Bumper-to-bumper cars on residential streets near Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are making some residents want to enforce their own "no parking" rules.
Hundreds of commuters are parking their cars in neighborhood streets and walking to Walter Reed because the Bethesda campus doesn't have enough parking, residents say. Walter Reed has about one parking space for every three workers, in accordance with National Capital Planning Commission guidelines.
Now some neighbors want to solve the parking problem on their own. The Parkview Neighborhood Association asked Montgomery County if it could install "Neighborhood Parking Only" signs along the street and enforce the rule themselves, leaving warning fliers on cars but not giving actual tickets.
"Sadly, the growth of the Naval Hospital and incorporation of Walter Reed patients, medical staff and visitors has led to a parking nightmare in our neighborhood," Marc Minsker wrote to county officials on behalf of the association. "Every morning dozens and dozens of people park their cars on our streets and walk the 0.5 miles to Walter Reed or [the National Institutes of Health]," he wrote.
County officials told Minsker he couldn't carry out his unique solution to the problem. But he's not alone in facing it.
"We see them parking for our neighborhood for the whole day, blocking spaces we use for repair people and visitors and so on," said Kevin Kraus, president of the East Bethesda Citizens Association.
The Navy has repeatedly told employees not to park in residential areas, said Phil Alperson, who oversees the traffic problems associated with Walter Reed for Montgomery County. Communities dealing with the parking problem can apply for permit parking zones, he said.
"When you put that many people on that campus, there's no solution. That's part of the quandary we're all in. I think the best solution is to have residential permits," he said.
But those require an entire block of residents to agree to put the signs up and buy permits costing $35 per car every two years. Not all of Minsker's neighbors -- two of whom rent their houses out, he said -- will agree to ask the county for permit parking.
"At this point I think we just have to grin and bear it," Minsker said.