Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett proposes raising parking rates in Bethesda

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Original: Greg Whitesell/Examiner

Montgomery County recently completed the installation of 12,000 new meters that allow drivers to use a cashless key system to pay for parking.  This next generation parking meter is seen on Thursday, August 17, 2006 in Downtown Silver Spring.
Published: No Published Caption Original: Greg Whitesell/Examiner Montgomery County recently completed the installation of 12,000 new meters that allow drivers to use a cashless key system to pay for parking. This next generation parking meter is seen on Thursday, August 17, 2006 in Downtown Silver Spring.
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County,Metro and Traffic

Drivers parking in Bethesda and in the Silver Spring neighborhood of Montgomery Hills would have to pay more under Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's proposed fiscal 2014 budget.

Bethesda rates would increase to about $2 per hour on the street and a flat rate of $1.25 an hour for parking lots and 80 cents for garages. Old rates ranged from 80 cents to $1.25 based on how long someone parked.

Rates in Montgomery Hills would double, with hourly parking climbing from 25 cents to 50 cents and Parking Convenience Sticker Permit rates increasing from $45 to $90 per month.

Though rates would be higher for on-street parking in Bethesda, people parking in garages would save money, since all hours would be at an 80-cent flat rate, instead of varying. Rick Siebert, chief of the Division of Parking Management, said he hopes that would encourage more people to use garages and lots instead of on-street parking, which can congest downtown areas.

Rates in Montgomery Hills, though, are being increased mostly because the small parking district just inside the Beltway on Georgia Avenue hasn't seen the same volume of cars as others and has a declining revenue. Those rates would increase to 50 cents an hour.

"It's fairly modest," Siebert said of the 25-cent increase. "Because it is its own separate little district ... it has to be separately financially sufficient."

Andy Shulman, chairman-elect of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is more concerned with a county tax on property owners that don't provide a certain amount of parking. Since 2007, the tax has been declining. Shulman says that's why the rates for parking have increased.

If the county increased the tax about 4 cents -- which currently is only about 10 cents -- visitors to Bethesda wouldn't have to pay higher rates.

"It's not fair that this money should come out of [residents'] pockets," Shulman said.

The proposal is scheduled to go in front of the County Council for a public hearing later this month and, if adopted, would go into effect July 1.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County reporter
The Washington Examiner