and no sidewalks, walkability is limited and dangerous for children and people with dogs. Pulling out of her driveway has been risky as well, she said. 

“I’ve had several near misses coming out of my driveway for T-bone accidents,” Fountain said. 

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Chad Stern, another resident on 48th Avenue, also supported the permits. He was opposed to them up until a few years ago, he said. But over the past decade, he noticed that with the University of Maryland reducing parking on the campus, there have been more students parking on the street, along with construction workers working on nearby construction projects. 

But some residents who had signed the petitions years ago were now opposed to the permits, such as Brian McAllister. 

In an email he sent to the city, McAllister argued the permits wouldn’t help, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic emptying the streets. Not only that, but they would just prove to be an inconvenience for everyone. 

“They’re inconvenient to other Maryland taxpayers [that] can’t park on the street, to students. It’s hard enough to go to school, it’s hard enough to pay for tuition and pay for parking as well,” McAllister said during the public hearing. 

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Another resident, Larry Wenzel, also argued that, given the situation of the pandemic, the permits would be inconvenient. McAllister had taken photos of 48th Avenue in the middle of the week during the day. Wenzel said the photos were representative of what the street looks like on a daily basis. 

“You can walk up and down there, there’s no problem at all,” Wenzel said. “It’s like in the middle of summer when students aren’t here, and it’s been like that for six months.”

But District 2 Council member Monroe Dennis supported the permits, wary of the potential of more construction workers taking up spaces given the amount of projects in the surrounding area. Even if COVID-19 leaves the street more empty, the parking spots could be filled by workers when new construction starts up. 

District 3 Council member John Rigg also voiced his support for the permits, saying the well-executed permits would be a blueprint for the city. 

“I do think that as our city becomes more urban and more popular with people from all around the area … we’re going to need to consider this for a lot of different parts of our city,” Rigg said.

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